FA Trophy first round replay: Luton Town 3 (2) Dorchester Town 1 (0)
Dan Walker netted twice as Luton Town finally ended their Dorchester Town saga with a comfortable 3-1 win at Kenilworth Road last night, writes Mike Simmonds.
Hatters boss Paul Buckle made eight changes for the clash with Jon Shaw making a welcome return, while James Dance started for the first time since January 18.
Matt Robinson made his full Luton debut, with Adam Watkins, Simon Ainge, Alex Lacey, Dean Brill and Walker all back in the starting line-up.
In front of Luton’s lowest ever home crowd in their history, just 897, with a meagre 16 away fans, there was precious little action in the opening moments, but completely out of the blue, Town were ahead on 11 minutes.
Shaw’s towering knock down was taken on by O’Donnell outside the box and and he unleashed a right-footed volley that beat the leaden-footed Jason Matthews.
The second arrived on 17 minutes when a ball forward was nodded on by Shaw and Walker raced clear to round Matthews with consummate ease before rolling into the net.
Town were momentarily down to 10 men when the curse of the centre-halves struck again as a clash of heads saw Lacey leave the field with what looked like a broken nose, just as Dean Beckwith had done on Saturday.
Jake Howells replaced the desperately unfortunate youngster, as Dorchester finally threatened with Richard Logan’s flicked header palmed over the bar by Brill.
It should have been 3-0 on 33 minutes as Dance picked up a clearance in the area and then rifled goalwards, but his aim was wayward.
After the break, Town stepped off the pace as Alex Lawless misread a high ball forward and Logan took a touch before shooting straight at the retreating Brill.
Hatters threatened sporadically with Walker firing into the side-netting on 59 minutes, while some lovely feet by Lawless fashioned a shooting chance, but his curler lacked precision.
Walker’s pace was starting to cause the visiting backline problems and from another burst, his cross was swept wide by O’Donnell.
It was 3-0 on 69 minutes when Walker was found by Watkins’ neat pass and rounded the onrushing Matthews once more before slotting into the empty net.
The striker was inches away from his hat-trick when he just couldn’t extend his limbs long enough to reach substitute Stuart Fleetwood’s low driven cross.
Robinson then tested Matthews from distance, before the goal of the night came with five minutes to go as Jake Gosling’s pinpoint cross was superbly rifled in on the volley at full stretch by substitute Dan Thompson.
Hatters could and should have made it 4-1 in injury time when Robinson’s clearance sent Fleetwood clear, but after beating Matthews to the ball, his touch was way too heavy and went out for a goal-kick.
It mattered not though as the whistle went straight afterwards, sending Town through a second round at Northern Premier side Matlock Town later this month.
Hatters: Dean Brill, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Alex Lawless, Jon Shaw (C), Simon Ainge, Adam Watkins, Alex Lacey (Jake Howells 24), JJ O’Donnell (Jake Woolley 82), James Dance (Stuart Fleetwood 66), Matt Robinson, Dan Walker. Substitutes not used: Arnaud Mendy, Andre Gray.
Magpies: Jason Matthews, Mark Jermyn (C), Neil Martin (Jake Smeeton 37), Charlie Clough, Arran Pugh, Lewis Morgan, Jake Gosling, Ashley Nicholls, Ben Watson (Dan Thompson 81), Richard Logan, Sam Malsom (Nick Crittenden 78). Substitutes not used: Nathan Walker, George Colson.
Referee: C Breakspear.
Assistant Referees: O Jackson and N Wilde.
Fourth Official: L Wood.
Attendance: 897 (16 away).
Star Hatter: Dan Walker.