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Match Reports

Match Report : 24/08/2013

24 August 2013

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The Town had to settle for a point in an encouraging display at title favourites Forest Green.

Showing two changes to the side that drew 1-1 last weekend – with Jonathan Smith and Mark Cullen replacing Dave Martin and Solomon Taiwo – the Town started the brighter of the two sides.

On six minutes a short free-kick routine involving Smith and Shaun Whalley saw the latter cross dangerously from the right but Rovers were alert to the danger to clear.

The hosts came close almost immediately when former Hatter Matthew Barnes-Homer headed wide at the back-post following James Norwood’s right-wing cross.

That chance came against the run of the play, however, and as the Town continued to pass the ball well, Luke Guttridge, the last-gasp saviour last Saturday, was denied his third goal in Luton colours when his first-time left-foot shot from 12 yards was kept out superbly by the reflexes of Sam Russell in the Rovers goal.

On 10 minutes Cullen ended a slick Town move by having a shot deflected over the crossbar after taking a square pass from Andre Gray and, a minute later, Cullen shot way, way over the crossbar.

Cullen was proving to be a right pest to the hosts’ defence and the striker test Russell with a low shot that the Rovers goalkeeper could only palm away. The loose ball fell to Jon Shaw, sliding in, but despite having every right to challenge for the ball, the centre-forward was shown a yellow card.

The Hatters were playing some attractive good football going forward and were looking solid at the back but Rovers engineered a rare chance on 25 minutes when Norwood sent a header high and wide at the back-post from a left-wing cross.

Chances were few and far between after a good start, with John Still ordering Gray and Whalley to swap flanks in an attempt to break the deadlock before the break.

Whalley almost fashioned a chance in the first minute of injury time when he burst down the left flank, only to be barged off of the ball by Al Bangura on the edge of the penalty. Bangura had already been booked but referee Brett Huxtable only issued a warning and the Town failed to take advantage from the resultant free-kick – and that was the end of the first half action.

Tyler made his first save of the game 35 seconds after the resumption of the second half when easily dealing with Marcus Kelly’s low 25-yarder after the midfielder had been gifted the ball by Whalley.

The Town made their first chance 11 minutes into the second half when Jake Howells replaced Shaw and the substitute almost made an immediate impact on 63 minute when he slalomed into the penalty area and laid off a pass for Alex Lacey but the defender’s neat finish was ruled out for offside.

A minute later, Gray – now in a central position – helped the ball goalwards for Cullen to chase but the striker could only thump a firm left-foot shot into the Hatters fans in the terrace behind the goal.

Clear-cut chances were at a real premium and hopeful Town penalty appeals were waved away by the referee with 14 minutes to play after he went down under a challenge in the box having taken Howells’ pass.

Rovers almost gave the Hatters defence a nervous moment on 78 minutes when substitute Yan Klukowski’s dangerous right-wing cross was hacked clear by Ronnie Henry inside his own six-yard box with a host of home attackers sensing a tap-in.

However, despite both sides going for victory in the final quarter-of-an-hour neither goalkeeper was called into any serious action and it ended in stalemate.

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