KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 1 LUTON TOWN 2
FA Trophy third round
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Different competition, same result. As with their Blue Square Bet Premier meeting earlier in the season, Luton Town were 2-1 winners over Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough last night, booking their place in the quarter finals of the FA Trophy after an end-to-end encounter.
Their reward is a home tie with either fellow Conference sides Gateshead or Alfreton Town, whose tie was again postponed due to the weather, but they could so easily have been doing it all again in a week’s time had Nick Wright not had a late goal chalked off for offside.
Given the amount of chances created by both teams during the match it was perhaps surprising that all of the goals came in the first 45 minutes.
Jake Howells had Luton ahead before Dan Bradley responded, with Stuart Fleetwood grabbing what proved to be the winner after having a penalty saved by Dean Lyness.
Luton enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, but it was Kidderminster who carved out the first two real chances of the game in the ninth minute. Mickey Demetriou saw his free kick deflect off the wall after Jamille Matt had been fouled on the edge of the box, and then Kyle Storer wasted a glorious opportunity to head home the resulting corner after Hatters keeper Mark Tyler had missed the ball.
At the other end, Robbie Willmott shot high over the bar from the edge of the box three minutes later, while Tyler was called into action to deny Storer from a well-struck free kick 25 yards out on the quarter hour.
Nevertheless the Hatters continued to control proceedings and on 23 minutes they breached the obdurate Kidderminster defence with Howells’ close range shot.
It came after Greg Taylor had played a ranging pass down the left wing to Fleetwood, who shook off his marker before racing away then cutting back into the box and putting the ball on a plate for Howells to slot home his sixth of the season. But the Harriers may have considered themselves unfortunate not to be level in the 27th minute.
It was some fine defending from Shane Blackett that preserved his side’s slender lead, with the centre half getting to Demetriou’s dangerous near-post cross before the lurking Batt.
Kidderminster then opted for the short corner routine, only for it to break down with Storer shooting well over from 18 yards. They were level just after the half hour though, hitting Town on the counter attack. Batt provided the through ball to unchecked runner Bradley, who calmly slotted past Tyler for the equaliser. That proved the precursor to a manic couple of minutes that upped the dramatic stakes.
From the kick-off, Luton went straight back up the other end and were awarded a penalty when Taylor was contentiously deemed to have been tripped. Yet the Hatters’ woes from the spot continued when Fleetwood’s well-struck effort was superbly saved by Kiddie stopper Dean Lyness. ‘Justice!’ cried the home supporters in front of the press bench who had been considerably irked by the decision from referee Stephen Bratt.
Both sides could have easily added to their tally before half time. Batt headed just wide from six yards for the hosts, while Henry blasted a shot over from inside the area. Fleetwood was then denied again by Lyness three minutes before the interval after being played in by Jon Paul Kissock’s deft back heel.
However, Fleetwood had Town back in front right on the stroke of half time when he beat the offside trap and rounded Lyness restore his side’s one goal lead.
Harriers skipper Mike Williams went close to levelling things up again on 54 minutes when he unleashed a strike from 20 yards that Tyler managed to tip away one-handed as the hosts battled to force their way back into the reckoning. Yet they were nearly undone again three minutes later, only for Lyness to save well from Howells.
Nick Wright also wasted a good chance for Kidderminster in the 62nd minute, rifling just wide after bursting clear down the left wing and cutting back inside.
Luton were also still creating chances, with Curtis Osano firing into the side netting and Taylor shooting over.
The emphasis on attack meant both sides were leaving themselves vulnerable at the back and as the match headed into the final 20 minutes Kiddie again went close through goal scorer Bradley and Wright, while Howells could have settled things in the 80th minute when he headed Taylor’s cross wide while unmarked in the box.
The hosts thought they had secured a replay as the clock ticked over into added time, but Wright’s fine strike counted for nothing as he was flagged for offside.
LUTON: Tyler; Osano, Beckwith, Blackett, Taylor; Henry (O’Donnell 85), Lawless (c), Kissock (Watkins 74); Willmott, Fleetwood (Woolley 68), Howells
Unused subs: K. Pilkington, Kovacs
REFEREE: Stephen Bratt (W. Mids)
ATTENDANCE - 1,186