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Match Report

 

Posted Tue 16 Mar 10 at 21:40 PM

FULL TIME: Luton 3-1 Harriers

Match report by Matt Wall - stats provided by the Press Association

Harriers tasted Blue Square Premier defeat at Luton Town on Tuesday night but after a reasonably assured performance they might well feel hard done by to be on the end of a 3-1 score line.

It was the Hatters who by far made the brighter start to this one - a corner forced inside ten seconds was among a very early handful of flag-kicks that Harriers had to survive. In the tenth minute the home side continued to press the play and Tom Craddock really should better after he shot wide following a mazy run.

Harriers gradually began to compose themselves and find some form of a passing game - their early chances were half ones, Brian Smikle poking wide and James Lawrie flicking a Marc Goodfellow delivery away from the target as they looked to test goalkeper Mark Tyler.

Craddock was in amongst things for the hosts and on 20 minutes he again had another decent chance as the ball was floated into the area - it was presented well enough to him but he could only get underneath it and such the ball was simple enough for Ross Atkins to gather.

Four minutes further on the breakthrough came and it was the home side celebrating - a free-kick around 20 yards into the Harriers half was dropped into the area and cleared by Harriers; unfortunately straight to Jake Howells who decided to try his luck from around 20 yards, the ball dinking off the upright and into the back of the net.

Harriers, six minutes later, found themselves two goals down without having put so much as a foot wrong. Despite being caught offside, the hosts won themselves a free-kick around 25 yards from goal that Kevin Gallen strode towards and struck, well enough, but the ball looked to have travelled through a gap in the wall on its way past Atkins who'd been wrong-footed.

The response to the first Luton goal had been good and being two down didn't seem to dent Harriers too much, either - just three minutes later, Robbie Matthews prowled towards goal with intent, the ball eventually coming to Lawrie who struck a tremendous left-footed effort from 18 yards that left Tyler plenty beaten.

Tails up, Harriers then pressed further and as the first half drew to a close they had two good chances to draw level. First, with seven to go, Lawrie acrobatically lofted just over despite the attentions of a clutch of Town players - and three minutes later Chris McPhee struck a great volley from the edge of the area that Tyler got down to superbly to tip over the bar.

The end-to-end pace of the game continued well into the second period though on 57 minutes a lapse in concentration cost Harriers dear as they conceded a third at such a vital time. Busy appealing for an offside flag that just wasn't coming, none of the three players surrounding Gallen at the far post got anywhere near a tackle, and the Hatters man was given the freedom of the park to fire across Atkins and into the far corner of the net.

Again credit where it's due, the response was good from Harriers and within two of the hour mark they'd had two good chances to make it 3-2; Matthews seeing a free-kick held and Jack Byrne firing straight down Tyler's throat when well placed on the break.

As the game entered its final quarter hour the pressure on Tyler's goal waned slightly but the confident Lawrie kept the veteran alert with a rising effort from outside the area that was comfortable enough.

Darryl Knights and Kyle Hadley saw action late on as boss Steve Burr looked to get some more change out of the Luton back-line, whilst with seven to go the hosts threw on former Harriers man Matthew Barnes-Homer for a run-out against his ex-employers.

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