Date:Sunday June 10 2007
So after Luton`s 0-0 draw with Southend, Coventry were the visitors. They came in even worse form than Luton and were easily turned over 3-1. Was this to be the turning point we were waiting for? Could we build a little momentum over Christmas to set us up for the run in?
As it turned out - no. The win over Coventry seemed to relax Mike Newell, who was confident that they would now push on, and there was no danger to their status.
On Boxing Day, a visit to in form Colchester, in a run of 9 straight home wins saw the Town dominate the game for long periods, miss a hatful of chances and gift four goals to the Layer Road club. A late Vine penalty did nothing to soften the blow that once again, inept defending had cost us a game we could so easily have won well.
With their away form and confidence in tatters, the last thing you want is an away fixture against the League leaders on Sky TV but that is what they had to contend with on the following Friday evening.
With great trepidation, expecting an absolute hammering on Sky at Birmingham City, Luton were looking to halt a run of 8 straight away defeats, and the Hatters rewarded us with some of their best football of the season. Unfortunately not the same could be said of referee Phil Joslyn, who had an absolute shocker.
As early as the 4th minute he failed to award Luton a penalty which would have been given 99 times out of 100 by any referee, when Jaidi pushed and then tripped Langley as he bore down on goal, signalling the start of a poor day all round for the official, who went on to make some very strange decisions affecting both teams but regrettably the more major ones to the detriment of Luton.
Mr Joslyn aside, Luton`s host of missed chances were punished when, against the run of play, Birmingham took the lead in the 31st minute in very fortunate circumstances when a Jerome shot was mishit to McSheffrey and his shot was poor but luckily rebounded to him for him to prod home. Cue the avalanche? Not so.
Luton rallied and from a free kick by Langley, the ball found Barnett who took two attempts to slice it to Vine who made no mistake in drilling it past Taylor's left hand.
Luton carried the momentum into the second half and were by far the better side, with Birmingham resorting to some very tough and illegal challenges to try to stem the Luton flow. Luton began to respond with some heavy tackling of their own and many x-rated challenges from both teams went unpunished as the referee began to lose control.
Muamba made the worst challenge of the match leaving Heikkinen writhing in agony with what at the time was thought to have been a broken leg but proved to be less than that subsequently. Once more though the referee saw nothing wrong with the challenge.
Luton continued to press the hosts and in the 77th minute the prolific (not) Warren Feeney was set free by Morgan and the Irishman broke his year long duck with a fine finish. Would this finally set him on the road to scoring regularly? In short - no! but it was great at the time.
As Luton ran down the clock leading 2-1 at St Andrews, Birmingham looked to have nothing left to challenge the Hatters, but as we all knew, while there was time left, Luton were capable of conceding. However, this time it was all the doing of Mr Joslyn and little to do with poor defending. With just two minutes remaining, an innocuous challenge drew a home free kick and from that move the ball fell wide left to the Little Sheff. His cross was headed on to the back post where Jaidi climbed all over Langley to head down into the path of Danns who drove it fiercely into the roof of the net. Yet again, a blatant foul went unpunished while many innocent ones were penalised. I doubt Mr Joslyn himself would have been impressed when he watched the match later on television. So mugged again!
At the turn of the year Luton had fallen to 19th in the table and were only 6 points clear of the relegation zone.
The new year began with a bore draw at home to Cardiff and then the next day, just two days into the transfer window, Carlos Edwards was on his way to Sunderland for a measly £1.4 million. History now shows what a good piece of business that was for Sunderland. Leeds were reported as bidding for Dean Morgan but nothing materialised.
Michael Leary went off to Brentford on loan and Cardiff bid for Rowan Vine but their offer was not in the ball park of Luton`s valuation of the striker.
The FA Cup third round tie at QPR finished 2-2. Despite taking the game to the home side, Luton looked frail in the defence of set pieces and just as they did at Kenilworth Road, QPR punished that deficiency.
After 32 minutes, possibly the biggest player on the pitch, Dexter Blackstock, managed to hide in Luton's penalty area under his cloak of invisibility, while Cook took a corner kick, then emerged as the ball arrived to head it into the net with the town defence looking at each other with 'where the hell did he come from?' eyes. Guess what? He was there all the time! However, Brkovic equalised.
Just after half time, Warren Feeney continued his deluge of goals with his second in a month. Luton remained in control and never looked like losing the lead but again, we all know that a goal against was rarely far away this season! Also in matches between QPR and Luton, controversy is rarely far away either and so it proved.
In the 76th minute a goalmouth scramble saw Beresford make two saves from close in, and then as he rolled on his back he came up again to flick the ball in the air with his hands. As one of a few Town players on the goal line went to hoof the ball clear, Baidoo clearly punched the ball from waist high into the net.
Despite Luton protests it seemed that the referee and his assistant were the only two people in the stadium who failed to spot it and a replay was required.
West Brom declared an interest in signing Vine and Barnett, but were priced out of considering Barnett for very long. However rumours were that they were very close to signing Vine.
Luton were alleged to have been trailing Pawel Abbott but again news on the subject dried up. However, Tomas Sowunmi, a Hungarian with some good reports about him, played for the reserves on trial but was declared as no better than we have at the club. He managed to secure a contract in the Scottish Premier League, so he can`t have been too bad!
More bids for Vine and Barnett were turned down but an offer for Vine of £2.5 million plus an extra half million if they were promoted was accepted from Birmingham City.
