Luton Town 2-2 Gateshead

23/01/2011, by Jeff Bowron

Michael LiddleGateshead defied the odds, both on the betting front and on the pitch, to pick up an excellent point at former top flight club Luton Town.

Given the longest Conference odds of the day, and touted as no hopers by the bookies, Gateshead stunned a 6,000 strong Kenilworth Road crowd by scoring twice early on.

The Hatters stormed back to level and then Gateshead were left with a mountain to climb when captain, and defensive rock, Ben Clark was unjustly sent off in first half injury time.

Irked by the decision, and having seen his side's two goal lead wiped out, manager Ian Bogie was also sent off after clashing with Staffordshire referee Rob Merchant as the teams left the pitch.

With Bogie absent from the bench and Clark remaining in the dressing room, ten man Gateshead regrouped to such good affect that third top Luton didn't muster a single shot on target after the break.

Substitute Taiwo Atieno, however, almost grabbed the winner with virtually the last kick of the game but that would have been harsh on a Gateshead side that played well at Kenilworth Road for the second season running.

If there was little goalmouth action in the second 45 minutes the first half was simply breathtaking, Luton shunning a golden chance to take the lead after just 93 seconds.

Mark Tyler's long clearance cleared Clark and when Claude Gnapka flicked on Danny Crow, left with only Tim Deasy to beat, scuffed his shot horribly wide.

It was the prelude to a difficult first half for the Gateshead defence with Lloyd Owusu in particular causing plenty of problems.

Gateshead, however, wee lively going forward themselves and they were ahead in their first attack.

Michael Liddle advanced on goal to arrow a 22 yard low shot that took a slight deflection to find the net off the far post, his second goal for the club.

Zdenek Kroca volleyed an Alex Lawless corner just over the bar before Luton were stunned by a second Gateshead goal on 16 minutes.

Martin Brittain's cross took a heavy deflection off Jake Howells and the ball looped over Tyler and into the far corner.

With Luton's front men a handful in the air a Gnapka cross was headed on by Owusu to the unmarked Matthew Barnes-Homer who shot straight at Deasy with the goal at his mercy.

With Clark off the pitch receiving treatment the Hatters pulled a goal back when Barnes-Homer slipped a ball through to Crow who rounded Deasy to score.

Brittain's miscue then saw the ball lofted towards the visitors goal, Owusu getting there first only to be denied by Deasy.

Gateshead then had a great chance to restore their two goal cushion but the unmarked Jon Shaw headed Brittain's cross wide from close range.

Clark was judged to have fouled Owusu just outside the box on the right, picking up a booking for his troubles.

Lawless' set play was a cross, but the ball evaded everyone, hit the inside of the post and then struck Gnapka to rebound onto the net.

Edmundsson had a shot deflected just wide at the other end
before Clark was sent off for a perceived trip on Gnapka when the former Hartlepool United man clearly won the ball in a fair tackle.

With Clark given a second yellow and out of the game Edmundsson was sacrificed with Craig Baxter coming in at right back and James Tavernier switching to centre half.

Faced with two banks of four with Shaw the lone striker, Luton created very little and the second half was the exact opposite of the first.

The hard working Gary Mulligan pulled the ball back for Shaw on the hour and the striker's shot was deflected wide for a corner that came to nothing.

Neither keeper had a shot to save, some of Luton's attempts from outside the box high and wide, include one that landed on the roof of the stand behind the goal.

A well organised Gateshead had heroes all over the pitch, with teenage Magpie Tavernier showing his quality at both right back and at centre half.

The only scares came in stoppage time, Atieno just unable to convert Lawless' driven centre that flew across the face of goal and then hitting an angled shot on the turn that flew inches wide of the far post.

Had that gone in it would have been a dagger through the heart, instead it was Gateshead and their travelling fans who were celebrating a famous result at the end of the game.

 

Luton Town: Tyler, Asafu-Adjaye (Watkins 83), Howells, Kroca, G.Pilkington, Gnapka, Crow, Keane, Lawless, Owusu (Poku 61), Barnes-Homer (Atieno 67)
Subs (not used): Kid (gk), O'Donnell

Goals: (Crow 27), Gnapka (36)

Bookings: None

 

Gateshead: Deasy, Tavernier, Liddle, Gate, Curtis, Clark, Brittain, Turnbull, Shaw (Wake 75), Mulligan (Fisher 80), Edmundsson (Baxter 46)
Subs (not used): Farman (gk), Gillies

Sent off: Clark (45)

Goals: Liddle (10), Howells - og (16)

 

Referee: Rob Merchant (Staffordshire)

Att: 5,958

 

Tim Deasy Michael Liddle and Kris Gate

 

Tim Deasy

 

James Curtis and Kris Gate

Photos courtesy of Luton Town FC

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