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Forest Green: Champions Luton Town too strong for Rovers

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 21, 2014

Yan Klukowski

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Skrill Premier champions Luton Town eventually had too much for Forest Green at a packed and pumped Kenilworth Road.

The teams traded penalties during an even first half, Andre Gray cancelling out a Yan Klukowski strike that virtually silenced a crowd of 10,044.

But Cameron McGeehan's goal, another for Gray and a fourth for Mark Cullen made it an afternoon to treasure for the Hatters as Ady Pennock's patched-up outfit ran out of steam.

Pennock named an extremely attacking line-up, with Klukowski recalled to midfield and Jason Walker – back from a successful loan spell at Southport – handed his first Rovers start against one of his former clubs.

Youth team striker Dan Martin was on the bench, one of only four substitutes named after Dale Bennett, Marcus Kelly and Bradley Jordan all failed to recover from weekend injuries.

The visitors showed a touch of class by forming a guard of honour for John Still's side as they took to the pitch, but that was where the niceties ought to have ended.

Instead Luke Oliver needlessly conceded a corner in the fourth minute, from which Eddie Oshodi's clearing header dropped for Andre Gray to fire narrowly wide.

Walker was partnered up front by Luke Rodgers, and he had Forest Green's first clear sight of goal when he curled one wide in the 11th minute.

Three minutes later Rodgers was on the end of a whipped Anthony Barry corner and saw his header dip narrowly too late to trouble Hatters goalkeeper Mark Tyler.

James Norwood connected well with a 20-yard drive that had to be carefully watched and clutched by Tyler, while a brilliant block by Oshodi at the other end denied Jake Howells after he had been picked out by Matt Robinson's raking pass.

A bristling atmosphere was punctured in the 33rd minute when Luton defender Steve McNulty was penalised for handball and Klukowski converted his 14th goal of the season from the spot.

Only a goal for Walker would further dampen the home supporters' mood, and he threatened to oblige with a shot from the edge of the area that flew over.

Instead the party was reignited in first-half stoppage time, Gray ramming home a spot-kick of his own after he had cleverly nicked the ball past Sam Russell and the furious keeper was penalised for a trip.

Rovers were bright at the start of the second period, skipper Barry bringing a low save from Tyler with a skidding free-kick.

But they fell behind on 55 minutes when Russell could only parry McGeehan's swerving strike and the on-loan Norwich City midfielder reacted quickest to bundle home the rebound.

Four minutes later it was 3-1, Cullen swinging over a fine cross from the left for a soaring Gray to net his second of the afternoon.

Youngster Martin was summoned from the bench in place of Walker, who headed straight down the tunnel to a tirade of abuse from the terraces.

Luton were now intent on turning on the style, Howells embarking on a mazy run on the left before letting fly with an angled drive that whistled over.

Rodgers was then cautioned for handling Jared Hodgkiss' cross into the net – a cheeky attempt to open his scoring account for the club.

The icing was applied to Luton's cake in stoppage time when Cullen jinked his way into the area and produced an arrow-like finish into the bottom corner.

Luton Town: M. Tyler; R. Henry, S. McNulty (A. Lacey 48), F. Franks, S. Griffiths; McGeehan, P. Ruddock Mpanzu, M. Robinson; M. Cullen, A. Gray (A. Wall 61), J. Howells (J. Shaw 73); Subs not used: A. Parry, E. Justham.

Forest Green: S. Russell; P. Green, L. Oliver, E. Oshodi, J. Hodgkiss; M. Taylor, Y. Klukowski, A. Barry, J. Norwood; L. Rodgers (D. Wright 85), J. Walker (D. Martin 67); Subs not used: L. Hughes, P. White.

Referee: D. Treleaven (Sussex)

Attendance: 10,044

Star man: Jared Hodgkiss

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