Luton 2-0 Wrexham

By Chris OsborneBBC Sport at Kenilworth Road
Stuart Fleetwood

Luton Town put in a fine display to take a two-goal cushion to Wrexham for the second leg of their Blue Square Bet Premier play-off semi-final.

Andre Gray gave Luton the lead, converting Stuart Fleetwood's cut back.

And the pair linked up again for the second after Fleetwood applied the finishing touch to a Gray back heel.

Andy Morrell had Wrexham's best chance, while Robbie Willmott and Janos Kovacs missed superb chances late on to extend Luton's advantage.

The tie was a repeat of last year's semi-final, when Luton made a dream start by going 3-0 up within 35 minutes at the Racecourse Ground on the way to a 5-1 aggregate win.

It was not that disastrous for the Welsh side this time around, but it was close.

Fleetwood was the provider for the opener, collecting Keith Keane's long ball on the right side and cutting the ball back to Gray, who rifled past Joslain Mayebi for his sixth goal in 10 games for the Hatters since joining from Hinckley in March.

The roles were reversed shortly afterwards, as Alex Lawless dispossessed Nat Knight-Percival on the halfway line and gave it to Gray. He fed Fleetwood and the Welshman saw his shot go in off the left-hand post.

Wrexham's sole first-half effort came when Morrell's low shot drew a fine save from Mark Tyler, tipping the ball around the post.

The half-time team talk from player-manager Morrell seemed to lift Wrexham, who continuously turned to the power and persistence of Mathias Pogba for inspiration.

The pressure drew a barrage of corners - six in the opening 11 minutes of the second half - but Knight-Percival's wayward header was all they could show for their efforts.

Luton remained dangerous on the counter attack, with Gray forcing a superb stop from Mayebi and Willmott hitting his six-yard effort straight at the keeper following good work from Gray.

And Kovacs looked to have grabbed a third when Mayebi and Neil Ashton's mix-up presented him with an open goal, but Knight-Percival managed to scurry back to clear off the line.

Wrexham, who were without 21-goal top scorer Jake Speight with tonsillitis, now have a gargantuan task in Monday's second leg if they are to prevent the Hatters from reaching their second play-off final in as many years.


Luton Town manager Paul Buckle told BBC Three Counties Radio:

"It felt like some game. Play-offs should be cagey but we opened up the pitch and they did us proud. The biggest disappointment is we did not win by more.

"We expected them to have words at half-time because no team has done that to them. But we looked even more dangerous because we were so solid and breaking at will.

"What we must do is take confidence from it and try to win the game up there. The game's never over, we've just got to be organised when we go up there.

"We've got to prepare to go up there to be professional and see what we can do. I'm very focused on what we've got to do. We know we've done very well but we've got to focus on Monday."

Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell told BBC Radio Wales:

"Again we haven't showed up in the first half which is so disappointing. I don't know why and we can't afford to do that in a 180-minute tie.

"The tie could have been over but we've hung in there and the second half was so much better.

"The lads have stood up and been counted in the second half. They could have gone under and it could have been over but it wasn't. The tie's alive. We've got to put it right Monday."

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