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Luton Town 1 Harriers 0


Date: 21-04-12gif Venue: Kenilworth Rdgif att: 8415gif away fans: 751
Valiant Harriers outplayed by Top Hatters

gif Report by Centreforeword
On a typical April day with frequent showers, Kidderminster Harriers visited Kenilworth Road to take on Luton in the Blue Square Bet Premier League and both sides knew the importance of the game in deciding who would clinch the final play off place.  The Harriers boss, Steve Burr, started with the same side that had won against Kettering the preceding Saturday except for Marvin Johnson coming into the starting line up in place of Steve Guinan who was relegated to the bench.  Callum Gittings was the unlucky player to miss out completely.

The game kicked off with a great atmosphere - a record attendance for the season at Kenilworth Road and for the 2011/12 season a record ten coaches and 751 away fans for the Harriers also.

From the get go both sides attacked, however, in addition to the beefy showers it seemed the grounds-man must have watered the pitch heavily as players from both sides were finding it difficult to stay on their feet in the very slippery conditions.  That situation did though seem to improve as the game went on.

It was Luton who created the first real chance when Curtis Osano cut inside and dragged the ball across the face of goal from the edge of the area after about nine minutes.  Marvin Johnson did well to beat the same Luton man a few moments later before falling to the ground inside the penalty area with Janos Kovacs pressurising him.  Johnson though was promptly booked by referee Bond for diving and in all fairness that was probably the correct assessment of the situation.

Luton then again almost carved out an opening in the eigtheenth minute with a sharp move.  Stuart Fleetwood's clever back heel found the on-rushing Jake Howells.  Howells' pull-back then picked out Robbie Willmott but his attempt to find the near bottom corner was well blocked by the Harriers defence.

A couple of minutes later Fleetwood caught Kyle Storer with a late challenge and Fleetwood clearly followed it up by directing a scathing comment in the direction of the Harriers midfielder.  Storer then squared up to the Luton favourite and forcefully pushed the striker over at chest height.  Fortunately only a yellow card was raised by the man in black but it could easily have been red and that in itself could have severely thwarted Harriers promotion chances there and then.

Just a few seconds later Willmott shot just a few feet wide, while a flowing Harriers counter attack ended in Johnson creating half an opening but leaning back and firing well over the bar.

Generally speaking Luton were on top and that superiority became more apparent as the half progressed.  The home side went close from Willmott's corner in the thirtieth minute when Kovacs' header was, firstly cleared off the line by Lee Vaughan, and then the ball rebounded straight back to Kovacs but he could only skew a sharp chance over the bar.

Repeatedly crosses flashed across the Harriers' box in the closing stages of the first half.  Luckily for the Aggborough outfit there was no-one to be found at the end of the gifts into the danger area and Kidderminster managed to get into the dressing room at half time all square.
  HT: 0 - 0
Overall the second half was a much more even contest.  With Steve Burr's charges kicking towards the away fans the boys in red made more of an impact at various junctures, however, Curtis Osano found Andre Gray in the opening seconds of the new period but Gray was crowded out in the box before the ball sprang out to Howells and he shot just over.

The quick feet of Gray saw him beat his man a short while later but he could only poke the ball straight at Tony Breeden.  Willmott then found some space but, again, could only shoot straight at Breeden before a further Hatters attack ended in Stuart Fleetwood firing over the bar.

On the hour Johnson drove a good low effort at the Luton keeper after a Harriers corner was half-cleared and substitute Ryan Rowe, on for the injured Nick Wright, almost made an instant impact when he shimmied across the box and forced a sprawling save out of the Luton goalkeeper, Mark Tyler, in a similar fashion to the way in which he came on and scored against Grimsby a few weeks previously.

But it was Luton who managed to grab the all-important goal on sixty seven minutes.  The Luton keeper cleared the ball to the far left corner of the pitch but Lee Vaughan, thinking it was an easy collect for Breeden, stood frozen near the half way line.  However, the ball was actually way out near the corner flag and the untiring legs of Willmott chased it down.  He cut back from the goal line and buried a strong effort past Breeden from a tight angle before he could be properly closed down by the Harriers defence.

The game then understandably became a lot more open as Harriers searched for the equaliser and legs tired.  Chances abounded at both ends and the boys in red continued to look dangerous particularly at set-pieces.  One particular Johnson corner dropped dangerously in the box before Osano managed to hack it away.

A mis-kicked Breeden clearance went straight to Fleetwood on eighty minutes but with tired legs he took the easy option and his opportunistic strike was aimed harmlessly wide.  Then another chance fell to Alex Lawless on the edge of the area but he shot well over.

Substitutes for both sides were introduced as Steve Guinan and Dan Bradley came on for Dave Hankin and Kyle Storer.  Based on the experience of the previous recent run of games the 751 away supporters never gave up hope.

Obligingly, Kidderminster twice went close with just a minute left to grabbing an invaluable point and equally as importantly, restricting Luton's spoils.

A deep corner to the far side of the box was headed against the post by Luke Jones and Guinan almost made an immediate impact when his follow-up shot was cleared off the line and over the bar by Howells.  In the typical frenzied last few minutes an audacious overhead-kick by Guinan sailed just wide.

Luton themselves then almost made the game completely safe in the dying seconds when Gray flicked on for Craig McAllister but he was thwarted by the offside flag and in any event, un-be-knowingly, Breeden made a good save in the one on one situation.

Harriers battled hard in this game but unfortunately came up just short against a Luton side who have been clearly invigorated by the appointment of their new manager.  The Hatters tired towards the end as Buckle is working his team a lot harder than his predecessor did.

We will see whether that will take its toll when Luton have to visit Gateshead and Fleetwood away in the space of a few days for their final two games this coming week.  If Luton only pick up one point from those two tricky games and Harriers can win at home to Mansfield next Saturday all may not yet be lost and Harriers could yet clinch that final play-off spot.
It's a tall ask but stranger things have happened in football.  We will see.
  FT: 1 - 0

 Goal for Luton: Wilmott 67

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Luton Town  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Tyler     Breeden  
Howells     Vaughan  
Osano     Mike Williams  
Keane   Jones  
Kovacs     Marshall  
Pilkington     Storer gif
Lawless     Hankin gif  
Watkins gif     Vincent  
Fleetwood gif     Malbon  
Gray     N Wright gif  
Willmott gif     Johnson
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Gleeson     Lyness  
Taylor     Rowe gif  
Blackett gif     Guinan gif  
Poku gif     Bradley gif  
McAllister gif     Demetriou  

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