Hatters lift Beds Senior Cup after nine-goal thriller

Beds FA Senior Cup Final

Luton Town 5 Dunstable Town 4 AET

HATTERS won the Beds Senior Cup final for the first time since 1906 with an truly absorbing 5-4 win over Dunstable Town last night, writes Mike Simmonds.

An enthralling end-to-end affair had everything, as Town trailed 2-0 with 12 minutes remaining, before drawing level to force extra time.

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A glorious long-range strike from former Hatter Peter Holmes then looked to have forced penalties at 4-4, only for Dan Walker to nab a superb winner at the death.

Town picked a team packed with first team experience, as only goalkeeper Lewis Kidd had yet to make make his debut.

With Wembley beckoning, striker Amari Morgan-Smith was given the chance to build up his match fitness, as were Greg Taylor and Craig McAllister, with all three having come off the bench at Wrexham the previous day.

Molten Spartan SML Premier Division runners-up Dunstable acquitted themselves well early on and took the lead on 10 minutes when Daniel Mead volleyed home from close range.

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Luton tried to hit back, mainly through the direct running of Walker, with one foray forward leading to JJ O’Donnell slamming wide.

The Blues included another ex-Town player in midfielder Dean Brennan and he backheeled into the path of top scorer Nathan Frater who arrowed just wide.

At the other end, Walker was even closer as after lining up a drive, it clipped a defender and sailed narrowly wide.

Morgan-Smith was denied on 41 minutes when Andre Boucaud’s quick free kick found the unmarked forward, but his curler produced a stunning reflex save by Paul Taylor.

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Town kept pressing and with space opening up for O’Donnell, he sent a right-footer over the bar.

Luton replaced Taylor with Alex Lacey at the break, while Blues came out strongly with Frater shooting low at Kidd, before whipping another effort in that young keeper palmed away.

Morgan-Smith soon made way for Alasan Ann, but Dunstable had their second on 63 minutes.

Boucaud was caught in possession and in trying to chase the ball down, left a gaping hole in the middle of defence allowing Nick Jackson to chip ball through for Lee Roache who toe-poked over Kidd and into the net.

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Town tried to back as to hit back as John Paul Kissock played a one-two and then fired a shot that Taylor parried away, while Blues centre half Damen Pickering showed great technique to spank a volley from 40 yards into the arms of Kidd.

O’Donnell powered an effort that Taylor just about held at the second attempt, but the youngster had his rewards with 12 minutes left when a 25-yarder somehow found its way through the keepers dive.

It was 2-2 on 85 minutes as O’Donnell’s low shot again wasn’t dealt with by Taylor, the ball squirming out of his grasp, and Ann reacted quickest to the rebound, finding the far corner.

The all or nothing Blues keeper then produced a marvellous save after McAllister tricked his way into the area and fired goalwards, only for Taylor to somehow deflect his shot to safety.

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McAllister came close again moments later, but couldn’t quite get enough bend on his shot, while Walker should have won the cup but somehow skied Blackett’s cross over from a yard out.

Although starting to lag, Dunstable had their moments too as Holmes’ low drive took a deflection off Lacey, but the wrong-footed Kidd did well to save.

An end to end last few seconds then saw Lacey head goalwards, but Taylor held on.

In the opening moments of extra time, Roache came within a whisker of his second, driving into the box but chipping wide, before Hatters looked to have finally secured the advantage as Walker broke clear and slotted past Taylor.

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But Dunstable levelled straight away though as Shane Wood rose at the far post to head into the bottom corner from two yards out, with Kidd rooted to his goal-line.

Roache then took off on a 40-yard run, outmuscling Lacey and turning Dean Beckwith inside and out, before Kidd rushed off his line to block.

O’Donnell almost had another with a snapshot volley that thudded into the advertising hoardings, while the second half saw Walker slam into the side-netting.

Hatters wrested the advantage back once more on 110 minute as Newman Carney’s right wrong cross was met by a bullet header from Shane Blackett.

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Dunstable were unbowed though as Roache headed against the bar and Frater volleyed wide, while O’Donnell then saw his header bounce off the top of the bar not once but twice, before going over.

Amazingly it was 4-4 when Holmes took aim from fully 35 yards and arrowed a stonking shot into the net off the bar with Kidd grasping thin air.

With penalties looming, Town finally broke their opponents resistance as Boucaud sprung forward and played in Walker who cut inside and cracked a glorious left-footed daisy cutter inside the far corner.

Luton Town: Lewis Kidd, Dan Gleeson, Greg Taylor (Alex Lacey 46), Andre Boucaud, Dean Beckwith (C), Shane Blackett, Dan Walker, Amari Morgan-Smith (Alasan Ann 52), Craig McAllister (Newman Carney 67), John Paul Kissock, JJ O’Donnell.

Subs not used: Jerry Nash, Josh Carpenter.

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Dunstable: Paul Taylor, Mark Boyce, Daniel Mead, Joseph Bruce, Shane Wood, Damen Pickering (Nicholas Leach 90) Peter Holmes (C), Dean Brennan (George Brinkman 57), Nathan Frater, Lee Roache, Nicholas Jackson.

Subs not used: Craig Henney, Jack Nelly.

Referee: G Horwood.

Assistants: J Aldous, S Pater.

Fourth Official: M Sage.

Attendance: 252.

Bookings: Boyce, Brinkman 79, Gleeson 105.