It’s the Wright stuff as Hatters earn rare Grimsby win

Blue Square Bet Premier

Grimsby Town 0 Luton Town 1

STRIKER Tommy Wright’s first goal for the club was enough to earn Hatters a welcome three points in their clash with Grimsby Town tonight, writes Mike Simmonds.

The former Mariners frontman pounced to head the winner on 73 minutes from a yard out after Stuart Fleetwood had teed him up, earning Luton their first win at Blundell Park since 1998.

It was no more than Town deserved either as they always looked to have the better quality on the night against a workmanlike home side, with Adam Watkins in particular pulling the strings in midfield and Janos Kovacs immense at the back.

Before the match, Hatters boss Gary Brabin had spoke about winning uglyand Town certainly did that thanks to their second half strike.

The manager made three changes to his side with Keith Keane absent due to a knock, while Aaron O’Connor dropped to the bench and Shane Blackett missed out.

In came Wright for his full debut, partnering Fleetwood upfront in a 4-4-2 formation, while the recalled duo of Adam Watkins and Jamie Hand were in midfield, while Jake Howells moved to left back.

Town settled the quicker and James Dance enjoyed plenty of the ball on the right flank, with Fleetwood having his close range shot parried by James McKeown.

Kovacs also tested the keeper with a header from a corner, but Grimsby forced the first real save as top scorer Liam Hearn beat Curtis Osano when he had no right to and unleashed a low drive that Mark Tyler did splendidly to turn away.

With 22 minutes on the clock. Watkins went in the book for a mistimed challenged right on the edge of the area, but Michael Coulson’s drive was blocked by the Town wall.

The bright opening rather petered out as the half progressed, but Watkins continued to stand out, spraying the ball around intelligently and having a fierce half volley blocked.

Luton then fashioned another chance on 36 minutes when Fleetwood turned his defender in the box and his low effort drew an excellent reaction save from McKeown.

A good ball wide by Osano then saw Dance break down the right and after outpacing Bradley Wood, his low cross was diverted the wrong side of the post by a stretching Wright.

With the half almost at an end, Hatters piled on the pressure as Watkins cut on to his left and saw a left footer deflect inches wide.

In the second period, Coulson sent a bouncing effort into the palms of Tyler, while Robbie Willmott’s free kick never looked like testing McKeown.

Coulson then went on a storming run through the middle of the field, shaking off a desperate challenge from Hand, only to place his outside of the boot effort straight down Tyler’s throat.

The impressive Watkins sent a long-range drive over, while Hearn cut into the penalty area and almost opened the scoring with a low drive, but Tyler again saved well, deflecting the ball behind for a corner.

Town came close too on 67 minutes when Osano charged down the right wing and with Hatters finally producing a decent delivery, Fleetwood headed tamely over from a good position.

The visitors finally broke the deadlock on 73 minutes though as Hand’s chipped ball found Fleetwood and his cross was powerfully headed home from close range by Wright.

Eagle tried to respond immediately but Tyler flipped his curling free kick over the bar, while with time running out, the keeper blocked Coulson’s fierce dead ball strike too.

Although Grimsby huffed and puffed for an equaliser, they never seriously threatened breaching Town’s solid defence, with substitutes John Paul Kissock and Danny Crow combining well to run down the clock as Hatters, for the evening at least, jumped back to third in the table.

Grimsby: James McKeown, Gary Silk, Anthony Church (Damien Spencer 87), Darran Kempston, Michael Coulson, Craig Disley, Liam Hearn, Serge Makofo (Rob Eagle 57), Bradley Wood, Charlie l’Anson, Anthony Elding (Rob Duffy 66).

Subs not used: Frankie Artus, Shaun Pearson.

Luton Town: Mark Tyler, George Pilkington, Robbie Willmott (John Paul Kissock 78), Stuart Fleetwood (Danny Crow 86), Jake Howells, Curtis Osano, James Dance (Aaron O’Connor 66), Jamie Hand, Adam Watkins, Janos Kovacs, Tommy Wright.

Subs not used: Dean Beckwith, Kevin Pilkington.

Referee: S Stockbridge.

Assistant referees: G Liddle, W Broadbent.

Fourth official: A Fearn.

Booked: Watkins 22, Wood 34, Osano 83, Church 86, Pilkington 89.

Attendance: 3,230 (186 Hatters).

Star Hatter: Adam Watkins, Pulled the strings in midfield.