Luton Town 2-1 Gateshead

16/08/2009
Gateshead came of age in the Blue Square Premier in front of a near 7,000 crowd at Kenilworth Road with a tremendous display that ultimately brought no reward.

Former first division club Luton Town were relieved to hear the final whistle where they were booed by a section of their fans despite winning the game and going top of the league!


That said everything about Gateshead's performance, one full of good football and attacking intent that had Luton on the back foot for significant periods of the game.

The Hatters were without a number of players due to suspension and injury and were playing a different back four for the third time in as many games this season.

But they are a club with a large full time squad who would still be in the Football League had they not been docked a massive 30 points last season.

They also took 40,000 fans to Wembley where they beat now Championship side Scunthorpe United in a thrilling Johnstone Paints Trophy final.

For Gateshead to go to Kenilworth Road and play so well, in the first ever meeting between the two clubs, when Luton were tipped to win comfortably was a feather in the cap for manager Ian Bogie and his men.

Unfortunately the display did not get the reward it merited and the Tynesiders will be looking to get their first points on the board at home to Tamworth on Tuesday.

"It was a tremendous performance at Kenilworth Road," said Bogie "we imposed ourselves on the game and rose to the occasion in front of a big crowd.

"Unfortunately we couldn't get the second goal we needed after Michael Mackay struck early on, and then paid the price for more defensive errors.

"A crazy minute turned the game and we have to be more ruthless in both boxes, but we had big spells of pressure and certainly didn't deserve to lose the game.

"We played some excellent football and Luton were hanging on and winding down the clock near the end which says it all.

"They are a good side which I expect to be promoted, but we've now played two of the top sides and more than matched them.

"It was a very open game at Luton. We gave it a real go and, despite the result, can take a lot of confidence and belief from this game."

There was hardly a weak link in the Gateshead side with full backs Craig Baxter and Mark Robinson impressive and James Curtis once again a rock at the back.

Carl Jones, a key figure in Gateshead's back-to-back promotions, has had two steady games alongside Curtis but an error in each one resulted in a crucial second goal on each occasion.

It is the harsh reality of life in the Blue Square Premier that mistakes often prove costly and so it proved at Kenilworth Road,

Kris Gate's energy levels were superb and Wayne Phillips again caused some damage on the left after initially finding it hard to get the better of full back Keith Keane.

Forsyth and Mackay linked up well in attack and Richardson then took up the baton for the second 45 minutes.

Everyone played their part in what was a real team performance and one that Luton boss Mick Harford believes will stand Gateshead in good stead.

"Gateshead were great," said the relieved Wearsider "their players had an excellent attitude and they played some quality football.

"I was just delighted to get the three points and to go top, but if Gateshead play like this for the rest of the season they will win more games than they lose."

Mackay had already chipped wide of the far post when he shot Gateshead ahead in the 5th minute after Phillips had dinked a ball into the right side of the box.

Luton replied when Asa Hall's diagonal drive forced a full length save from Jim Provett, but it was Gateshead who carried the greater threat.

Jamie Harwood had a deflected shot saved by Mark Tyler with Forsyth just unable to pounce on the loose ball, and then good interplay between Forsyth and Mackay opened up Luton again.

Mackay cut inside to drill a left foot shot that was held by Tyler and then Gate put Forsyth again only for Tyler to make an important block.

After an excellent start it all went pear shaped inside one mad minute midway through the first half.

The Tynesiders were once again undone by a corner with Rossi Jarvis's flag kick headed home at the back stick by the unchallenged Hall.

Worse was to follow when Jones' ill advised short pass was cut out and former QPR striker Kevin Gallen clinically found the bottom corner from 16 yards.

Gateshead responded when Phillips got behind the home defence to drill in a low cross that saw Mackay's close range shot blocked by George Pilkington at the expense of a corner.

Disaster then almost struck again when Provett, between his posts near his line, shanked a clearance straight to Andy Burgess just ten yards out and with the goal at his mercy.

The former Hartlepool glove man however redeemed himself with an excellent save with his foot that somehow deflected Burgess's shot over the bar.

Gallen whipped a 25 yard shot just wide following a short free kick as Gateshead hung on to keep the deficit to one goal at the interval.

It was Luton's only real spell of pressure and Harford's side failed to test Provett after the break though Gallen had a volley ruled out for offside.

The introduction of Richardson for the second half almost brought an instant dividend when he raced on to Gate's ball down the right.

The strikers driven cross for Mackay however was cut out by the sliding Pilkington at the near post and then Phillips had a shot charged down after a short run.

Gateshead were dominating possession without seriously threatening Tyler though Phillips got in again on the left only for another driven cross to fail to find its intended target.

Richardson had a speculative 35 yard shot comfortably saved by Tyler who also held on to a Richardson header from Phil Turnbull's cross.

Gateshead just pulled up short of claiming a shock result but if they didn't take the points they certainly took the plaudits at Kenilworth Road.

Gateshead: Provett, Baxter, Robinson, Gate, Curtis, Jones (Armstrong 83m), Harwood (Francis 70m), Turnbull, Forsyth (Richardson 45m), Mackay, Phillips
Subs: (not used) Farman (gk), Swailes

Att: 6,829

By Jeff Bowron.

Craig Baxter repels a Luton Town raid in front of the Gateshead flag in the visitors enclosure at Kenilworth Road.

Craig Baxter repels a Luton Town raid in front of the Gateshead flag in the visitors enclosure at Kenilworth Road.

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