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Luton clinch Challenge Cup

By This is NorthDevon  |  Posted: July 20, 2009

WINNING CAPTAIN: Luton's Kevin Nicholls. 0907-134-21

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LUTON TOWN clinched the Errea South West Challenge Cup with a 3-1 win over Royal Racing FC Montegnee last night.

The Blue Square Premier side always had the edge over their Belgian League opponents in the final at Bideford Sports Ground.

Backed by their loyal group of travelling supporters, Luton were pleased to round off their week in North Devon on a winning note.

While the late withdrawal of Grimsby Town undoubtedly took some gloss off the final, last-minute replacements Montegnee emerged with credit for their efforts.

Tom Craddock opened the scoring with a clinical volley in the 21st minute, and the Hatters were cruising when an own goal from Jon Wheeldon doubled the advantage early in the second half.

Montegnee's fluent football was rewarded with a well-taken free-kick from Danny Williams before Luton substitute Asa Hall made the game safe.

Craddock's sweet volley was the one moment of genuine quality from Mick Harford's men in the first half.

He slammed a shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards after right-back Keith Keane got to the touchline and swung over a cross.

Prior to that, it was the Belgian club making most of the running.

They should have taken the lead moments earlier when Paul Taylor ran at the heart of the defence and Jamie Gosling's scuffed shot was blocked by Keane.

Luton defender Alan White — back from suspension for his red card against Bideford — also had to block on the line after another lively move.

Williams' shot ballooned up in the air and Phillipe Crespin — the only Belgian player in the Montegnee line-up — had his follow-up scrambled away.

Lone striker Taylor was a threat with his pace and trickery but he dragged another opening wide of Mark Tyler's goal after being picked out by Williams.

There was always a sense Luton could change up a few gears though, and after the goal they had the opportunities to inflict further damage.

Skipper Kevin Nicholls charged forward from midfield, rounding goalkeeper Jordan Vreiner only to be denied by a brilliant goalline clearance from Dimitri Stratus.

A rare moment of confusion between defenders Wheeldon and Heath Creager then allowed Drew Talbot to break free, but the striker saw his toe-ender bounce off the top of the bar with Vreiner stranded.

Taylor continued to be a pest for Luton defenders and his clever pass picked out Victor Auarjo for another decent chance.

The Brazilian prodded the ball past Tyler but the arriving Gosling saw his sidefooted strike cleared again by Keane.

Had they been more ruthless in front of goal, the students could have headed in at half-time with a slender lead.

While Luton looked leggy for the first 45, their hard-working opponents were always going to struggle to maintain the tempo for another half.

Harford made four substitutions at the break, with the introduction of Andy Burgess and Adam Newton in particular, providing greater energy on the flanks.

When Newton released Ryan Charles down the right channel, the midfielder's cross was sliced past Vreiner by the unlucky Wheeldon.

At 2-0 down Racing had a mountain to climb but they weren't about to give up without a fight.

Spanish midfielder Inaki Calvo had a close-range effort scrambled to safety when Taylor lashed across goal.

Then referee Brett Huxtable spotted an infringement which nobody else in the ground seemed to notice, giving Montegnee a free-kick on the edge of the area.

The pink-booted Williams whipped the free-kick around the wall and past Tyler to hand his side a lifeline.

But with Luton happy to tick along nicely, keeping possession in midfield, chances to mount further attacks were scarce.

Punctuated by the piercing sound of Huxtable's whistle, the game became scrappy in the closing stages.

Not that the Hatters were too worried after substitute Hall restored the two-goal cushion with 15 minutes left.

Burgess sent over a typical left-footed free-kick and the midfielder bundled home the third under challenge from a defender.

Only some good work from the excellent Wheeldon and Creager prevented a bigger scoreline as the likes of Nicholls, Claude Gnapka and Burgess picked holes in a tiring defence.

With their enthusiastic supporters and impressive wins against Bideford and Exeter City, Luton Town have proved worthy winners of the Challenge Cup.

After the match, captain Nicholls was presented with the trophy and Craddock received both the man of the match and player of the tournament awards.

Luton Town: Mark Tyler (Preston Edwards ht), Keith Keane (Adam Newton ht), George Beavan, Asafu Adajaye (George Pilkington ht), Alan White, Kevin Gallen (Adam Watkins 68), Ryan Charles (Claude Gnapka 58), Kevin Nicholls, Drew Talbot, Tom Craddock (Asa Hall 58), Jake Howells (Andy Burgess ht).

Royal Racing FC Montegnee: Jordan Vreiner, Dimitri Stratus, Jon Wheeldon, Heath Creager, Edwin Tevesignowne (Victor Araujo 21), Inaki Calvo, Omar Persad, Jamie Gosling, Paul Taylor (Boe Ampleford 58), Phillipe Crespin (Jon Acero Castan 54), Danny Williams (Joey Spivach 82).

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    simon gooding, north devon  |  July 20 2009, 6:53PM

    I agree with J, piper of Luton the challenge cup was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it and a big thank you for all those involved and making it such a great success.

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    simon gooding, north devon  |  July 20 2009, 6:42PM

    Hello John Foster in America. many thanks for your link to the Grimsby news, it seems i was at the same challenge cup as all the others after all...and no you dont want cream from Devon you need Cornish cream mate so I cant help you on that One.

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    J Piper, Luton  |  July 20 2009, 6:35PM

    Having spent the whole week following my team Luton and having seen five games in total during the downpours and sunshine, what was a great week of Football turned out even better with the HATTERS winning the trophy. Lets hope this is the first of three pieces of silver for the town this coming Season ? Finally, it was a shame that the Grimsby Manager 'Newell' and his team couldn't sort themselves out and make it for the Final - Shame. Any it was his lose and our gain for once, and no 'bungs' involved I hear. Finally, it was a well organised tournament and hopefully we may be able to come back to North Devon to retain it.

