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Luton Town 6 Harriers 0

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Date: 28-12-13gif Venue: Kenilworth Roadgif att: 8488gif away fans: 203
Harriers suffer worst defeat since Hull (6-1) in 2003

gif Report by Philip Lench
The Harriers crashed to their worst defeat since 2003 today when a rampant Luton put six goals past them to go to the top of the table.  The game also saw our third red card of the season following some farcical refereeing by Kinersley when he sent off Chey Dunkley after having never seen the incident in the first place and relying on his assistant and then proceeding to send off the wrong man completely, Josh Gowling, before changing his obviously be-fuddled mind.  To my mind a referee who hasn't seen the incident and then sends the wrong man off should hold his hands up, say sorry, and then have given Dunkley the benefit of the doubt and issued a yellow card instead.

Now Chey will miss the New Years Day game at Hereford while his team mates attempt to put this shambles behind them and begin to play for the shirt.

We started the game off with numerous changes to both the starting eleven and even more so to the bench.  Josh Gowling was back from suspension while Danny Jackman retained his position at left back due to the absence of Mickey Demetriou, apparently injured in the Hereford game.  The rest of the starters was the same as the other day but on the bench there was no James Dance or Anthony Malbon for reasons unknown but there was a place for Marvin Johnson once more and also Dior Angus.  Jamie Grimes was there too but he was criminally ignored when it came to the crunch of replacing a defender.

In front of a season high crowd for Luton, of 8488, it was the Harriers that started the strongest with most of the play coming from the men in Red.  Early on Joe Lolley sent an effort wide of Mark Tylers upright and then played in Jack Byrne only to see Byrne slip over as he was about to shoot but it was the Iceman who came close to scoring again in the twentieth minute when he bought out a save of 'worldy' quality from Tyler who somehow managed to get a fingertip to the ball and tip it over for a corner.

Slowly the home side began to find their feet in the game and the scoring commenced in the twenty seventh minute when a shot came in from Matt Robinson that the Harriers keeper, Danny Lewis, could only manage to push away.  It fell kindly for Luke Gutteridge to unstoppably power the ball home through a ruck of Harriers players.

The Harriers tried to respond, mainly through Joe Lolley, but they found the big Luton defence in resolute form and not about to give anything away.  Jack Byrne should have done better after Lolley had played the ball over to him in acres of space but his weak header was easily collected by the veteran Town keeper.

Ten minutes from the break Luton should have doubled the lead when Alex Lawless found himself in space but his angled shot was pushed away by Lewis.  Lolley also found himself with another chance to score soon after when Callum Gittings played the wideman in to shoot but again Tyler was equal to the task and produced a fine save.

The teams went into the break with the hosts on top score wise but the Harriers looking to get back into the game and hopefully pull back that one goal deficit in the second period.

Neither they, nor the fans, knew what was coming.
  HT: 1 - 0
It didn't take Luton long into this half to show that they meant business as they commenced the onslaught.

Andre Gray was the first to show the intention when he sent a shot just wide and then Jake Howells, often a thorn in Harriers side in previous meetings, saw his shot parried away by Lewis for a corner.  Howells had come on seconds before the break for the injured Pelly Ruddock and he seemed to be the catalyst for Lutons superiority.

It was a cross from Howells that doubled the lead for Town when he easily wrong footed Lee Vaughan to send over a sweeping cross to the poorly marked Paul Benson.  Neither Chey Dunkley or Danny Jackman left the ground as Benson soared above them to send a powerful header beyond Lewis' reach.  Only a few seconds more and it was 3-0 and total incompetence from a so called professional referee.

A well weighted ball from Gray found Benson perfectly and as he strode into the box Chey Dunkley challenged him but hardly touched him.  The brush against Benson was enough to trigger the fall and even though Vaughan was between Benson and the keeper the referee still decided that Dunkley was the last man but to make sure he questioned his assistant, who seemed equally as clueless.  He then strode back and brandished the red card at Josh Gowling before his team mates started to protest.  He finally went to confer with the lino again and this time he sent off the 'right' man even though by then it should have been downgraded to a yellow card to save any further embarrassment.  Howells stroked the ensuing penalty home easily.

The Harriers hearts were by now broken and it was time to regroup and limit the consequences of being down to ten men.  Sadly and incredibly Steve Burr opted to take off our most dangerous striker, Lolley, to bring a midfielder in Lee Fowler.  The better option would have been to replace like with like and bring on Jamie Grimes but Burr obviously felt that Fowler was the better option.  How wrong could he be because just seven minutes later he bought a winger back on when Marvin Johnson replaced Amari Morgan-Smith???

Michael Gash, in one of his rare glimpses of goal, almost pulled the Harriers back into the game but his shot was again saved easily.  By then it was all too late and minutes later Howells scored again with a tap in at the far post after being left unmarked.

The fifth goal for Luton came ten minutes later when Scott Griffiths, again poorly marked, headed the ball home from a free kick but the best goal was reserved for last when a a poor Gittings pass was intercepted to lead to a fine seven man move that ended with a superb Benson through ball to Gutteridge who, in one move, bent the ball around the static Lewis and into the net.

We now have to regroup for Hereford in a few days time and although they won't be as professional and complete as Luton they will have their tails in the air following their 1-0 win against FGR this evening.  But it's not just the players who must be looking at themselves following this shambles.  Steve Burr and Gary Whild both need to look hard and long at the tactics used and also the shocking use of substitutes in recent games that culminated today in a totally unsuitable bench for the game and, even if it had been suitable, then the choice of those subs finally sent on was the wrong decision completely.
  FT: 6 - 0

 Goals for Luton: Guttridge 28, 86, Benson 52, Howells 56 (pen), 70, Griffiths 79



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Latest table and stats here  

Luton Town  goals   subs   cards      Harriers  goals   subs   cards 
Tyler     Lewis  
Henry     L Vaughan
Ruddock gif     Jackman  
Davis     Storer  
McNulty     Dunkley
Griffiths gif     Gowling  
Lawless     Byrne gif  
Robinson     Gittings
Guttridge gif   Gash  
Benson gif gif   Morgan-Smith gif
Gray     Lolley gif  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Justham     N Vaughan  
Cullen gif - 80     Johnson gif - 67  
Mawson     Fowler gif - 60  
Howells gif gif - 45     Grimes  
Wall     Angus gif - 88  

REFEREE:
Mr N Kinseley
Essex





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