Full-time report: Stevenage 1 Luton Town 2
- Credit: Archant
Alex Wall’s winner seven minutes from time gave Luton Town the bragging rights in today’s derby match.
The substitute had only been on the pitch for less than a minute when he hit a terrific curling effort past Boro keeper Chris Day to decide the outcome of a fascinating game at the Lamex Stadium.
This was a match that both sets of supporters had been counting down the days to, and the opening moments did not disappoint.
The Town fans made a boisterous start in supporting their team, and they let out a huge Hatters roar on nine minutes when, from a free-kick, Luke Wilkinson headed in to put the visitors ahead.
The same player then forced a fine save out of Day low to his left as the visitors continued to dominate the early stages.
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In a Boro performance that was starting to mirror the away display at Oxford United last month, it took more than 30 minutes for the home side to give their own supporters something to cheer about.
But then up stepped Charlie Lee. The midfielder has shown his considerable class plenty of times this season, and here he picked out team-mate Chris Whelpdale in space just inside the box, to the right of goal.
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It was a wonderful ball, and it allowed the winger to nod back across goal where Tom Pett, who was a summer transfer target for the Hatters, was on hand to divert the ball past the flailing Mark Tyler for the equaliser.
Pett went close to adding a second 15 minutes into the second half. But after Boro had worked the ball up the left and Charlie Lee’s cross was headed into his path by Whelpdale, the winger was left frustrated by Tyler getting down low to save.
It was becoming an absorbing game with a couple of strong challenges, most notably by Paul Benson on Dean Wells, although it was a little short on chances at both ends with the defences on top.
If anything, Luton were having the better of things but the Boro back line, marshalled superbly by Wells, were stubborn and resolute in open play.
Luton had a glorious chance to wrap up the game with just over 10 minutes to go, but Boro had Jon Ashton to thank for keeping them in it.
Again, it was a Hatters free-kick and Charlie Walker was afforded far too much room at the far post where his header crept past Day only for Ashton to slide in and clear the ball off the line.
And yet, his clearance counted for nothing as just a couple of minutes later Wall stepped up with the winning goal when he collected Pelly Ruddock’s pass and curled his shot past Day and into the net to send the Luton fans behind the goal into derby day raptures.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Ashton, Wells, Charles, Whelpdale, Lee, Bond, Parrett (Conlon 61), Pett (Deacon 70) Beardsley (Calcutt 82). Subs: Reading, Dembele, Lancaster, Johnson.
Luton Town: Tyler, Lacey, Griffiths, McNulty, Wilkinson, Smith (Stevenson), Doyle, Drury, Ruddock Mpanzu, Benson (Walker 70), Cullen (Wall 83). Subs: Howells, Justham, Guttridge, Robinson.