Hatters crush Rovers to lift the title

Andre Gray celebrates scoring from the penalty spot
Andre Gray celebrates scoring from the penalty spot

Skrill Premier: Luton Town 4 Forest Green Rovers 1

Andre Gray scored his 30th goal of the season as Skrill Premier champions Luton Town rounded off their home campaign in fine style by beating Forest Green Rovers.

After trailing Yan Klukowski’s early penalty, Gray levelled the scores with a spotkick of his own, before heading his side’s third after the break to reach the landmark.

Town boss John Still made just one change to the side that had won at Welling, as the longest serving player Jake Howells replaced Alex Wall to make his 275th appearance for the club.

Visitors Rovers had former Luton striker Jason Walker in their starting line-up and his every touch was booed, before being put out of misery in the second half, as he walked straight down the tunnel.

In front of a magnificent see of orange, Hatters were the first to threaten as Gray’s low blast was narrowly wide of Sam Russell’s goal.

Rovers’ vastly experienced striker Luke Rodgers sent an ambitious effort over the bar, while the former Shrewsbury and New York Red Bulls frontman impressed throughout.

He came close again, beating the offside trap to win a corner against Tyler and from the set-piece, glanced a header narrowly over.

Despite the capacity crowd, the atmosphere was surprisingly quiet, with the the game having the feel of a pre-season friendly at times as James Norwood sent a long ranger at Tyler.

A lovely sliderule pass by Matt Robinson sent Howells away on 22 minutes and his cross was just cleared away by Eddie Oshodi as Gray waited to pounce, Howells hammering the rebound miles wide.

The visitors were then awarded a penalty in highly contentious circumstances as a long range blast was blocked by Steve McNulty, but referee Dean Treleaven spotted a handball, whistling for a penalty.

Former Hatters target Klukowski then stepped up to just about beat Tyler from the spot, with the Town keeper almost making the save.

Town just couldn’t get themselves going at all, and won a corner after a calamity of errors from the visiting defence, but Fraser Franks nodded over.

Howells was just crowded out after a lung-busting run, while Cameron McGeehan’s fierce effort drew a fine block by the stretching beanpole centre-half Luke Oliver.

Tyler showed good hands to gather Rodgers low drive, before Hatters won a penalty moments before the break as Gray advanced into the box and was brought down by Russell.

With his eyes firmly on the golden boot prize, Gray took the honours despite regular taker Howells being on the pitch, and calmly found the top corner to make it 1-1.

The action improved almost immediately after the break as more bright play from Rodgers saw him almost tee up Walker, before Rogers again tested Tyler.

As he had on Saturday, Still then swapped McNulty, who received a standing ovation for Alex Lacey and Town almost had a second when Robinson’s shot was blocked for a corner.

Mark Cullen sent a fizzing effort wide, while Tyler was forced into a sprawling low stop from Barry’s deflected potshot and then Robinson rather selfishly tred his luck from 25 yards with players on either side.

Luton’s greater tempo was rewarded on 55 minute though when Cullen won the ball back and McGeehan drove forward.

His first shot was parried by Russell, but the on-loan Norwich man was first to the rebound and although Russell got a hand to it, there was just enough power to dribble over the line.

Two soon became three as Gray made it 30 for the season, although it owed to some great work by Cullen.

The striker did fantastically on the flank and stood up a looping cross that Gray saw hang in the air and angle a header into the corner.

Town’s leading marksman was then immediately replaced by Wall to an magnificent ovation from the home faithful as they set about enjoying the final 20 minutes.

Rodgers still posed a threat upfront, sending a header into Tyler’s gloves, while he had the ball in the net soon afterwards, only to see the goal ruled out for what was deemed a deliberate handball as he picked up an incredibly harsh booking.

Wall’s deflected low drive kicked up off the surface and produced a decent tip over by a grounded Russell.

The icing was then well and truly placed on the cake with virtually the last kick as Cullen skirted along the by-line unchallenged and fired low into the corner of the net.

A few 100 or so supporters invaded the pitch on the full time whistle, but they were quickly dispersed as Town came out to lift the Skrill Premier trophy in front of their adoring followers.

One by one the players were introduced to the baying public as Henry hoisted the silverware into the sky and finally end five years of hurt.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Ronnie Henry, Scott Griffiths, Steve McNulty (Alex Lacey 48), Fraser Franks, Cameron McGeehan, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Matt Robinson, Jake Howells (Jon Shaw 73), Mark Cullen, Andre Gray (Alex Wall 60).

Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Andy Parry,

Rovers: Sam Russell, Jared Hodgkiss, James Norwood, Yan Klukowski, Matt Taylor, Eddie Oshodi, Jason Walker (Daniel Martin 66), Luke Oliver, Paul Green, Anthony Barry (C), Luke Rodgers (Danny Wright 85).

Subs not used: Paul White, Lee Hughes.

Booked: Sam Russell 44, Eddie Oshodi 71, Luke Rodgers 72, James Norwood 75.

Referee: Dean Treleaven.

Attendance: 10,044 (114 away).

MOM: Cameron McGeehan.