Shaw nets late winner as Hatters fight past Gladiators

Hatters action.
Hatters action.

FA Trophy round two
Matlock Town 1 Luton Town 2

An injury-time goal from Jon Shaw saw Luton edge through to the third round of the FA Trophy after an incredibly scrappy victory over Evo-Stik Northern Premier side Matlock Town this afternoon.

It had looked like Town were going to face another unwanted replay as they were pegged back a ludicrously soft second half penalty, but Shaw’s half volley somehow beat Gladiators keeper Jon Kennedy and was adjudged to have cross the line by the assistant referee in stoppage time.

Hatters boss Paul Buckle once again signalled his intentions in the competition by picking an extremely strong side for the clash, who had won the FA Trophy back in the 1974-75 season.

Three changes were still made from the midweek horror show at Newport as Buckle brought in Dean Brill for Mark Tyler, while Janos Kovacs and Jon Shaw earned starts as Lathaniel Rowe-Turner dropped to the bench, meaning Dean Beckwith missed out entirely.

Hatters had a great chance on four minutes when Ronnie Henry’s low cross was dummied by Scott Rendell, but Andre Gray got the ball completely caught under his feet and could only toe poke at Kennedy.

Out of nothing, Luton had the lead on 17 minutes as Jake Howells’ corner was headed back across goal by Shaw for Simon Ainge to arch his back and powerfully nod past Kennedy.

Confidence boosted, Shaw shanked well wide before O’Donnell’s low drive was well collected by the keeper.

A wayward effort from Lewis McMahon drew applause from the home faithful, but Town’s obvious extra quality was shown again as Gray fed Henry and his cross, which are fast becoming a feature of Luton’s play, was headed wide by Shaw.

Hatters somehow didn’t double their advantage on 29 minutes when Howells burst forward and cut back for Gray.

The striker’s fierce low drive slipped from Kennedy’s grasp, before Phil Roe hammered his clearance against the diving Rendell, but despite being a yard out, it flew behind.

Lawless then beat two defenders on a penetrating run, only to tamely scuff at Kennedy as the defence parted.

Town removed Gray shortly afterwards as he appeared to have picked up a slight injury, with Stuart Fleetwood coming on.

After the break, an incisive move saw Howells drive over, before the hosts were on level terms after 62 minutes due to an highly dubious decision.

A good move saw the Gladiators with men over and Phil Roe went to ground far too easily after being lent on by Ainge, but referee P Bankes took the bait and awarded a spotkick.

Lewis McMahon stepped up to confidently rifle past Brill, before Hatters almost retook the lead instantly when Fleetwood took aim from over 30 yards away, only to see his glorious effort clip the top of the bar.

O’Donnell then saw his shot deflected into Kennedy’s arms, while the keeper easily caught Kovacs’ head.

The Gladiators’ stopper produced an even better stop on 76 minutes as Howells and Shaw combined, with the former’s low blast smartly parried away.

Shaw then came close when he headed another fine Henry cross goalwards, but it was blocked inches from the line.

Somehow Luton weren’t in front with time running out as Howells’ corner was met by Kovacs, but cannoned off the post and into the grateful arms of Kennedy.

Matlock’s luck finally ran out in injury though as the ball was headed out only as far as Shaw, and his dipping volley was ruled to have crossed the line via a combination of Kennedy’s fingertips and the woodwork.

Matlock: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Phil Roe, Martin Foster, Adam Yates, James Lukic ©, Bradley Grayson (Jacob Hazel 46), James Ashmore, Glyn Cotton, Lewis McMahon, Gareth Davies (Lee Ellington 78).

Subs not used: Joe Leesley, Laurence Gaughan, Nick Buxton.

Hatters: Dean Brill, Janos Kovacs, Alex Lawless, Jon Shaw, Scott Rendell, Jake Howells, Simon Ainge, Arnaud Mendy, JJ O’Donnell (Lathaniel Rowe-Turner 90), Ronnie Henry ©, Andre Gray (Stuart Fleetwood 36).

Subs not used: Alex Lacey, James Dance, Matt Robinson.

Referee: P Bankes.

Assistant referees: S Swallow, J Simpson.

Fourth official: N Barnard-Warrington.

Bookings: Hazel 90.

Hatters MOM: Janos Kovacs.

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