So Luton faced West Brom the next day without Vine in the side as Vine was at Birmingham City signing on the dotted line.
Peter Holmes, meanwhile joined Chesterfield on loan.
At West Brom, Luton took the game to their hosts as they had been doing for some months now, flattering to deceive. They were undone on half time and went in a goal down. They never gave up however, and turned the match round with a cracking goal by Keith Keane, the goal of the season. Warren Feeney scored again, - no surely not - trust me he did! Luton were holding on to the 2-1 lead with some ease, and as West Brom tried to pressurise, nothing seemed to be happening for them, and the Hatters` defence stood firm. But this is Luton!
If the defence doesn`t let the side down, the referee does! After a clearance by Barnett, Bell was chasing a loose ball with Paul Robinson. Robinson flailed an arm backwards catching Bell under the rib cage and causing him to fall to the ground winded. Firstly, it should have been seen by the assistant referee, and a free kick awarded to Luton, and, at the very least, Robinson knew he had done it, accidentally or not, and showed a lack of sportsmanship by continuing with play, with the Luton man down.
He managed to get the ball into the danger area and Kevin Phillips took possession in the penalty area but was surrounded by Luton players as he miscontrolled the ball and struggled to regain it. With defenders looking as though they were about to clear he stuck out his left foot and sent the ball through the crowd of players past the unsighted Kiely.
It was a travesty of justice but Luton had to get on with it. However, the goal put new life into the Baggies and as Jared Hodgkiss went towards the Luton left bye-line Sol Davis made a desperate challenge which the young defender, on for the injured Curtis Davis, rode well but the ball went out for what would have been a goal kick.
The referee however, awarded a free kick much to Davis' dismay and his comment earned him a yellow card.
From the free kick Phillips came in at the far post and headed into the top right corner. 3-2 and that was that. Yet again the Town snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Brian Stein announced that the reason for Adam Boyd`s failure to achieve full fitness was down to a blood disorder, which the club was trying to help him overcome, and to a mixed reception the news broke that Luton had re-signed Matthew Spring from the Hertfordshire club.
At this point I wrote an article, which contained a fearful suggestion that the sale of Vine and Edwards may prove suicidal, but hoped that it would not prove to be so!
Click here to read article
Luton signed Drew Talbot from Sheffield Wednesday for £250K which drew some stunned remarks from supporters who did not see him as a replacement for the prolific Rowan Vine.
The point of the season when I began to despair, teamwise, was when Barnsley came and turned them over 2-0 at home. Luton barely raised the enthusiasm to turn out and we all feared the worst.
The FA Cup replay against QPR saw the Town progress by virtue of a Dean Morgan goal, but also saw an enormous brawl after an outrageous two-footed tackle sent Brkovic to hospital, to be out of football for months. This brought Blackburn to Kenilworth Road for the fourth Round, to humble the Hatters 4-0, in a match, which was an embarrassment to watch.
Luton and QPR were charged by the FA for the brawl, and Luton were said to be close to signing, on loan, Southampton striker Leon Best who was scoring for fun for Yeovil on loan with the West Country side.
When that failed to materialise, Luton signed Bjorn Runstrom, reported as being a 'Fulham starlet` but he never really managed to make enough of a difference in his extended stay.
Coventry City, who couldn`t buy a victory, hosted the Hatters next and despite dominating the game for long periods, Luton went down to the only goal of the game.
Two away draws at Stoke and Leicester, revived our hopes somewhat, and it looked as if 5 at home in the next 7 matches would be the period when we would drag ourselves to safety.
It began with a stirring victory at home over Sheffield Wednesday, and five points from their last three games seemed to be enough to spearhead the side into some sort of momentum in a push for survival.
Six straight defeats including an unbelievable four straight home defeat sequence, left the Town struggling in the relegation zone.
After the last of these, Mike Newell saw fit to criticise the running of the club and suggest that the club needed to be investigated, and in particular had another pop at Chairman Bill Tomlins. This brought about the inevitable sacking of Newell and Kevin Blackwell was appointed as Manager.
At this point Cardiff City paid Luton to take Warren Feeney on loan. feeney said he wanted to help Cardiff push on to the Premiership by scoring some goals. We laughed! Cardiff didn't as neither Feeney scored nor Cardiff pushed on to the Premiership. However, they must have seen somethign in him as they have subsequently signed him full time when his contract at Luton expired.
In his first game in charge, a creditable goalless draw at Burnley looked promising, but it was followed by another four straight defeats and it was game over.
When it did not matter, Luton took Southend to the cleaners at Roots Hall, but the Town saved the worst to last, and went out of the Championship 5-0 at home to a Sunderland side celebrating promotion to the Premiership, outrageously, many of them in amongst Town fans as the club saw fit to sell tickets to Mackems in the home section of the ground. It was very fortunate indeed that there was little trouble as a result.
Opinion on the season, and close season review to date will follow in due course.
Date:Sunday June 10 2007
Hatters Sign Duo (Tuesday May 21 2013)
Hatters Sign Tigers Striker (Sunday May 19 2013)
Luton to Entertain Aston Villa (Friday May 17 2013)
Tyler`s Staying (Friday May 17 2013)
I Wish It Was Us! (Wednesday May 15 2013)
Favourites (Again)! (Monday May 13 2013)
Keeper Ranks Bolstered (Monday May 13 2013)
Nielson Finds New Club (Monday May 13 2013)
Welcome to the Mad World! (Monday May 13 2013)
I Felt Physically Sick! (Monday May 13 2013)
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