Lambs Chopped

 

After what seemed like an eternity since the last home league game the Hatters comprehensively beat a rather subdued Tamworth team.

Andre Boucaud made a belated debut in a midfield comprising a rare start (in the league) for JP Kissock and Alex Lawless. Up front was the ever-willing and sharp Stuart Fleetwood, with Howells on the left and O’Connor on the right.

Osano reprised his role at right back in an otherwise unchanged back division of Taylor, Pilks, Kovacs and Tyler.

Fifteen degrees warmer than this time last week (though it didn’t always feel it), today’s crowd and indeed the players experienced some of Bedfordshire’s best rain. Fortunately, this had cleared up by half time which was just as well as the electricity, thus the floodlights was cut off for much of the second half. I don’t know if it was because Gary hadn’t paid the bill or if all of Bury Park was cut off, but it was quite pleasant enough to sit in the gloom for forty minutes. In fact the lights came back on just before the end in an embarrassing late entrance, a little like Derek Smalls’ late exit from his pod in This is Spinal Tap. Ah the irony of having NiceIC as match sponsors.

Osano went off shortly after the goal which was a shame (yes, I did type that) because he had been in so much space out wide on the right touchline, you had to wonder if he was playing in the same game. Or if he’d wound the team up the wrong way and they were avoiding him like a smelly kid in the playground. Strangely, one of the few times we did manage to get the ball to him he surged into the box and shot/crossed, the ball found Fleetwood to took a touch and neatly rounded the keeper for an expert finish which warmed us up.

Brabin said afterwards that Osano had felt his hamstring tighten with all the exertion, and so they brought him off as precaution. Lawless slotted in at right back, breaking up a promising midfield three – and Watkins came in, with Boucaud moving back to the deeper of the three midfielders.

We had three hungry midfielders after that, and their desire to dominate showed. Kissock was always lively, he played some good through balls and cross field balls as well as his characteristic dribbles and step overs. Watkins was as dynamic as usual and Boucaud impressed me – with his work rate, his passing accuracy and his vision (but not his shooting!). Seems to be a good addition to me – but how many midfielders do we have now? Especially as he sees Henry in a free role – what chance has young Watkins got with Keano waiting in the wings – and Poku – good enough to start with Southport each week and not a sniff of the bench for us. How far back is Henry behind all those? Bodes well for the cup next week though…

Fleetwood’s goal puts him level with AMS on ten goals for the season. Unlike Danny Crow who doesn’t like playing on his own up front, Fleetwood seems to relish it. When McAllister came on later on Fleetwood moved to the left, but still up top. Now those two looked as if they had played together before as McAllister nodded on to Fleetwood with impunity – despite being marked by the enormous Watford lump Francino Francis.

However in the first half it was Greg Taylor who first earned his crust – a fine header, more or less off the line kept out a shot from Marna (last seen at Kettering). That was more or less their only shot on target apart from Pilks snuffing out a point blank shot from Reece. Poor Reece – he seemed to be less popular with his colleagues than Osano was with his – hardly got a pass all afternoon. I fully expect to hear that he has signed for Coventry tomorrow having been sent there today.

In the first half we dominated without being convincing, we were a bit ring-rusty I thought. However the second half we completely bossed the game, without getting to the point of mercilessly tearing them apart. Apart from the first five minutes that is. I don’t know what it is that Brabs says to them at half time. Knowing that the opposition are going to come out fighting, he seems to underwhelm them into underachievement. Fortunately today, they threw off the shackles of his motivational speech and carried on embracing some decent footie played on the front foot.

Shortly it was 2-0 – JPK won a free kick on the left. He took the freekick and swung across a lovely booming millionaire’s cross to the far post where Kovacs was waiting having jumped up and down like a mad thing trying to get Kissock’s attention and got a free header to double the score. McAllister was already on the touchline ready to come on and the deal was completed with Kissock being replaced. Jake moved into midfield and for the last 25 minutes played alongside Boucaud in front of the back four, with Watkins being the most advanced in the midfield.

Luton kept on pressing coming close on a number of occasions and played bright attacking, entertaining football having gained confidence from the second goal.

The third goal was an interesting one – Howells had started the move playing the ball to Kovacs staying up the pitch, as he had got a taste for this goal scoring lark. He didn’t quite get his head on it, but in effect nodded it on for Fleetwood to pick up on the left. Fleetwood played in a deep cross to the far post where Howells ,tucked around the corner, headed it back in, Kovacs pounced on it but I think it was Francis’ shins that did the deed. Kovacs celebrated as if he’d scored it, but I think it was a little tongue in cheek.

The last ten minutes was all Luton, driving for the fourth – confidence oozing from every pore – it didn’t come. The usual disease of not being able to convert a higher percentage of chances. But there you go. For the record, Willmott came on at the 90 minutes were up for O’Connor who had worked his socks off all afternoon.

Kovacs and Pilks had sound games at the back and completed most of their passes – hey Pilks even played a cross-field ball to O’Connor, who unfortunately didn’t control it and it rolled out. Taylor had an excellent game and nearly got another goal. Most unlike a Luton left-back. Must be something about the surname. Lawless filled in well at right back and had the freedom of the park in the way that Osano had.

Tyler had barely anything to do – I like the way he recycles ball quicker than Kevin Pilkington and looks to throw the ball out when possible.

Even though Tamworth had the first half-chance in the game, I never thought the result was in doubt. I don’t think it was the same Tamworth that battled through to play Everton in the cup or indeed the team that with 10 men got a draw at Fleetwood. Perhaps we didn’t let them play – perhaps we played too well for them – perhaps we are a great side after all!

Good or bad, we had a good solid win today that put me in a good mood. The Hatters are five points clear in third and I think it is something like thirteen games unbeaten in the league. No, it doesn’t look like Fleetwood or Wrexham are going to slip up, but it is a good time to get a bit of form and confidence. Always good to be the form team going into the play offs – hey you never know, we might not need to go to penalties…

 

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