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12 March 2013

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Town fall to home defeat

A Jamie Milligan penalty succumbed the Hatters to their first home defeat under John Still. Hyde went ahead midway through the first half through Blackpool loanee Louis Almond before Jake Howells' superb equaliser. 

Hyde were gifted the chance to take maximum points and put an end to a six game losing streak when Matthew Blinkhorn was sent tumbling by Greg Taylor. Milligan stepped up and duly dispatched to seal the Hatters fate.

John Still had named an exciting new strike force as the Hatters welcomed Hyde on Tuesday evening as new signing Alex Wall partnered Andre Gray up front for the hosts. JJ O'Donnell was brought into the heart of the midfield with Jonathan Smith with Alex Lawless and Howells occupying the Hatters width. Steve McNulty and Jake Goodman continued their defensive partnership at central defence.

It was the Hatters fresh front pairing that brought to a close a sub-dewed opening on a frosty night in Bedfordshire as Gray went close after ten minutes. Wall held the ball up well with a calm first touch on the chest to bring the ball down before hooking a leg at the ball to turn the ball into the path of Gray. Springing the offside trap Gray latched onto the end of it before dragging his shot into the side netting from the tightest of angles.

Wall continued to drift between the Hyde defence as he found space down the right flank. Being pursued by three Hyde players he swiftly snuck inside before whipping a teasing cross in towards Howells. The deep cross brushed off the top of Howells head with the winger unable to rise high enough to meet the delivery.

It was the pairing of Howells and Wall again who looked to break the deadlock as the quarter of an hour mark passed with Howells this time turning provider. A determined run into the Hyde half looked to have been put to a premature end when he lost his footing on the first cross but he was quickly up to retrieve the ball before skipping inside. Torn between shot and cross Howells flew the ball into the back post with Wall peeling away from his marker. Meeting the ball well in mid-air he powered his header down into the ground but David Carnell in the Hyde net muffled the effort and clung on to the loose ball.

All the pressure and chances were for the Hatters as they dominated the games entirety until Louis Almond clinically put the visitors in front. Scott Hogan retained possession deep inside the Hatters half before darting inside and slipping the ball into Blinkhorn. The Hyde forward reversed the pass with his first touch to Almond who looped the ball into the top corner to give Hyde an 18th minute lead.

The Hatters continued to dominate possession and thought they had found a breakthrough when Gray pounced on a defensive error. Howell's attempted cross was deflected behind the back-line and as they stood and watched Gray raced in behind. The forward then bounced Luke Ashworth off the ball and slams his shot over the bar from a narrow angle with Lawless bellowing for the squared pass.

Half an hour passed and Wall nearly prodded the Hatters back onto level terms. Howells swept a low cross in which was miscued by Gray at the front post and bobbled for Wall at the far. Instinctively the Town forward flicked the ball towards the far post and watched it trickle agonisingly past the post.

An early substitution for the Hatters as Lawless departed for Dan Walker on 33 minutes.

The equaliser did finally arrive for the Hatters and it was thoroughly deserved. Gray reversed a cute pass into the path of Howells who fed the keeper with his eyes as he set up for the cross before smashing the ball into the near top corner and leaving Carnell motionless.

Hyde immediately mounted a reaction as Almond retracted Tyler's goal kick and drove into the Town final third. Dropping the shoulder he cut inside and pinged a shot towards the near post which Tyler saw skip wide.

End to End football in the first half as Luton pressed again for a second. Substitute Walker shrugged off the challenge of Griffin before floating a ball into the area which Howells challenged for. His header, under intense pressure, flew over the crossbar.

Wall and Gray continued to impress at the point for the Hatters as their link up play again saw them terrorise the back line. Gray again the provider as his round the corner flick sent Wall scampering off after it. Driving to the byline he looked to return the favour by sliding Gray in for a tap in but Carnell bounded down to snatch the ball off of the toes of Gray in the goalmouth.

The second half, much like the first, started with very little in the form of chances. The first real sighting of the half came from a Hatters attacking free-kick. Howells searched deep for Wall but Carnell plucked the ball out of the air and drilled a long kick towards Almond. The Hyde goalscorer brought the ball down with sumptuous ease with the outside of his foot beautifully swivelling to face the Town goal. He then surged on toward McNulty before letting fly from distance. Tyler flew to his right but withdrew a stretched arm at the final second to allow the ball to drop wide of the post without the aid of the Town keeper.

An hour gone and Dave Martin, the Hatters goalscoring hero from Saturday during a 1-1 draw with Hereford, replaced Gray allowing Walker and Wall to link up in attack for a structured 4-4-2.

Almond continued to threaten for the visitors and came close twice in quick succession. Released down the left hand side by Tomsett his first touch was heavy before he was able to pull the trigger with only Tyler to beat. Seconds later Hogan was the provider as Almond drifted inside. He picked the ball up, squared up the angle with McNulty before shifting the weight onto his right hand side and looked to curl the ball over Tyler into the top corner. His effort lacked conviction however and narrowly missed the target.

On 68 minutes the tables were turned as Blinkhorn was sent sprawling by Taylor. The linesman flagged and assured by his colleagues call the referee pointed to the spot. Milligan stepped up, took a long, deep breathe and calmly slotted the ball into the corner, sending Tyler the wrong way.

The Hatters looked for a way back into it and with just over 20 minutes left on the clock made a straight swap at full back with Taylor replaced by Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.

Chances had dried up for the Hatters as time ticked ever closer but Wall continued to press in search of his first Hatters strike. It was the front-man who won the free-kick on the left hand side which Martin then stood over. His deep delivery nearly found Wall who leapt in desperately trying to connect but unfortunately could not make enough contact to direct the ball on target.

O'Donnell looked to resurrect the tie with a long range pile-driver on 80 minutes. The effort looked goal-bound but for a deflection which flushed the ball out for a corner. Martin trotted over to take the corner and thrusted the ball in low towards the near post. Wall skipped over it for McNulty who lashed the ball over the crossbar under pressure.

Howells then sprung the Hatters back into life. His dangerous run forced the Hyde fullback to commit the foul. He then received the set-piece short from skipper Henry and floated a cross into Wall. His first touch brought the ball down and after a neat shimmy over the ball prodded the ball towards the corner but for a deflection which forced the effort wide and secured all three points for the visitors.

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