Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Report: Dorchester Town 2-2 Luton Town - FA Trophy R1

LATE LEVELLER: Charlie Clough

AT times the gulf in class was all too apparent, but not often enough as the giants of non-league Luton Town were outbattled by dogged Dorchester.

The fact that Charlie Clough’s equalising header arrived in injury time couldn’t paper over the cracks as the Hatters’ full strength side flattered to deceive in Dorset.

When Paul Buckle’s full strength side looked good, they were imperious and threatened to take the Magpies to the cleaners, but the visitors’ effort and endeavour soon waned with Phil Simkin’s cup heroes showing how it should be done.

Inspired by their recent FA Cup heroics against League TwoPlymouth, Dorchester didn’t allow their heads to drop when Luton did show their strength.

And in truth, the hosts produced some classy moments of their own that were more than deserving of a second trip to Kenilworth Road in fourdays next week. The task facing Dorchester in the FA Cup 2nd round will seem all the less daunting now they have matched their illustrious opponents.

In many ways it was so close to an unlikely victory for the Magpies and had it not been for a shaky start, a defensive lapse and two fine saves from Luton custodian Mark Tyler we could be talking about another famous upset.

It didn’t start that way though. Dorchester were clearly unnerved by the Hatters who took full advantage, albeit with an element of fortune in the opening minute. Just 58 seconds had passed when Andre Gray’s follow up cannoned off Neil Martin and into the unfortunate Jason Matthews’ net.

A long night was on the horizon as Gray only found the sidenetting when set away down the right and JJ O’Donnell should have found the net on 11 minutes but his tame finish at the far post was deflected wide.

Dorchester eventually settled and found their outball through Jake Gosling on the right who regularly got the better of Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.

However, the host’s chance of the half came from a straightforward punt downfield with debutant Richard Logan flicking on for strike partner Ben Watson to race through one-on-one, but Hatters stopper Tyler stood firm and tipped his low finish around the far post at full stretch. 

It was a rare moment where Luton’s rearguard looked like it could be breached during the first half with defender Janos Kovacs in fearsome form, blocking from Logan and winger Sam Malsom before the break.

At the other end, the Hatters faithful will be wishing that Gray had shown similar prowess after weathering the storm, but the former Hinckley United frontman enjoyed a tortuous evening, wasting three glorious chances to double the lead before half time.

And how Luton were to rue those misses as Dorchester got closer to their opponents from the restart and played the more enterprising football.

It is no secret that Dorchester have lacked a cutting edge this season, hence the arrival of more striking options in recent weeks, but they eventually forced the ball home through the determination that has won them so many plaudits.

Overlapping stand-in full back Nathan Walker drilled the ball across the face of goal for Logan to hold up and lay off for onrushing captain Mark Jermyn to crash the ball home, a fitting contribution for a man making his 100th cup appearance for Dorchester.

Logan blazed over the crossbar as the game became tight, but the home side’s heads were in hands as a soft goal seemingly handed Luton victory.

Stuart Fleetwood came off the bench for the ineffectual Gray and merely stood on the shoulder of the last defender, collecting six offsides during a 28-minute appearance, but his predatory instincts paid dividends as he slammed home O’Donnell’s cross-shot with 12 minutes to play.

Clough saw a header from Jon Garcia’s corner acrobatically clawed away by Tyler as Dorchester pushed for a leveller but the Magpies’ tenacity finally paid off in stoppage time. Portsmouth loanee Dan Thompson, whose touch frequently evaded him after replacing Logan, flashed a corner in for Clough to peel away from Simon Ainge and thump home the equaliser.

It was a mini triumph for a side that had given its all and a stern message to Luton, as if they needed it, that it takes more than the best squad on paper to succeed in non-league.

DORCHESTER TOWN: Matthews, Walker, Martin, Clough. Pugh, Gleeson, Gosling, Jermyn, Watson, Logan (Thompson 79), Malsom (Garcia 69). Subs not used: Smeeton, Morgan, Crittenden.
Goals: Jermyn 58, Clough 90+2.

LUTON TOWN: Tyler, Rowe-Turner, Kovacs, Lawless (Dance 86), Rendell, Howells, Ainge, O’Donnell, Smith, Henry, Gray (Fleetwood 62). Subs not used: Beckwith, Walker, Brill.

Goals: Martin (og) 1, Fleetwood 78.

STAR MAN: Mark Tyler (Luton Town)

This match ebbed and flowed and went from the sublime to the silly in its own entertaining way. Tyler takes the award for proving to be the difference. He made two outstanding saves when his side were one up and could well have kept them in the competition. If Luton go on to lift the Trophy, they will look back on this night and thank their keeper. 

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