HAS­SEL­BAINK HAPPY WITH UGLY WIN AS LU­TON FADE

Palmer is Bur­ton Al­bion’s hero

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Mike Sim­monds

IT WAS far from pretty but Bur­ton Al­bion manager Jimmy Floyd Has­sel­baink ad­mit­ted he couldn’t care less as his Brew­ers took an­other step to­wards pro­mo­tion.

The vis­i­tors were never in top gear through­out this match, but Matty Palmer’s de­flected win­ner on 79 min­utes proved the dif­fer­ence as Bur­ton set their sights on League One.

And while it was a hard slog, Brew­ers boss Has­sel­baink was quick to praise his side’s pro­fes­sion­al­ism in get­ting over the line

“Lu­ton are fight­ing for their lives, they’re play­ing for this won­der­ful crowd who are go­ing to be their 12th man,” he said. “I think at stages we con­trolled the game, they had no chances, or maybe a 50-50 one.

“It was a tight game as it’s al­ways go­ing to be, and you know that we can score at any mo­ment, es­pe­cially when we have run­ners for­ward.

“The po­si­tion that Matty was in, that’s the po­si­tion we want him in, in front of goal, and shoot­ing at goal.

“It was a pro­fes­sional per­for­mance and we needed to be pro­fes­sional, needed to be right, needed to be very dis­ci­plined and hard to beat and I think we were that. I’m de­lighted with three points.”

Mean­while, for Lu­ton boss John Still it was a case of missed op­por­tu­ni­ties as his side lost fur­ther ground in the play-off race.

Still said: “We had three great chances, they had one de­flected shot, what can we do about that?

“We’ve played well, had chances, haven’t won, but that’s foot­ball. I’m re­ally pleased with how we played and dis­ap­pointed not to have got some­thing from the game.

“We wanted to come out and attack and I think we did. I ac­tu­ally thought we ground them down, the move­ment for Scott Griffiths’ chance was fan­tas­tic.

“If I look at the 90 minute game, play­ing a team that’s in good form and in good spir­its. To limit them to very lit­tle, I was very pleased.”

Af­ter Adam McGurk di­rected his header wide from Lu­cas Akins’ cross, it was the hosts who eas­ily had the bet­ter chances in the open­ing pe­riod. Paul Ben­son put a vol­ley over the top, while Michael Har­ri­man fired into the side-netting and then El­liot Lee’s at­tempt couldn’t trou­ble Jon McLaugh­lin.

Alex Law­less’ low curler was also nar­rowly wide of the mark as Bur­ton took a while to get into their stride. When they did, Phil Ed­wards’ long-range at­tempt was eas­ily fielded by El­liot Justham, be­fore the Lu­ton keeper claimed Akins’ drive from 20 yards.

Just be­fore the half-time whis­tle, the Hat­ters had an­other fine open­ing when Jake How­ells’ free-kick was met by Lee at the far post, but he nod­ded into the crowd.

In the sec­ond pe­riod, McGurk headed straight at Justham, with How­ells then burst­ing down the wing as Paul Ben­son’s toe-poke was de­flected be­hind.

Full-back Griffiths then had a mar­vel­lous op­por­tu­nity af­ter a neat move on the left, find­ing him­self one-on-one with McLaugh­lin, only to fizz over the top.

McGurk’s free-kick lo­cated Justham’s gloves, while Bur­ton sub Ab­de­nasser El Khay­ati ar­rowed wide shortly af­ter com­ing off the bench.

Luke Gut­tridge then dragged off tar­get at the other end, with his miss prov­ing cru­cial as mo­ments later Palmer was left in acres of space to fire past Justham, with Hat­ters’ fans scream­ing for an off­side flag that never came.

Lu­ton still could have res­cued a point though, but top scorer Mark Cullen could only loft his shot over as the Hat­ters were beaten on home soil for the fourth game run­ning.

Re­sults else­where mean Bur­ton could be pro­moted the next time they take the field, but af­ter such a mag­nif­i­cent start to the cam­paign, Lu­ton are faced with the very real prospect of an­other sea­son at this level af­ter promis­ing so much.

FLOORED: El­liot Justham is beaten by Matty Palmer’s de­flected strike

PIC­TURES: Gareth Owen

LEAP: Denny Johnstone hur­dles the chal­lenge of Steve McNulty

STAR MAN MICHA

EL HARRIM

AN Lu­ton

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