Saturday, 29 October 2011

Luton Town 5 v Hendon 1 - FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round

Saturday 29th October 2011, at Kenilworth Road
FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round

Luton Town (3) 5
Aaron O'Connor 8 pen, 72, James Dance 13,
Tommy Wright 25, Stuart Fleetwood 71
Hendon (1) 1
George McCluskey 5

Admission £12, Programme £2,
Attendance 2,329 (193 visiting fans)
Luton Town: K. Pilkington, Osano, Beckwith, Antwi, Howells, Dance, Hand, Kissock, O'Connor, Wright, Fleetwood. Subs: Tyler, Samuel, Carden, Henry, Tavernier, Willmott, Crow.

Hendon: Thomas, Parker, Cousins, Peacock, Wharton, C. MacLaren, Busby, McCluskey, Charles, K. MacLaren, Aite-Ouakrim. Subs: Rankin, Bubb, Fraser, Dyer, Laurencin, Burgess, Lewis.One and a half dozen years ago (approx), in the days before colour photography was invented, this father and son team, set out on life's wondrous journey together. We live 122 miles apart these days ... and my granddaughter, his niece, has been missing her uncle Sam like mad since he went away to the University of Bedfordshire a month ago, so today we arranged for them to have a day out at the cinema and 'stuff' together.

Being the kind of 'family guy' who believes in letting the younger members of my fold do their own thing and giving them space to develop their own ideas, whilst picking up the pieces when required, offering advice when asked for it and having a far too relaxed policy on giving them financial assistance on a frequent basis, ahem! ... I decided to give them some quality time together during the day and then meet up with them for a big slap up feast at teatime.

Tsk, what on earth was I going to kill time during the afternoon?
Oh, I know!
I could have joined the 89 hardy souls who went to see Dunstable Town beat Stotfold 2-1 in the Molten Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division today, because that was only a few miles drive away, but I opted to stay in Luton itself instead, because it gave me more time to shop.
My son had found me a music store in town, that had loads of Trojan label music for sale at prices that would've tempted even the biggest skinflint to get his hand very deeply into his pocket ... and I did!
After all, there is always room for another 70 or so 'essential' purchases in everyone's record collection, isn't there!?
Being of a 'Gung-Ho!' mentality when it comes to exploring a variety of interesting neighbourhood's on my travels, I decided to ignore all the advice to avoid the Bury Park estate 'short cut' with all it's (apparently) threatening narrow alleyways and (allegedly) dubious locals ... and I got to Kenilworth Road in half the time I would've done if I taken the circuitous route that the Luton Town website recommends.
I've been to the Hatters ground loads of times before and I've never had an ounce of bother in and around these so called 'mean streets'.
A rear view of the executive boxes at LTFC

The football ground stands in the middle of the part of town that is predominantly, almost to the point of exclusivity, a Muslim community.
Yet the vast majority of people who actually attend matches therein, are white and of English origin.
Maybe the fact supporting your local football team requires a degree of partisan tribalism and borderline mob mentality, that goes against the grain of the 'Love for all, hatred for none' principles of the teachings of Islam ... and explains the demographic juxtaposition of your typical Saturday afternoon crowd at Kenilworth Road.
Either way, it's outside my scope of learning and understanding, so I won't expound further.
In Luton, people just get on with minding their own business and leave everybody else to get on with theirs too.
It seems to work.
As I entered the ground, the flickering screen in the small bar under the Kenilworth Road Stand, was showing the end of the live Premier League game on Sky TV, where Arsenal were beating Chelsea 5-3 at Stamford Bridge (or whatever brand name it has these days).
There have been a lot of high scoring games in the top flight of late, some might say that this is testimony to it being the 'greatest league in the world', but I reckon it just proves a lot of defenders who are supposed to be among the elite, are in truth, just average Joe's who are getting paid far too much.
I used to watch a lot of 1st Division games back in the day, but since the Premier League came along, I've only been to two ... and that was just to tick off a couple of grounds I hadn't visited before.
I moved away from the bar area when a local potential Mastermind contender latched on to me and declared, "Of course, what we've got today is your classic FA Cup tie between a decent sized and established Football League club and a Non League minnow that nobody has even heard of!"
Hmm, I wonder when he last looked at any League table then ... and how long he carried on talking before he realised I had just ignored him and buggered off?
From the kick off, Luton took the game to their Isthmian League Premier division visitors and had forced two corners at the Oak Road End, one from the right, then one from the left inside the first two minutes, but there was no end product to either move.
On 5 minutes, Hendon got a free kick, out to the right hand side of Luton's penalty area.
Scott Cousins floated the ball into the box and George McCluskey got up unmarked to knock the ball past the former Mansfield Town ... and some other Notts team's ... goalkeeper, Kevin Pilkington.
5 minutes gone and George McCluskey heads the visitors
in front, while Kevin Pilkington grasps at thin air

