Sizzling Hatters hit back to defeat Cambridge

Blue Square Bet Premier

A scintillating second half display from Hatters saw them confidently dispatch Cambridge United at Kenilworth this evening, writes Mike Simmonds.

Town had been slow starters after the break in recent matches, but this time they produced a super-charged salvo, with Andre Gray and Dean Beckwith netting in quick succession to make it three straight wins.

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Hatters had kept the same starting line-up that defeated Macclesfield 4-1, but altered the formation, returning to a traditional 4-4-2.

There was no goal inside 60 seconds for Jake Howells on this occasion, although the Welsh U21 international went closest on five minutes, driving forward after the referee played a good advantage, but dragged wide.

A bolt completely out of the blue put United ahead on 12 minutes though as when a corner wasn’t properly cleared, Ricky Wellard took aim and blasted an unstoppable drive past Mark Tyler and into the top corner.

Town were behind for less than five minutes though as a corner from Stuart Fleetwood was flicked on and met by a diving Janos Kovacs, who thundered his header into the net.

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The equaliser brought both the home fans and players alive as Hatters cranked up the tempo, with Andre Gray’s magnificent cross deflected over, while Fleetwood’s corner had to be headed clear from under the visitors bar.

Fleetwood was looking Luton’s best outlet on the left flank in the first half, and after intelligently using the overlapping Rowe-Turner, his shot was straight at Jonathan Hedges.

Town stepped through the gears after the restart though as Rendell was a whisker away from another dangerous Gray cross, before the pair almost combined again as this time Gray couldn’t quite turn in Rendell’s delivery.

Hatters’ fine start was rewarded in some style too as O’Donnell seized on a loose ball, slid Gray in, and the jet-heeled striker outpaced the defence with ease before confidently sweeping his shot under Hedges.

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The game’s crucial moment came on the hour as Tom Elliott’s sublime outside of the foot finish was ruled out for offside allowing Hatters to go straight up the other end to and rubber stamp their advantage.

Gray’s shot was deflected for a corner and from Fleetwood’s set-piece, the ball rebounded around until Dean Beckwith took control, curling in a close-range finish for his first goal of the campaign, as Kenilworth Road erupted.

Gray was continually causing mayhem, getting in behind the defence all evening, as he had another effort blocked, before unleashing a sizzling drive that tested the reflexes of Hedge.

Former Town winger Robbie Willmott was withdrawn on 75 minutes, but his side almost found a way back into the match as Rowe-Turner threw himself in front another ex-Luton man, Rossi Jarvis’ blast.

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The visitors did throw themselves a lifeline with two minutes left as James Jennings’ corner was thumped home by the head of Rory McAuley.

Hatters weren’t to be denied and picked up a thoroughly deserved victory on what was a fantastic night’s entertainment.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Greg Taylor, Dean Beckwith, Janos Kovacs, Alex Lawless, Scott Rendell (Connor Essam 86), Jake Howells, Stuart Fleetwood (Jake Woolley 90), JJ O’Donnell, Andre Gray.

Subs not used: Adam Watkins, Yaser Kasim, Dean Brill.

United: Jonathan Hedges, James Jenning. Josh Coulson, Michael Wylde, Ricky Wellard, Tom Elliott, Rory McAuley, Liam Hughes, Luke Berry (Adriano Moke 63), Robbie Willmott (Billy Gibson 75).

Subs not used: Tom Shaw, Scott Garner, Sam Smith.

Referee: W Barratt.

Assistant referees: S Brown, M D’Aguliar.

Fourth official: S Leaf.

Bookings: Taylor 38, Kovacs 64.

Attendance: 6,592 (622 away).

Hatters MOM: Andre Gray.

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For all the latest Luton Town FC news, reports, stats, player profiles, live match updates, MOM poll, prediction table and a complete fixture list, visit our Hatters Microsite.

For all the latest Luton Town FC news, reports, stats, player profiles, live match updates, MOM poll, prediction table and a complete fixture list, visit our Hatters Microsite.