Crow at the double to silence Lambs

Blue Square Bet Premier

Tamworth 1 Luton Town 3

TWO goals from Danny Crow saw Luton Town to a comfortable victory at nine man Tamworth this afternoon, writes Mike Simmonds.

Crow struck either side of half time as Hatters climbed back into the top five to kick off their festive campaign with a welcome three points.

Town boss Gary Brabin made seven changes from the side that beat Swindon Supermarine with Kevin Pilkington, George Pilkington, Alex Lawless, Danny Crow, Jake Howells, James Dance and Janos Kovacs coming back into the side.

Jamie Hand missed out after his loan spell expired, while Luton had plenty of options on a bench containing John Paul Kissock, Robbie Willmott and Stuart Fleetwood, who would walk into most sides in the division.

Hatters made a competent start, trying to get the ball wide to winger James Dance at every opportunity, and the recalled midfielder had the first chance of note, half volleying wide.

Town had huge shouts for a penalty on 13 minutes when Howells cross wasn’t properly cleared and Crow’s close range blast was blocked at full stretch by defender Patrick Kanyuka.

The striker was adamant the defender had use his arm, but referee R Joyce waved the appeals away.

His next decision had the home fans up in arms though when Lambs skipper Paul Green was dismissed for an over the top challenge on Dan Gleeson after both players slid in to win possession.

Kanyuka took umbrage to the red card and had to be restrained by his team-mates, but after matters calmed down, Gleeson was able to continue, getting harshly booed in almost pantomime like style, whenever he touched the ball.

Kanyuka almost had a say at the other end, heading a corner over the bar from close range, while the lively Crow shanked wide after finding some space in the Lambs box.

Town fluffed another chance when Lawless’ intelligent pass found Greg Taylor and he scuffed past the post before Dance’s deflected cross was dropping in only for the covering Kanyuka to head away from his own goalline.

Hatters continued to press as some clever passing released Dance and his fierce drive was athletically tipped over by Jonathon Hedge.

Hedge came to the Lambs rescue once more, parrying Howells’ instinctive effort behind but from the corner Town were ahead when Kovacs headed the ball goalwards and Crow hooked in his sixth goal of the season with a clever overhead volley.

The strike was no more than Hatters deserved though and they could have gone into the break 2-0 up when Gleeson and Lawless combined, but Dance’s sliderule cross was skied over by Watkins.

With Hatters recent record of frittering away leads in the second half, boss Brabin would have been praying for a bright start and they got that with just six minutes gone as the Lambs defence made a mess of clearing their lines.

Dance charged down a clearance and the ball fell to Crow, who with his confidence now clearly on on a high, struck his first time shot past Hedge.

Kyle Patterson’s header was pushed over the bar by Pilkington only for the third to arrive on 56 minutes as Lawless clipped to Howells, who timed his run to perfection.

The Welsh U21 international played a delightful through ball Dance and he took a touch before burying his left footed shot into the net.

The goalscorer was booked for his celebrations as was Gleeson moments later, while Hatters were now full of verve with the game turning into a training exercise of attack versus defence.

Taylor’s driven cross was palmed away by Hedge as all Tamworth could muster was a Richard Tait effort that dribbled wide.

Crow had the perfect chance for his hat-trick on 75 minutes when Keith Keane burst into the box and was brought down by Kanyuka, with the referee pointing to the spot and sending off the defender in the process.

Crow stepped up, but his weak penalty lacked power and was turned behind by Hedge, while the striker blasted well over when the resulting corner fell kindly to him.

Tamworth pulled a scarcely deserved goal back on 76 as substitute Danny Mills volleyed goalwards and the ball took a huge deflection off George Pilkington, to wrongfoot Kevin Pilkington and cross the line.

Hatters tried to reassert their authority once more as Taylor’s blast was parried by Hedge, while the visitors then worked a three on one situation as Kissock fed Howells, but he could only fire into Hedge’s midriff.

Fletwood replaced Crow with five minutes remaining and tested Hedge, as Dance’s rebound was well blocked by the covering defence.

Willed on by 622 away fans, Town were more than happy to play keepball in the closing stages, as they eased to a more than comfortable victory.

Tamworth: Jonathan Hedge, Richard Tait, Sam Habergham, Duane Courtney, Francino Francis, Keiron St Aimie (Danny Mills 68), Danny Thomas (Callum Reynolds 46), Kyle Patterson (Iyseden Christie 68), Paul Green, Scott Barrow, Patrick Kanyuka.

Subs not used: Liam McDonald, Nabil Shariff.

Hatters: Kevin Pilkington, Dan Gleeson, Greg Taylor, Keith Keane, George Pilkington, Alex Lawless, Danny Crow (Stuart Fleetwood 84), Jake Howells, James Dance (Tommy Wright 90), Adam Watkins (John Paul Kissock 78), Janos Kovacs.

Subs not used: Mark Tyler, Robbie Willmott.

Referee: R Joyce.

Assistant referees: A Pashley, I Watson.

Fourth official: S Garratt.

Bookings: Crow 34, Dance 57, Gleeson 59.

Sent off: Green 17, Kanyuka 76.

Attendance: 1,467 (622 Luton).

Star Hatter: Danny Crow. Have Luton found the prolific striker they’ve been crying out for?

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