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Page last updated at 20:54 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 21:54 UK

Oxford United 2-0 Luton Town

Jamie Cook
Cook was re-signed by Oxford last week for 5,000 thanks to a fans' fund

Oxford United won the battle of the Blue Square Premier's unbeaten teams, beating 10-man Luton Town to go five points clear at the top of the table.

Kick-off was delayed as 10,613 fans piled in, and there was early action as James Constable's penalty was saved by Mark Tyler in the third minute.

Within a minute he had opened the scoring from close range and Jamie Cook made it 2-0 with a stunning strike.

Kevin Nicholls then saw red for Luton, who squandered several good chances.

The victory was Oxford's first league win over the Hatters since November 1992.

The game's kick-off was put back 15 minutes (2000 BST) because of crowd congestion, for the biggest attendance since the Blue Square Premier was rebranded in 2007.

The fixture was a top-flight one six times between 1985 and 1988, providing 34 goals between them. And it was Oxford who got off to the brighter start within three minutes of their first meeting since 2001.

Jamie Cook played Constable into the box after two minutes, George Pilkington barged him down, and referee Brendan Malone awarded a penalty.

James Constable
Constable's goal came just a minute after his missed penalty

Constable stepped up to take the spot-kick only to see it saved well by Mark Tyler. But last season's top scorer took just 60 seconds to atone for the home side.

From Matt Green's break down the right, Constable fired home from six yards for his sixth goal of the season.

Luton were on the ropes and, 10 minutes later, Cook doubled their lead with a stunner on his first ever home game at the Kassam Stadium.

The Witney-born player left Oxford for Boston in 2001 and almost quit football but has worked his way back up, joining the U's last week from Crawley, and taking a pay-cut in the process.

Constable refused to let the ball go out of play from a corner and Cook left a defender for dead with a brilliant turn before rifling home into the top corner from 25 yards.

Luton pressed for a way back into the game, centre-back Alan White firing over from eight yards out.

The Hatters' next chance again fell to the summer signing from Darlington but he headed wide from Tom Craddock's cross.

United suffered a scare when Damian Batt's poor header back almost led Craddock in, but goalkeeper Ryan Clarke saved his full-back's skin.


Luton continued to press after the break, Adam Newton causing Steven Kinniburgh problems on the right.

But that advantage was taken away from them when captain Nicholls was shown a straight red card for taking Green out, and they were forced to reshuffle.

Luton started to push again as things settled down, United keeper Clarke making a brilliant double save from Craddock before Mark Creighton cleared the danger.

As United launched an increasingly rare attack, Constable almost made it 3-0 from nothing but his shot from 18 yards out was deflected out by White for a corner.

And Tyler did brilliantly to deny Dannie Bulman, who thought he was in following a short back-pass.

The game was topsy-turvy and Luton could have set up an even tenser final seven minutes but Clarke did brilliantly to deny substitute George Donnelly.

And, with the final whistle beckoning, Tyler pulled off a fine finger-tip save to deny Adam Chapman, who had been set up by fellow substitute Alfie Potter.

Luton manager Mick Harford told BBC Three Counties Radio:

"It was an eventful night. Mark Tyler, who is a top goalkeeper, over the 90 minutes only had two shots to save. The game was lost in the first 10 minutes when we let them in with two goals.

"After that we controlled the game from start to finish in my opinion. Even when we only had 10 men we created 17 or 18 chances. At the moment we're just not sticking the ball in the back of the net.

"I believe we'll finish above Oxford this season, and if we do, we'll win the league."

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Batt, Creighton, Foster, Kinniburgh, Bulman, Murray, Clist, Green (Chapman 67), Constable (Midson 82), Cook (Potter 89).
Subs Not Used: Turley, Sandwith.

Booked: Cook, Batt.

Goals: Constable 5, Cook 16.

Luton: Tyler, Keane, Pilkington, White, Blackett (Murray 46), Jarvis, Nicholls, Hall, Newton, Gallen, Craddock (Donnelly 73).
Subs Not Used: Gore, Howells, Basham.

Sent Off: Nicholls (56).

Booked: Jarvis, Pilkington.

Attendance: 10,613

Referee: Brendan Malone (Wiltshire).

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see also
Oxford boss praises Luton quality
07 Sep 09 |  Oxford Utd

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