Luton through to Errea final
LUTON TOWN have booked their place in tomorrow's Errea South West Challenge Cup final.
Mick Harford's men beat Exeter City 3-2 at Mill Road this afternoon after Drew Talbot hit the winning goal midway through the second half.
The Hatters edged an enjoyable contest which saw both sides play some slick football, particularly in the first half.
City made the brighter start, knocking the ball around smartly on a surface speeded up by the pre-match showers.
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One early move saw defender Rob Edwards pick out Elliott Freer with a perfectly weighted pass, but when the winger cut the ball back, James Dunn blazed wildly over.
Seconds later, Dunn's midfield partner Alex Russell showed him how it should be done, calmly tucking a shot past Mark Tyler to give the Grecians a 15th-minute lead.
Like Edwards, Troy Archibald-Henville also showed he could bring the ball out from the back, with a skilful charge down field to set up another attack.
The defender picked out James Berry who crossed for Barry Corr, but the tall striker was penalised for a push as he won the far-post header.
Driven on by their energetic captain Kevin Nicholls, Luton gradually got on top though.
Frontman Liam Hatch — so impressive against Bideford on Wednesday — went close twice with headers before helping the Hatters turn things around before the break.
Andy Burgess easily got into the left channel and when Edwards could only half-clear at the near post, Hatch bundled home the equaliser.
Strike partner Tom Craddock then got in on the act slotting Luton into a 2-1 lead as the City defence parted all too easily.
Asa Hall released Craddock who confidently slid the ball between goalkeeper Andy Marriott's legs.
The introduction of pacy frontman James Norwood for Marcus Stewart at half-time almost paid instant dividends for Exeter.
Norwood outpaced the Luton defence from the right flank only to shoot weakly into Tyler's hands.
Fellow substitute Craig McAllister soon made his presence felt, outmuscling Luton's sturdy centre-back Ian Roper to bundle in the equaliser.
As both managers rotated their squads with a string of changes, the second half never had the same fluency as the first.
Yet Luton grabbed the winner in the final 15 minutes after exploiting another gap in the Grecians' defence.
Talbot, scorer of one of the goals of the tournament against Bideford in Group C, proved clinical once more, drilling low past Marriott.
City pressed for another equaliser but Norwood headed just over from Manny Panther's corner and neither Panther or McAllister could apply the decisive touch when man of the match Freer stood up another cross.
Backed by their travelling fans, Luton will look forward to tomorrow's final at Bideford's Sports Ground (6pm).
Exeter City: Andy Marriott, Richard Duffy, Lewis Tasker (Scott Bennett), Troy Archibald-Henville (Steve Tully), Rob Edwards, James Dunn, Alex Russell (Joe Burnell ht), James Berry (Manny Panther 62), Elliott Freer, Barry Corr (James Norwood ht), Marcus Stewart (Craig McAllister ht).
Luton Town: Mark Tyler, Keith Keane, Jake Howells, Asa Hall, Ian Roper, George Pilkington, Adam Newton, Kevin Nicholls, Liam Hatch (Drew Talbot 60), Tom Craddock (Ryan Charles 60), Andy Burgess (George Beavon 68).
Referee: Lee Swabey