Town suffer further home discomfort

Hatters held by Barrow

Blue Square Bet Premier

Luton Town 0 (0) Barrow 0 (0)

A NEW era under Gary Brabin was ushered in at Kenilworth Road last night, but it failed to offer too many clues as to how it will be different to that under previous boss Richard Money, writes Mark Wood.

There were some nice flicks and glimpses of quality but Town failed to impress against a struggling Barrow side who were always a match throughout.

Town made three changes to the side that played so badly struggling Southport on Saturday.

In came fit-again duo Freddie Murray and Robbie Willmott plus striker Danny Crow, with Lloyd Owusu, Claude Gnakpa and Luke Graham dropping to the bench.

Wayne Curtis warmed Mark Tyler’s hands in the second minute and had a shot deflected behind soon after.

In-between predictably there was a shout of ‘same old Luton’ when a Matthew Barnes-Homer pass went awry while there were cheers and a chorus of ‘we left two players up’ when Town showed more attacking intent when defending a corner than they did under Money.

A great punt down the middle by Tyler almost put Willmott away on eight minutes but he was just beaten to the ball by Paul Edwards.

A sublime touch from Crow saw him spear a shot wide on 12 minutes before Luton almost took the lead after a brilliant move six minute later.

Jake Howells’ clever pass picked out the overlapping Murray and Crow’s near-post toe-poke was instinctively turned round the post by Clark Masters.

More clever moves saw Howells skew wide and Crow fail to control a good through ball as Town showed promise but failed to dominate.

Hatters looked both tentative yet harried and a terrible Keith Keane error let Wayne Curtis in on 34 minutes, who teed up Paul Smith who was denied by a flying stop from Tyler.

At the other end Keane’s ball was beautifully flicked into the path of Crow by Barnes-Homer but the striker could only sweep over.

Crow then picked up an error by 42-year-old joint player/manager Darren Sheridan, but Willmott could only balloon over.

Barnes-Homer flashed wide on 42 minutes and some lovely link-up play between Barnes-Homer and Crow released Willmott but his first-time stab came off the chest of the sprawling Masters.

Louis Almond’s cross raced across the face of goal in stoppage time, but there was nothing to separate the sides at the break.

Howells unfortunately got in the way of some great inter-play between Crow and Barnes-Homer five minutes in before George Pilkington had a header ruled out two minutes later when Zdenek Kroca was adjudged to have pushed his man when heading Keane’s free-kick back across goal.

Edwards left Willmott writhing in agony from a lunging tackle but was only booked and Sheridan followed him into the notepad for dissent.

Paul Carden lofted a tame effort over the bar on 55 minutes before Almond went nuts and was also booked for not returning the ball.

Some trickery from Murray saw him chip a lovely cross into Crow but he could only direct his header straight at Masters.

Murray saw yellow for a poor challenge on Sam Spender and some nonsensical defending almost handed the Bluebirds the lead on 63 minutes. Tyler’s short goal kick put Pilkington in all sorts of trouble and as he was robbed by Paul Rutherford, Curtis was fortuitously flagged offside.

Howells failed to connect properly after the ball was laid into his path by Barnes-Homer and Keane’s ball over the top almost put in Willmott on 81 minutes, while Crow lobbed the loose ball miles off target.

A dangerous Gnakpa cross failed to find a taker and after Masters had spilled a raking Keane’s free-kick Mike Pearson was on hand to hack Barnes-Homer’s drive off the line.

Barnes-Homer had a late blast blocked out by Edwards and Smith fired well over as some resigned boos rang out at the final whistle.

Hatters (4-4-2): Mark Tyler, Freddie Murray, Keith Keane, George Pilkington (C), Adam Newton, Matthew Barnes-Homer, Robbie Willmott, Zdenek Kroca, Jake Howells, Paul Carden (Claude Gnakpa 70), Danny Crow. Substitutes not used: Luke Graham, Amari Morgan-Smith, Kevin Pilkington, Lloyd Owusu.

Attendance: 5,528 (Barrow 41).

Star Hatter: Robbie Willmott.

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