Barrow 0 Luton Town 1
Barrow (0) 0 Luton Town (1) 1
LUTON Town ended a run of four away games without a win thanks to a first-half goal from top scorer Matthew Barnes-Homer, writes Mike Simmonds.
The Hatters forward struck in the 37th minute, arrowing a low drive into the bottom corner from 20 yards to seal an important victory for Richard Money’s side.
Town’s battling victory saw them end a run of four away games with a victory that turned into a great deal more hard work that it should have been.
The visitors were by far the better team in the opening 45 minutes, making their hosts look somewhat ordinary at times, with their easy on the eye passing, as Drury was a menace whenever in possession.
When the ball reached the penalty area though, a cloud of hesitation appeared to engulf them, as neither Danny Crow of Barnes-Homer could repeat their efforts from the midweek victory over Mansfield.
Hatters boss Richard Money made one change, with Drury replacing Amari-Morgan Smith on the left wing, as the new signing dropped to the bench, while Adam Newton picked up an injury during the warm-up and was replaced on the bench by Godfrey Poku.
The visitors settled straight away, as Barnes-Homer’s cross was almost turned into his net by Paul Edwards, while Barrow looked every ounce a team who hadn’t scored in three games and suffered three straight defeats, gifting the ball to Town at most opportunities.
Hatters dominated as Drury fed Crow, but his cut back was side-footed straight at on-loan Leeds goalkeeper Alan Martin by Claude Gnakpa, while Drury’s measured effort gratefully clutched by Martin.
Town had shouts for a penalty on 12 minutes when Gnakpa was hauled back in the area, but after the three misses from the spot on Tuesday, the protests didn’t last too long.
Barrow had their first sight of goal on 15 minutes when Andy Cook’s header was straight at Mark Tyler, but the visiting stopper was a virtual spectator in the first half as Cook also shot well over the bar.
Drury tried his best to break the deadlock, but with time on his side, opted to hook a spectacular curler and it went well wide.
Finally, the Hatters did move ahead on 37 minutes though and it was that man Drury behind it once more. He drove at the home defence, as he had done all half, and broke a number of tackles before feeding Barnes-Homer who, 20 yards out, found the bottom corner.
Barrow tried to hit back instantly, but Neil Wainwright’s low effort was well handled by Tyler, while Gnakpa continued to dominate in the air, heading Drury’s corner over.
The visitors looked for a second before half time, and George Pilkington’s goalbound volley crashed into a defender, while Zdenek Kroca’s flick header was plucked out of the sky by Martin.
Hatters stand-out player Drury was inches away from the second after some dogged work by Jake Howells, his daisycutter was superbly turned past the post by Martin.
Barrow came out charged up after the break and Jason Walker fizzed a volley in that just bent away from Tyler’s goal, before seeing a free kick palmed aside by the keeper.
Town appeared to sit back in the second period, though Barnes-Homer did put a header into the arms of Martin after a good cross from Dan Gleeson.
Barrow were a different team by now though as Cook saw his right-footer veer off target before James Owen was also high and wide from a decent position.
The Bluebirds continued to rattle Luton’s cage as Walker flicked his header on, but from eight yards out, Cook, without a goal in games, sent his volley into orbit.
With Luton under the cosh, Money made two changes, bringing on Morgan-Smith for his away debut, while Poku replaced Gnakpa as the winger wasn’t doing too much in the way of protecting full back Gleeson.
Poku in particular was highly impressive during his brief spell on the pitch, breaking up Barrow attacks and as he grew into the game, showing an eye for a pass too.
Town had another let-off on 70 minutes when Walker escaped the defence but with Tyler rushing out, failed to get the elevation as the keeper tipped his header skywards, and it was too high for Cook to direct his effort on target as Gleeson hacked clear.
As the minutes ticked away, Hatters defence coped with the crosses being pumped into the box with both Murray and Pilkington producing fine clearing headers, while Tyler mopped up anything in his vicinity.
Simon Spender opted to try his luck from distance and it would have been interesting, had captain Paul Jones not been in the way.
The skipper was also involved in the final act too as picked out by Paul Rutherford’s inch-perfect cross, he glanced a header over from a matter of yards out, to the delight of the 228 travelling Hatters fans.
Barrow: Alan Martin, Simon Spender, Paul Edwards, Mike Pearson, Paul Jones ©, Robin Hulbert, Paul Rutherford, James Owen, Jason Walker, Andy Cook (Danny Forrest 78), Neil Wainwright.
Substitutes not used: Shaun Pearson, Phil Bolland, Mark Boyd, Gregg Blundell.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Dan Gleeson, Freddie Murray, Keith Keane, George Pilkington, Matthew Barnes-Homer (Taiwo Atieno 75), Andy Drury, Zdenek Kroca, Jake Howells, Claude Gnakpa (Godfrey Poku 66), Danny Crow (Amari Morgan-Smith 60).
Substitutes not used: Shane Blackett, Kevin Pilkington.
Attendance: 1,416 (228 Luton)
Referee: T Harrington.
Assistant referees: P Thompson and G Freer.
Fourth official: G Liddle.
Bookings: Walker 81, Wainwright 90.
Star Hatter: Andy Drury, showed his undoubted quality.
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