Two sent off as Luton beat Biddy
LUTON Town started their South West Challenge Cup campaign with an impressive 3-0 win over Bideford at the Sports Ground tonight.
But the match was marred by a red card for each team following a flare-up early in the second half.
OFF: Bideford's Jamie Densham and Luton defender Alan White were dismissed.
Referee Brett Huxtable dismissed home striker Jamie Densham and Luton defender Alan White after the pair grappled in the corner of the pitch.
By that stage, the Hatters held a 2-0 advantage provided with a first-half brace from Tom Craddock.
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And they went on to seal the win with a stunning 20-yard strike from Drew Talbot.
Still jaded by their efforts against Wycombe Wanderers on Monday, the Robins battled hard to limit the damage.
But they were up against a side looking sharp and focused for their first match in North Devon.
Craddock opened the scoring on 25 minutes after the Robins were caught napping when Kevin Nicholls worked a short corner.
George Pilkington fired across goal, giving Craddock the simple task of tapping home at the far post.
By that stage fellow striker Liam Hatch had gone close several times, twice seeing shots saved by goalkeeper Ryan Draper.
Hatch proved a real threat in the air against Bideford's defensive trio Chris Brown, Dominic Rivans and debutant Danny Harris.
His first-time cross then set up Craddock for a clinical header as the Hatters doubled the lead on the stroke of half time.
Luton boss Mick Harford made multiple changes at the break, but one of the fresh faces, White, lasted barely 10 minutes before seeing red.
Initially he appeared to be obstructed by Densham as the pair jostled for possession in the corner.
Reacting angrily, White raised his hands and the two players squared up to each other.
Seeking advice from his assistant, Huxtable sent both players off, leaving the teams to carry on with a game of 10-a-side.
One player to relish the extra space was Talbot who put the result beyond doubt in spectacular fashion.
He instantly controlled a huge clearance from goalkeeper Preston Edwards before lashing a shot beyond Draper and in off the far post.
To their credit, Bideford refused to buckle under the constant pressure but they rarely managed to threaten at the opposite end.
Draper endured a busy evening and the damage might have been greater but for his fine reaction save from Asa Hall's header.
Defeat means Bideford are out of the tournament while Luton take on Wycombe at Appledore on Friday for a place in the semi-finals.
Bideford have arranged a friendly for Friday evening when they will take on Bodmin Town in Cornwall (7.45pm).
Bideford: Ryan Draper, Matt Downing (Sam Scott 56), Nick Barker, Dominic Rivans (Rob Francis ht), Chris Brown, Danny Harris, Ian Down (Matt Andrew 61), Matt Hockley (Craig Duff 74), Ellis Laight (Billy Hopcroft 64), Kevin Squire (Matt Broom 61), Jamie Densham.
Luton Town - first half: Mark Tyler, Keith Keane, Jake Howells, George Pilkington, Ian Roper, Asa Hall, Kevin Nicholls, Rossi Jarvis (Adam Newton 15), Andy Burgess, Tom Craddock, Liam Hatch.
Luton Town - second half: Preston Edwards, Claude Gnapka, George Beavon, Ian Roper (Alan Neilson 68), Alan White, Asa Hall (Adam Watkins 61), Kevin Gallen, Adam Newton (Kevin Watson 61), Jake Howells, Drew Talbot, Ryan Charles.