Hatters too strong for Cobblers

A great Mark Cullen header and ferocious late drive from Shaun Whalley earned Luton Town a 2-1 development match win over Northampton Town at Kenilworth Road this afternoon, writes Mark Wood.

Anthony Charles clears the danger for Luton this afternoon
Anthony Charles clears the danger for Luton this afternoon

Livewire winger Whalley was Town’s standout performer as he created the first and scored the second, but he also had to serve a ‘sin-binning’ after getting on the wrong side of the referee in the first third.

The Cobblers started brightly, curling a free-kick into Elliot Justham’s midriff before Luton took the lead with a straightforward goal on seven minutes as Whalley’s pinpoint cross picked out Cullen whose deft header dipped over the stranded keeper.

Anthony Charles produced a good block on 13 minutes, while Whalley’s cross well was flicked away with Cullen lurking.

Whalley though clashed with a Northampton player midway through the half and was replaced by JJ O’Donnell.

David Martin proceeded to flash a header just wide from the trialist right-back’s cross and Cullen was then desperately unlucky to see his long range curler catch the top of the stanchion on 27 minutes.

The Cobblers levelled after half an hour though when a JJ Hooper’s back post cross was met with a firm header from Ishmel Demontagnacthat that gave Justham no chance.

Solomon Taiwo then fired a free-kick well over as the first third drew to a close.

Whalley returned for the second period and Martin went close just two minutes in as his drive from the edge of the area whizzed just wide.

Whalley then broke clear down the right and was on the end of a hefty foul from the same Northampton player he fell out with earlier.

Town should have retaken the lead on 38 minutes when Martin’s cross ran for Whalley but he fired wastefully over

The visitors almost had a second on 42 minutes when a defender sent his header straight at Justham, while at the other end Jim Stevenson chased a lost cause with the keeper looking like he had picked the ball up outside his area only for the officials to deem it had run out.

Lovely skills from David Viana then released Martin on 50 minutes and his cross was headed right at the keeper by Cullen.

Moments later Whalley broke down the right and his fierce drive from a narrow angle forced a good save.

O’Donnell, Matthew Robinson and Zane Banton were all introduced at the start of the last third for Taiwo, Martin and Viana and it was Banton’s ball that released Whalley two minutes in but he fired wide.

A half-cleared corner saw O’Donnell’s low drive well saved before his inswinging corner was palmed off the line by the keeper.

The game then lulled before Town retook the lead with a cracker on 77 minutes.

Whalley was afforded space on the edge of the area and his tasty left-foot strike gave the keeper no chance as it nestled in the bottom left-hand corner.

Hatters: Elliot Justham, Trialist, Trialist, Anthony Charles, Trialist (Trialist), Shaun Whalley (JJ O’Donnell 23-31), Solomon Taiwo (Matthew Robinson 61), Jim Stevenson, David Martin (JJ O’Donnell 61), David Viana (Zane Banton 61), Mark Cullen.

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