This week I travelled to Luton Town as they played fellow play-off contenders AFC Wimbledon, at Kenilworth Road. The game was very entertaining, end to end at times. I was particularly impressed with the atmosphere at the ground and the attendance of 7, 736 which you would normally achieve in a league game, gives credit to the profile of the Conference these days.
Luton Town 1-2 AFC Wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon hopes of promotion were lifted as they beat play-off rivals Luton Town at Kenilworth Road. In a match that Luton dominated for large parts, it was AFC who snatched the points as Danny Kedwell scored the winner, to lift AFC to 6th in the table.
Luton started the game on the front foot and could have gone in front within two minutes. Fred Murray found space down the left and his cross found Rossi Jarvis, but his goalward header hit the top of the crossbar. The visitors came into the game soon after with Nathan Elder and then Danny Kedwell both having half chances but neither threatened to test Tyler in the Luton goal.
On 15 minutes Luton nearly went in front. Craddock was fouled on the edge of the area and from the resulting free-kick, Gallen saw his drilled shot well saved by AFC keeper Pullen who managed to tip the ball round his near post. Then just 3 minutes later Jarvis also had a great chance to put Luton ahead but he hit his shot into the ground when he should of scored.
Although Luton dominated for most of the first half, it was AFC who surprisingly went ahead just before the half hour mark. Will Hendry’s right wing cross was met by on loan striker Nathan Elder, who from 3 yards out, saw his shot trickle over the line, despite the best efforts of Luton Keeper Tyler . However within 40 seconds, Luton pulled level. Kevin Nicholl’s shot found its way to Craddock and he gave keeper Pullen no chance, slotting the ball home.
The rest of the first half saw the game flow from end to end but it was AFC Wimbledon who had the best chance to pull ahead just before half time. Danny Kedwell fed the ball to Steven Gregory, who crossed for Elder, but his header hit the side netting and both teams went in at half time level.
After the break, Luton continued to dominate but failed to convert their chances. Asa Hall first fired over before heading over from 3 yards, after a cross by Nicholl’s on the right. This would come back to haunt Luton as on 63 minutes, AFC Wimbledon were in front. Kedwell collected the ball on the left, raced into the area, beat Luton defender Kovacs and unleashed a shot from a tight angle which cannoned off the post into the top right of the net, sending the travelling fans wild.
This proved to be the winning goal and although Luton should have been level 5 minutes from time when Adam Newton shot wide when clean through, AFC Wimbledon held on and sealed a vital, winning by a 2-1 scoreline.
Luton Town: Tyler, Newton, Kovacs, George Pilkington, Murray, Keane, Nicholls (Barnes-Homer 61), Craddock, Hall (Hatch 76), Jarvis (Howells 87), Gallen.
Subs Not Used: Gore, Blackett.
AFC Wimbledon: Pullen, Hatton, Judge, Lorraine, Blanchett, Taylor, Gregory, Hendry (Conroy 80), Poole, Kedwell, Elder (Wellard 75).
Subs Not Used: Brown, Main, Duncan.
Man of the match- Keith Keane (Luton Town)
The central midfielder was unlucky to be on the losing side today after his impressive performance. He was at the heart of everything Luton created in the game. He never gave up and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in and fight for every ball.
Fair play to the AFC Wimbledon. They came with a game plan and it worked. Although they were on the back- foot for most of the game, they still came away with the win which would have delighted the travelling support. Luton deserved at least a point today and will be disappointed they weren’t able to convert possession into goals. Even the fans knew they should have won today and showed their frustration by booing at the end of the game.