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    simon gooding, north devon  |  July 20 2009, 6:15PM

    No I dont have all the answers. If I did id cure swine flu and be called God. Im just expressing a personnal view by what I experienced and saw at the challenge cup, after all isnt that whats a comments page is all for? or is it only a comments page for those who say what everyone else whats to hear and gloss over everthing as if its ok? Obviously it seems im in the wrong with my comments and everthing is ok in the real world? So I must be living on another planet? The police presence at last nights final was 3 police officers apart from that there was no visible sight of any other police that night. And apart from yesterday there was no other sign of any police at any other game that I personally attended. As for the stewards they personnaly stated that if any trouble had broke out in bidefords club house bar when bideford hosted Luton that they WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO COPE WITH IT OR DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT! Im sorry it appears here that I must have been at another challenge cup, I do apologise and sorry for my comments. Yours it seem confused? NUFF SAID.

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    j linton, torquay  |  July 20 2009, 5:39PM

    mr Gooding you seem to think you have all the answers. But not the understanding of professional clubs or the pain staking work and due diligence that needs to correct. The fact that there was a police presence at the ground, that was enough qualified stewards not dads army and the executive were a wear of the previous history do you think they are not professiopnal in ever aspect of arranging a tournament of this capacity .

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    simon gooding, north devon  |  July 20 2009, 1:33PM

    Another thing that I would like to bring up that I didnt mention before on a "SAFETY" point of view, and again is only a observation at lower league southwest clubs pitchs is that there appears to be "NO" Infrastructure to stop known football trouble makers who are band from their own club grounds from turning up here in quaint sunny devon who are not used to trouble on a regular basis as "SOME AREAS"and running a muck, Whos here to stop them getting into the games? Thats one area that needs to be considered before next years challenge cup if the organisers are looking into bringing bigger clubs to the devon area at smaller club grounds. yours faithfully Mr.Prat

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    simon gooding, north devon  |  July 20 2009, 12:35PM

    Prat? well ive been called worse! you can call me what you like so long as its not late for lunch! Im entitled to my opionion obviously i'ved touched a nerve due to my remarks? usually the truth does that sometimes. I dont need to think before I speak as I have 'HAD' first hand experience of "SOME" fans, obviously you havnt, then think yourself lucky mate! Obviously you didnt read my post properly....I only said 'SOME' and there are "SOME" Fans from "ALL" clubs who spoil the enjoyment of others "BUT" there are clubs 'WORSE THEN OTHERS. I "DIDNT" TAR ALL FANS and Im a BIT MIFT that you even say that "DON'T TWIST MY WORDS! I didnt tar all fans thats why I put the word "SOME" which means I believe "FEW' or has the dictorial meaning of the word been changed since last time that I looked? All I was stating is that those teams out there need serious consideration before you run such a contest with the grounds and facilites that you have here in the southwest TO AVOID THE TROUBLES THE I HAVE EXPERINCED FROM SAID CLUBS IN THE PAST. Think yourself lucky that you live in an area where you can watch football in safety and peace a lot of places do not have the same luxury.My comments were just a constructive observation to prevent something that "COULD" OCCUR IN THE FUTURE after observing things obviously others couldnt see at this years challenge cup.If my comments get me called a prat for preventing something nasty in the future from happening on a safety level then I take the word prat whole heartily and you can call me it as much as you like.

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    John Foster, Portland,Maine,USA  |  July 20 2009, 12:29PM

    For the facts of Grimsbys pull out read this link,then maybe you will understand http://www.sportgrimsby.co.uk/football/grimsby_town/mariners_news/displayarticle.php?ID=9178

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    Peter, bideford  |  July 20 2009, 11:26AM

    Simon you are a prat, how dare you tar all fans of theclubs you mentioned with what SOME and i mean only some of the luton fans have been like. You obviously need to think before you speak because if you did you would know that nearly every football league team now have a group of fans like this ! so whoever is invited could potentially bring fans like this, hving bigger teams in the cup you have to expect this, bigger teams is better for north devon and the cup, but i agree i think the organisers should look at a police presence if they are going to invite big teams, ust for your information also as for the stewards the host clubs organise them so if they get dads army as you said then its them putting the crowds safety at risk ! I hope this cup continues and i hope they invite bigger teams like millwall, leeds etc, and i do hope there fans come to the area, stewards and police to be organised and we could have another great cup, mayb just put in the teams contracts they get fined for pulling out this time.

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    simon gooding, north devon  |  July 20 2009, 9:56AM

    Just one other point....Whoever picks or invites the teams to take part in the Challenge Cup "MUST" Gen up on his football knowledge before teams are picked for next years Challenge Cup if it continues? "SOME" teams have a rotten core of followers, some teams are worse then others and this has to be taken into consideration. I wonder who will be invited to take part next year? Leeds? Millwall? Cardiff? Bristol Rovers? Bradford? Could our little grounds with easy access to the pitch and team dugouts with a handfull of Dads Army stewards and no police presence cope with "SOME" AND I MEAN SOME of the travelling fans from such clubs? Especially after the luton v bideford game this year I think realistically not, although the stewards did do their very best last wednsday they would have been well out of their depth if any REAL trouble had started. SERIOUSLY LOOK INTO WHO YOU INVITE AS PARTISIPATING TEAMS TO AVOID TROUBLE, FOOTBALL CLUB POLITICS AND PULL OUTS ETC!!! But all in all thanks to all those who put on a fine show for us locals who would normally never see or afford to see such teams due to our location and financial situation here in the Southwest. Roll on next years Challenge Cup.....I hope!