Hull holed as Brkovic strikes at the death

Luton Town 1 - Hull City 0

A breathless last-gasp winner from Ahmet Brkovic helped Luton Town secure three vital points in this tense top-of-the-table clash with their promotion rivals Hull City as the League leaders shed the lethargy of recent weeks to put a foot in the door to the Championship.

A breathless last-gasp winner from Ahmet Brkovic helped Luton Town secure three vital points in this tense top-of-the-table clash with their promotion rivals Hull City as the League leaders shed the lethargy of recent weeks to put a foot in the door to the Championship.

With the game seemingly destined to end in stalemate, Brkovic, Luton's free-scoring Croatian midfielder, rose to head the winner with seconds to spare, sending Kenilworth Road into delirium at the prospect of a long-awaited return to the second tier of English football.

"We are delighted," said the Luton manager, Mike Newell. "Over the 90 minutes I think that it was deserved. The first-half performance was as good as we have played for weeks. They were a little dangerous on the break at times in the second half but you could not fault any of our players. But we are not getting carried away and realise it is just three points."

The two sides may lead the division, but with just two wins between them this year, all the pre-match signs suggested they were in danger of faltering under the pressure of expectation

With the title up for grabs, both were keen to rediscover some consistency and a scrappy and tight first half underlined the importance of the fixture.

The diminutive Brkovic put a header wide of the target after 14 minutes with Enoch Showunmi and Steve Robinson continuing to test Hull's resilience as Newell's men attacked in swift surges.

With Hull missing their 23-goal leading scorer Stuart Elliott through injury, their attack posed no real threat and lacked any conviction against a Luton side themselves missing their own leading marksman, Steve Howard, through suspension.

Hull never looked like displaying the attacking prowess that earned them a 3-0 win over Luton at the KC Stadium in October, but a timely clearance from the Luton defender Alan Nielsen was needed on 70 minutes after Delroy Facey had slashed a dangerous looking pass across the face of Marlon Beresford's goal. At the other end, and with the clock ticking away, the home side continued to spurn chances.

But in a pulsating finale, Luton made the breakthrough that had long been on the cards when Robinson, a fount of ideas all afternoon, crossed for Brkovic to head powerfully past Boaz Myhill.

The Hull manager Peter Taylor said: "Luton were the better team in the first half but I thought we were terrific in the second half. I think that we were unfortunate to lose the game."

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