Town Blink first but battle back with two late goals to go top
Late goals from JJ O’Donnell and Stuart Fleetwood saw Town battle back from a goal down to triumph 2-1 at Hyde tonight and go top of the embryonic Blue Square Bet Premier table, writes Mark Wood.
Ex-Hatter Matthew Blinkhorn had given the Tigers the lead 10 minutes into the second half, but the Hatters found a second win to fight back and claim victory on their first-ever trip to Ewen Fields.
Town named the same side that won 2-0 at Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday night, the only change coming on the bench where Jake Howells, back from Wales U21 duty, replaced Dan Walker.
Hyde looked to exploit their mobility up front early on, but the Hatters should have taken the lead on seven minutes when Ronnie Henry and Alex Lawless combined with the midfielder standing the ball up to the back post, but target man Jon Shaw could only head over with the better placed Scott Rendell lurking behind.
Luton then had shotus for a penalty waved away on 19 minutes when Shaw found Lawless and his first-time effort deflected behind for a corner.
And from the half-cleared corner Rendell’s challenge fell nicely for Shaw but he could only blaze a good chance over, before the target man tried to play in Fleetwood but his heavy touch took the ball too far.
Town were playing all of the football but were given a warning on 26 minutes when Phil Jevons swerved an effort into the side netting from the edge of the box.
Two minutes later Javons was allowed to burst on to a half-cleared free-kick and his powerful blast was beaten away by Mark Tyler.
The Luton stopper then had to be alert from the resulting corner when the ball broke to Robbie Williams but the centre-half’s weak effort was well snaffled by Tyler.
More good shouts for a penalty from Luton were waved away again just after the half hour when Williams seemed to blatantly push Rendell over to get to a high ball into the box.
The chances were coming thick and fast and the Tigers should have take the lead seconds later when Callum Byrne got free on the left and ex-Hatter Blinkhorn couldn’t turn his cross-shot home from close range.
Both teams were creating chances and Shaw’s powerful header from O’Donnell’s corner was somehow repelled by a throng of bodies, while at the other end Scott Spencer sprung the offside trap and, although he slid past Tyler the Luton keeper was able to recover and gather.
A training ground move from the Hatters should have seen take the lead with six minutes of the half left when O’Donnell’s free-kick found the onrushing Janos Kovacs and his header was perfect for Shaw to turn home but he could only scuff wide from a couple of yards out.
Luton looked to put the ball into the box at every opportunity but Rendell could only glance Fleetwood’s delivery wide while Greg Taylor’s deep cross was gloved behind by the keeper with Shaw lurking.
Hyde started the second half brightly having one shot from a goalmouth scramble blocked behind before Josh Brizell burst forward from right-back but could only hammer a good chance wide.
Rendell smashed an overly-ambitious effort off target as Town were reduced to far too many long balls forward aimed at their two target men.
And the Tigers took the lead out of the blue on 55 minutes when Blinkhorn showed some nice skill on the edge of the box before blasting an unstoppable effort past the despairing dive of Tyler who, despite getting a good hand on it, couldn’t keep it out.
An off-the-ball incident saw Williams elbow Fleetwood on 59 minutes to leave the Luton striker on the floor, but none of the officials saw it as the defender went unpunished.
Both Howells and Andre Gray were plunged into the fray as the visitors desperately searched for a way back into the game, but it was Hyde who continued to press with Brizell’s low effort gathered by Tyler.
A diagonal ball into the box finally paid dividends for Luton as they unexectedly equalised on 69 minutes. Shaw competed for Howells’ cross and Rendell laid the ball into O’Donnell’s path whose low shot flew straight past the unsighted David Carnell.
A first-time effort from Henry flew wide on 74 minutes before from scattered defence Town snatched the lead on 78 minutes. Tyler scampered out of his box to sweep up the danger and found Henry whose pass down the line was perfect for the lightning Gray to outpace his man before squaring into space for Fleetwood to fire home in off the bar for his fourth goal is three games.
Playing with renewed vigour and belief Town almost made it three on 83 minutes when more good work from O’Donnell saw him release Shaw, but his left-footed effort was well blocked by the sliding Luke Ashworth.
Scott Spencer then threatened as four minutes of stoppage time were added. The rain pounded down at the end as Hyde won a late corner and keeper Carnell joined the attack but the delivery was overhit and the final whistle followed soon after as Luton reached the summit.
Tigers (4-3-3): David Carnell, Josh Brizell, Adam Griffin (C), Luke Ashworth, Alex Brown (David McNiven 75), Callum Byrne (Kelvin Lomax 89), Scott Spencer, Phil Jevons (Grant Spencer 75), Robbie Williams, Matthew Cassidy, Matthew Blinkhorn. Substitutes not used: Ashley Frith, Daniel Douglas-Pringle.
Hatters (4-3-3): Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Greg Taylor (Jake Howells 61), Janos Kovacs, Alex Lawless, Jon Shaw, Scott Rendell, Stuart Fleetwood (Matthew Robinson 87), JJ O’Donnell, Yaser Kasim (Andre Gray 64), Ronnie Henry (C). Substitutes not used: Dean Beckwith, Dean Brill.
Booked: Kasim 41; Williams 64.
Referee: Darren Handley.
Assistant Referees: James Mainwaring and David Croft.
Fourth Official: Ben Toner.
Star Hatter: JJ O’Donnell. Boundless energy and his equaliser changed the course of the game.