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Luton Town 4-2 Kingstonian

K's travelled to Bedfordshire for this first round FA Cup game along with their biggest following since Wembley all those months ago, but in the end came away empty handed against a team unbeaten at home this season. The only change from last week's successful eleven was the inclusion of Danny Smith - a very very good footballer - for the suspended Gary Patterson.

The underdogs certainly started the brighter of the two teams, on a pitch which, we were informed, is bigger than Wembley, and as we saw, was soaking wet due to the spraying which took place right up until the teams came out. Maybe this was the reason that Steve Farrelly came out early on to intercept a cross, slipped slightly, and flattened Derek Allan.

Allan though, picked himself up and was on hand a moment later to block a Stuart Douglas shot from ten yards. But he could do nothing when, on eleven minutes, Luton took the lead. A right wing cross was met by Tarkan Mustafa and Matthew Taylor and the K's wing back just got his head to the ball before Taylor got his foot to Mustafa's head. No foul was given, Luton had a corner and, after a mix-up between defenders, Phil Gray thighed home.

K's were certainly then on the back foot. Allan played a poor pass out which was taken by Gray. His shot was just over but he must have then been delighted to see Mustafa, Allan and Pitcher having a good old fashioned barny in the middle of the pitch. Gray almost got a second just afterwards when he met a cross from the left with a shot which Farrelly did well to turn over. Mustafa must have been relieved to see the save as he was, once again, at least 50 yards out of position when the cross came from his area of the pitch.

Farrelly saved K's just after this as well. The first corner for the visitors had been badly wasted and Luton set off on the attack. Douglas played in Liam George on the left and Farrelly closed down the attacker to grab the ball to his chest. Yet K's were still in the game. Stuart Fraser didn't have the best of days - Phil Wingfield managed to injure him by kicking the ball into his mid-riff, after which somebody else stood on his leg. With blood visible, Fraser was led down the tunnel to leave Luton with ten men.

This time it was Danny Smith who rifled in a very very good shot, which deflected away for a corner. Wingfield took it, goalkeeper Abbey flapped, Marshall turned it back in and Matt Crossley volleyed home. It was a scrappy goal, but absolutely vital that K's got back into the game before half time. And it almost got better, when an attempted tackle on Pitcher saw the ball loop up and over Abbey, but also just over the bar.

Danny Smith - in Gary Patterson's number seven shirt - was determined to follow in his mentor's footsteps. First he performed a very very good foul on McIndoe but the referee allowed play to continue. So he stuck his hand out to stop this, and quite rightly received a very very yellow card. Then, just before the break, Luton thought that they had gone back in front. A long shot clipped Colin Luckett's heel, Farrelly was slightly deceived and so could only palm the ball back into play where George turned the ball in. But the linesman was standing with flag aloft and K's could breathe again.

But then, just two minutes after the break, an amazing thing happened. A cross from the right was easily claimed by Farrelly, his long punt downfield bounced once, Leworthy ran past the defender and, with just one touch, clipped the ball over Abbey. Whilst everyone in a hooped shirt watched the ball go slowly over the line, Leworthy was already at the side of the pitch celebrating putting K's in front, and putting K's fans into dreamland. Now all they had to do was hold out for the next 43 minutes.....

This was certainly K's best spell of the game, and it's easy to say that another goal at this time might well have killed Luton off. Yet it didn't happen. Instead Luton began to come back into the game. Their defence might have been slightly suspect, but their forwards were a joy to watch. Unless you were a K's defender that is. McLaren shot over and Crossley made another last ditch tackle to stop Spring.

It was then strange that, when the equaliser came, it was something of a scrappy affair. A ball down the right hit Douglas on the back of the head, and bounced into George's path. His low shot gave Farrelly no chance and the dreams began to fade. But Farrelly managed to keep them alive for a little while longer with a quite superb display. Firstly he saved from Spring after a one-two on the left, and then from George after he was played through by Spring.

But the big scouser could do nothing to stop Luton's third. Before it happened K's were still in with a shout, but when a goal such as this is scored on such an occasion, it clearly is not destined to be your day. Spring picked up the ball on the half-way line, touched the ball forward a couple of times, then unleashed a shot from fully thirty yards. From our view behind Luton's goal, it must be one of the sweetest strikes that has been seen at Kenilworth Road. The ball flew into the top corner giving Farrelly absolutely no chance.

Just three minutes later, any thoughts of a fight-back were extinguished when Taylor scored the fourth. The shot was from the edge of the area, and this time placed in the bottom-left corner. Farrelly, after producing such a good display, must be gutted to have been beaten four times, but the last two were almost unstoppable.

There was still time for Leworthy to waste a golden opportunity when he skied a cross from Wingfield, but had K's then gone on to equalise it would have been a bit rough on Luton. K's played well against a fairly good team but lost. The reason? Luton were better on the day - plain and simple. None of this "plucky non-leaguers" stuff here - K's weren't outclassed by a superior outfit, they just lost. So that's that for another year.

Sat 30th Oct 1999
FA Cup 1st round
Luton Town4
Crossley, Leworthy
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Matt Crossley
5Mark Harris
6Derek Allan
7Danny SmithCautioned12
8Geoff PitcherCautioned
9Dwight Marshall
10David Leworthy
11Phil Wingfield
12Junior Kadi7
13Richard Hurst
14Simon Stewart
15Luke Basford
16David Eatock
Man of the Match
Matt Crossley
Matt Crossley
Match Report By
Gary Ekins