FA Cup Second Round Proper

Luton Town 6

(Danny Hylton, Johnny Mullins, Stephen O’Donnell x2, Jack Marriott x2)

Solihull Moors 2

(Jamey Osborne x2)

Attendance: 3,512

Kenilworth Road

This season the FA Cup has been amazing for my personal fixture list. I didn’t set out with the intentions of making every round but after heading over to Verwood Town v Hengrove Athletic in the Extra Preliminary Round replay I realised that it would be a cool thing to do.

Now in the second round (eight rounds in for the none plastic fans who think the FA Cup starts in January) I am fully committed to continuing my journey all the way to the final.

Ironically, I was in Luton when the second round draw was made, hoping that the Hatters were drawn at home as I would be in the Bedfordshire town when round three rolled around.

The fact that Luton were drawn at home was enough, but when Solihull Moors managed to cause an upset and knock Yeovil out in the replay I was buzzing to be heading to one of the ties of the round, a potential ‘Cupset’ on the cards.

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The Ground

I had visited Kenilworth Road once previously and seen what little you could see from the outside.

It doesn’t look like the most inviting place when on a non-match day you have to ask the ticket office to unlock the club shop so you can have a look.

On a Saturday afternoon with a few fans milling about, it is a little bit more inviting, if not run down. Nestled in rows of terraced houses, it’s a wonder that anyone new to the ground ever finds where they should enter the stadium. Having first got to the away end, the entrance wedged between two houses, I was sent down a long alleyway eventually seeing the run down ticket office and club shop that I remember from my first, brief visit.

I picked up my ticket and entered the ground, purchased my standard programme and Bovril and found my seat, delighted that I had no support beams blocking my view, I did spend more time than I care to admit on Google images at pictures of the ground when booking my ticket.

If you don’t mind a restricted view then sit pretty much anywhere with support beams/pillars littering the ground, unless you want to be at pitch level to avoid them.

The fact that along one side of the pitch is solely executive boxes gives the ground a great disservice in that no atmosphere can be generated from what could be a big chunk of fans if it was a proper seated stand.

Now I fully understand that Kenilworth Road is an old ground having been opened in 1905 but I am in that generation where newer stadiums have become the norm and I am fully up for a seat (with a back on it) and an unrestricted view, especially if you are paying good money for the ticket.

That all said, it’s another ground ticked off and another off the 92! I haven’t been able to say that for a while!

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The Game

Luton scored six in the second half to pull back a two-goal deficit and prevent a potential FA Cup giant killing against Non-League Solihull Moors.

Moors midfielder Jamey Osborne had scored a brace giving the National League side the edge going into the break. However Luton responded superbly and blew away Moors, putting their name in the hat for the prestigious third round.

Liam McDonald’s Non-League side started brightly, not giving Luton any time to settle and they soon found themselves ahead when Osborne curled a beautiful shot into the top corner, leaving home goalkeeper Christian Walton planted to the floor. Luton allowed Connor Franklin a free run towards the box and he passed to Osborne to took a half turn before unleashing the shot.

The fans were getting restless and tensions were running high as Moors were definitely up for the challenge and they soon found themselves in the driving seat on 35 minutes when Akwasi Asante did well to keep the ball in play from Omari Sterling’s cross and he managed to cut the ball back to Osborne who was left open in the box to take a touch and fire into the bottom corner.

The game was scrappy with both teams putting in rash challenges and the game was lucky to have kept all 22 players on the pitch as the referee tried to keep control of the game.

Whatever was said in the home dressing room at half time must have worked as Luton looked like a completely different team after the restart. Nathan Jones made one change at full back, Stephen O’Donnell replacing James Justin.

It took just six minutes for the Hatters to pull a goal back when they hit Solihull on the break. Jack Marriott got the better of Franklin on half way before sending a searching diagonal ball over to Danny Hylton and Cameron McGeehan with the latter leaving the ball for Hylton to take a touch and slot past Daniel Lewis.

Jones’ men were in the ascendency and pulled the score level three minutes later through Johnny Mullins. Hylton had collected the ball from Jordan Cook’s cross and teed up Mullins who coolly curled the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Solihull Moors were in complete self-destruct mode and Luton went ahead on 59 minutes through O’Donnell. Marriott had broken away from the defender on half way as Solihull continued to attack and played a nice ball across to O’Donnell in an advanced position, to slide the ball across the ‘keeper and into the bottom corner to complete a remarkable comeback scoring three goals in eight minutes.

The onslaught didn’t stop there as they added a fourth on 63 minutes, this time Marriott getting on the score sheet after setting up two goals already. Hylton played a defence splitting pass to Marriott who was just onside and he calmly slid the ball past Lewis to put the game to bed.

Moors had nothing left as they could sense their dream cup run was coming to an end and Luton were in control having looked so disorganised in the first half.

As the game wore on there was still time for Luton to add to the score when O’Donnell played a nice one-two with substitute Kyle Vassell and displayed a good turn in the box before placing a soft shot with his weaker foot into the back of the net.

Solihull had completely ran out of steam and man of the match Marriott finished off the game in injury time when he collected McGeehan’s through ball, cut inside Liam Daly and smashed the ball home to send the fans home with a smile on their faces.

2016/17 Games: 65

2016/17 Grounds: 48

Total Grounds Visited (not for a match): 141 (37)

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