The first big home game of the season saw Luton Town visit Aggborough Stadium in a game which saw the enforced, yet long awaited, return of Michael Briscoe in a Harriers shirt. Luke Jones had been forced to leave the field in the first half due to injury along with Mike Williams, later on, with a potential niggling injury that left him exposed for the first goal as Robbie Willmott netted the opener.
Despite Steve Guinan being available for selection after his three match ban, for violent conduct at Fleetwood, Jamille Matt kept his place in the side following his goal against Kettering last week. Nick Wright and Luke Medley completed the usual three pronged attack of Harriers against 'The Hatters'. The former Harrier Matt Barnes-Homer didn't appear as he has joined Rochdale on loan, but Lutons side still had a threat in the form of their right flank with Curtis Osano and Aaron O'Connor who time and time again exposed the weakness at the Harriers left side.
The game started off with decent tempo and pace. Fairly big tackles were flying in without the referee ever really taking any action and it was Callum Gittings who had the first shot for the Harriers from outside the area but he dragged it well wide of the post. In reply Jamie Hand had a shot which in a similar fashion went wide of the post.
Following this there was a possible free kick or penalty appeal as James Vincent was pushed over on the edge of the penalty area but the linesman waved his flag and, the referee, after ignoring it for the first few seconds after the event later looked back and waved away his linesman. What on earth is the point in having linesmen if their judgment isn't to be trusted and just waved away. Particularly topical after the events of last night in Northern Ireland as the linesman gave onside, Estonia scored and the referee gave the goal.
Harriers main chance in the half came surprisingly in the form of Tom Sharpe. The centre back had surged forward and brought the ball into the area but Janos Kovacs made a saving tackle just before Sharpe could take his shot and, although the player may have taken some of Sharpe as well as the ball, play continued despite the protests of the Harriers fans. If it wasn't a foul you have to wonder why he isn't still at Hereford stopping their seemingly inevitable fall back to where they belong in the Conference.
Dean Lyness, who was making his home competitive debut because of Danny Lewis being out injured with ACL damage, was having an assured game in the Harriers goal in the first half. Although he had little to do he made a series of comfortable saves and was decent in coming out to claim crosses.
Luke Jones then went off to be replaced through injury by Michael Briscoe, although with me sitting on a train back to Aberystwyth typing this and having seen no indications at the game as to his injury, I cannot speculate what the injury could be [Ed: calf muscle].
However his clean sheet was to be ruined by the work of Amari Morgan-Smith and Robbie Willmott. Mike Williams had the ball on the halfway line but his poor touch let him down and allowed Morgan-Smith to steal the ball from him and the pacy Luton forward accelerated with real pace away from him. Williams tried desperately to get back but potentially had an underlying injury, with him not being on form all season compared to the previous campaign. Morgan-Smith came into the area and squared the ball to Willmott who had a fairly easy tap in despite Lee Vaughan trying to block it on the line. Unfortunately he couldn't do so as the ball went into the net.
It wasn't just an isolated incident that saw Luton go in a goal to the good at half time. The midfield seemed to go continually missing in the first half with Luton able to come forward at will at times with the left side of the Harriers formation consistently targeted at Gittings (the covering midfielder) or Williams un-able to cope with the former Rushden players O'Connor and Osano in tandem taking apart the Harriers defence.
Towards the end of the half Williams was called off and replaced with Scott Phelan. We had used two subs and the first half wasn't even out.