5:22pm Monday 1st April 2013
Luton 1, Harriers 2
FIRST half goals for Anthony Malbon and Josh Gowling ensured Harriers kept their title hopes alive with the club's' first ever win over Luton on Easter Monday.
The three points ensured Steve Burr's side a top five finish in the Blue Square Bet Premier and a place in the promotion play-offs.
They remain top of the table, a point ahead of Mansfield, who have three games in hand and defeated Gateshead 4-0.
Harriers had been much the better side in the first half but had to survive a barrage in the game's final 20 minutes but they held on to send the 408 vociferous away fans home happy.
Burr made one change from the side which defeated Braintree on Saturday.
Experienced midfielder Keith Briggs was chosen ahead of James Vincent, who dropped to the bench.
With Harriers needing a win to keep their title hopes alive and Luton with little to play for except pride, it took 15 minutes for the game to settle.
But it was the visitors who found their stride the quicker.
Hatters keeper Mark Tyler was forced into a fine save in the 11th minute to deny Malbon, who had raced onto a dissecting long ball by Lee Vaughan.
But it was defensive rock Gowling who handed them the lead in the 13th.
Luton had failed to deal with Lee Vaughan's raking cross from the right and the ball fell to the unmarked centre back, who calmly slotted a left-footed shot into the back of the net from 12-yards out.
The hosts hit back and Harriers needed the woodwork to ensure their lead. Scott Rendell had flung himself at a cross but his header crashed off the post.
The hitman then shot tamely wide with just keeper Danny Lewis to beat after good work by strike partner Jon Shaw.
Harriers looked dangerous going forward and it took a good block by veteran defender Steve McNulty to deny Malbon after good work by Michael Gash.
But Harriers' in-form hitman Malbon was constantly hassling the slow-footed defender and his good work paid off in the 35th minute.
McNulty slipped on the edge of the box under pressure from Malbon, who then rounded Tyler and finished emphatically to double Harriers' lead.
The Luton defender, who was carrying an injury, was then replaced by Scott Griffiths.
Danny Pilkington could have added a third late in the half but his cross was too high and wide.
Luton made another change early in the second half, when midfielder Jonathan Smith replaced David Martin.
But the home side seemed to lack urgency as Harriers looked composed at the back, inspired by the immaculate Gowling.
But the defender was nearly left red-faced in the 71st minute.
Solomon Taiwo's free-kick was delivered with pace and the Harriers' defender saw his attempted clearance hit the underside of the bar and bounced down.
While the ball looked as though it could have gone over the line, Harriers cleared and the referee did not signal for a goal.
Hatters boss John Still threw on top-scorer Andre Gray and he ensured a tense end to the game when he pulled a goal back in the 83rd minute.
Matt Robinson then saw a shot fly across the face of goal as Harriers were put under pressure.
But they used all their experience to hold off Luton and bag an important three points.
Harriers: Lewis, L Vaughan, Demetriou, Storer, Malbon (Gittings, 88), Pilkington (Johnson, 79), Jackman, Gash, Briggs (Vincent, 71), Dunkley, Gowling.
Subs not used: Rowe, N Vaughan.
Luton: Tyler, Rowe-Turner, McNulty (Griffiths, 39) Shaw, Rendell (Gray, 69), Howells, Ainge, Martin (Smith, 55), Robinson, Goodman, Taiwo.
Subs not used: Wall, Brill.
Referee: K Johnson Attendance: 6,108 (408)
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