Willmott wins it as Hatters close on the play-offs
Blue Square Bet Premier: Luton Town 1 (0) Kidderminster Harriers 0 (0)
DOMINANT Luton closed on the play-offs as they ground out a massively important 1-0 victory over fellow hopefuls Kidderminster Harriers at a rocking Kenilworth Road this afternoon, writes Mark Wood.
A season high crowd of 8,415 crammed into the ground for the make-or-break encounter against the Harriers and Town grabbed the winner on 67 minutes when Robbie Willmott latched on to keeper Mark Tyler’s astute pass before cutting back in from the byline and lashing an unstoppable effort past Tony Breeden in the visitors’ goal.
Town named an unchanged side from the team that saw off Ebbsfleet 3-0 at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night. The only change came on the bench where the fit-again Greg Taylor replaced John Paul Kissock.
Both sides attacked from the off with the centre circle area proving particularly treacherous with players slipping over left, right and centre.
But it was Luton who created the first chance on 10 minutes when Curtis Osano cut inside and dragged across the face of goal from the edge of the area.
Winger Marvin Johnson did well to beat Osano moments later before throwing himself to floor in the box with Janos Kovacs in close attendance and he was promptly booked by referee D Bond for diving.
Creative Town almost carved out an opening on 17 minutes when Stuart Fleetwood’s clever backheel found the onrushing Jake Howells and his pull-back picked out Willmott and his attempt to find the near bottom corner was well blocked.
Controversy again engulfed Kenilworth Road two minutes later when Fleetwood caught Kyle Storer with a late challenge and the Harriers player sprang to his feet and pushed the Luton striker over, but only a yellow card was shown.
Willmott whizzed wide seconds later, while a flowing Harriers counter ended in Johnson firing way off target.
Luton were looking the more likely and twice went close from Willmott’s corner on 29 minutes. Kovacs’ header was hacked off the line by Lee Vaughan before the ball rebounded straight to him but the giant Hungarian could only fire over a sharp chance over.
Cross-after-cross was flashed across the Kidderminster box in the closing stages of the first half but found no takers as dominant Luton somehow went in at the break all-square.
Osano’s slid Andre Gray in in the opening seconds of the second half but was crowded out in the box before Howells whistled just over.
Quick feet in the box saw Gray beat his man five minutes in but he could only poke straight at Kidderminster keeper Breeden.
Willmott found room for himself but could only find Breeden’s midriff before a flowing Hatters attack ended in Fleetwood hooking over.
On the hour Johnson drove a low effort at Tyler after a Kiddy corner was half-cleared and substitute Ryan Rowe almost made an instant impact when he jinked across the box and forced a sprawling save out of Tyler.
But the Hatters grabbed the all-important opening goal on 67 minutes when Tyler’s raking pass found the onrushing Willmott, who cut back from the byline and buried an unstopped effort past Breeden.
Fleetwood and Adam Watkins rained in wayward efforts as Town proceeded to dominate, although the Harriers continued to look dangerous at set-pieces with one corner dropping dangerously in the box before Osano could hack away.
A miskicked Breeden clearance went straight to Fleetwood on 81 minutes but his opportunistic strike was never troubling the out of position keeper.
Moments later a presentable opportunity dropped to Alex Lawless on the edge of the box but he spiralled over.
Substitutes for both sides were rolled on and Kidderminster twice went close with just a minute left to grabbing an invaluable point.
A deep corner to the far stick was headed against the base of the post by Luke Jones and substitute Steve Guinan almost made an instant impact when his follow-up was deflected over the bar by the back of the flying Howells.
An acrobatic overhead-kick by Guinan then ran just wide and Luton almost made it two in the dying embers when Gray flicked on for substitute Craig McAllister but he was thwarted by the offside flag and keeper Breeden and Town hung on for a priceless victory as they closed on a play-off place.
Hatters (4-4-2): Mark Tyler, Keith Keane, George Pilkington (C), Alex Lawless, Robbie Willmott (Shane Blackett 85), Stuart Fleetwood (Craig McAllister 83), Jake Howells, Curtis Osano, Andre Gray, Adam Watkins (Godfrey Poku 79), Janos Kovacs. Substitutes not used: Dan Gleeson, Greg Taylor.
Harriers (4-4-2): Tony Breeden, Lee Vaughan, Mike Williams (C), Luke Jones, Tom Marshall, Dave Hankin (Steve Guinan 88), James Vincent, Nick Wright (Ryan Rowe 64), Kyle Storer (Daniel Bradley 81), Anthony Malbon, Marvin Johnson. Substitutes not used: Dane Lyness, Mickey Demetriou.
Bookings: Johnson 14; Storer 19; Keane 62.
Referee: D Bond.
Assistant Referees: J Steel and P Harris.
Fourth Official: I Fissenden.
Attendance: 8,415 (751 Kidderminster).
Star Hatter: Curtis Osano. His best game in a Luton shirt.
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Sunday 19 May 2013
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