But three minutes later, Luton were awarded a penalty after Dean Beckwith was upended in the box ... and yet another former Stags player, Aaron O'Connor netted the equaliser.
On 13 minutes, the Hatters were in front, when Curtis Osano crossed the ball in from the right and James Dance got in amongst the Hendon defence to head the ball home.
Unfortunately for the goalscorer, it was his last taste of the action and he was stretchered off with a head injury sustained whilst putting his side ahead.
Sport hurts!
Don't forget! If you are going to watch Luton Town, be nice
to the ladies in the ticket office or you might regret it

Aaron O'Connor thought he had put Luton 3-1 ahead, when he ran diagonally from right to left across the Hendon defence and nudged the ball gently beyond the keeper's reach ... the effort was goal-bound, but Stuart Fleetwood gave it a final touch, just to make sure and to claim the goal for himself, he turned to take the acclaim of the crowd but saw the linesman's flag instead. Fleetwood had wandered offside and effectively cancelled out O'Connor's second goal ... he'll be popular!
After more good work on the right from Curtis Osana, Tommy Wright headed Luton's third goal on 25 minutes.
Hendon looked a bit deflated, but kept things ticking over until the interval when they could regroup and have a fresh look at things. Luton for their part, obviously had a couple of players who could do their visitors some real damage going forward like John Paul Kissock and the aforementioned Curtis Osana.
Hendon started the second half like they wanted to make a game off it and for a while the home crowd started to become a bit restless as their defenders hoofed a series of clearances into touch instead of using the ball to their advantage when they had possession.
Elliott Charles received the ball on the edge of the Luton box, he had time to take aim and fire, but rushed his shot and missed woefully in front of the travelling supporters.
Hendon were applying a lot of pressure around the box, but couldn't quite find the key to unlock the Hatters defence.
ON 63 minutes, Kevin Maclaren was sent off, when he got a second yellow card for a bad tackle on Luton's John Paul Kissock ... and now Hendon were really up against it.
On 71 minutes Hendon were briefly down to nine men while Jamie Busbly was off the pitch receiving treatment for a head injury.
Luton blitzed Hendon and used their numerical advantage to the full with two goals in a minute from Fleetwood and O'Connor.
Stuart Fleetwood

As things stood at this point, 5-1 was perhaps a bit of a flattering margin for Luton to be in front by, but by the end of the game, taking into account the O'Connor effort that Fleetwood had rendered null and void in the first half and a whole load of chances that went begging late on, the Hatters were actually good value for their victory.
It did get a bit like the Alamo towards the end.
Back in Luton town centre, the young folk had been having a great time and had managed to spend every last penny I'd left them with, they're good at that sort of thing!
So via a cash-point we headed to Wetherspoon's and stuffed our faces.
Travel tip ... sticking to the legal speed limit, as one does when there is a minor in the car, bugger the M1, because the A6, A421, A1 route back up to North Notts from Luton, takes less than two hours to complete.

You Tube highlights of the game ...