Date:Sunday March 12 2006
11th March 2006 3 pm
Mike Newell made two changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Millwall last week with Leon Barnett coming in for Markus Heikkinen, who was suffering from tonsillitis, and Sol Davis returning from suspension at the expense of Ahmet Brkovic, who did not even make the bench. The postponement of the reserves fixture in midweek meant that Robinson and Bell were short of match fitness and Robbo missed out, while Bell secured a spot on the bench, and there was no place for Dean Morgan.
As early as the 7th minute, Luton were dealt a major blow with the loss of Kevin Nicholls, with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. He was replaced by David Bell who was keen to show what he could do, and looked a very useful acquisition.
The opening exchanges looked ominous, with Leicester taking the game to Luton, and while Luton responded well, it was Leicester who opened the scoring when Leon Barnett fell over leaving Matt Fryatt to run in on goal and place the ball past Beresford, after a searching ball from Williams.
Luton did not really put their game together in the first half, although they came more into the match the longer it went and were very unlucky to see a Howard header strike the post and come back into play, but unfortunately the ball fell kindly for the defence.
Rowan Vine was finding it difficult to get any service and was an onlooker for much of the half, and it was no surprise when Feeney replaced him at half time.
The half time talk must have been scathing again because as with many recent games, Luton looked a different proposition after the break.
Steve Howard's early header was saved by Paul Henderson, and then Feeney went through on goal, but the Irishman's touch deserted him and he was challenged by Stearman who may have fouled him, but the referee thought otherwise.
This was the catalyst for a period of sustained Luton pressure and Leicester looked short of ideas to break Luton's stranglehold. It was no surprise when, 8 minutes into the half, an Underwood corner was flicked on at the near post for Howard to head home at the back post, to equalise.
Luton continued to have more possession and created chances, but they went begging, while Leicester hung on and gradually got more into the game. Paddy McCarthy, returning from suspension, gave a man-of-the-match performance in defence, time after time breaking up promising Luton attacks.
Luton's cause was further hindered when Underwood was forced off by injury. He had been involved in much of Luton's good work, firstly on the left of midfield and then centrally when he took over Kevin Nicholls' role to allow Bell to play wide left. They never really looked the same potent force after he was replaced by Enoch Showunmi, as the shape went from the side.
Leicester had chances of their own, but rarely threatened the Town goal, and Luton should have wrapped up the points in the 71st minute, when good work by Edwards cause mayhem in the Foxes' penalty area and several Luton players tried their luck as the ball pinged around like the ball in a pinball machine.
On another day Luton's pressure in the second half would have netted two or three more goals, but alas, they got no joy in this game.
As both sides went for the win in the closing stages, it was end-to-end stuff, and just as it appeared to be calming down and both teams might settle for the draw, a cross cum shot by Welsh was diverted into the net by substitute O'Grady and there was no way back for Luton.
It was hard to take for the second week running, but the Town have got to maintain defensive concentration for 90 minutes not 85, and a draw would have been a fair return for Luton's superiority in the second half and Leicester's resolute rearguard action.
However, that was not to be; Leicester hung in when it mattered and took the chances when they came; also credit to them for always trying to play football, even when under pressure.
On the plus side, Warren Feeney looked lively and got into some good positions, but unfortunately was not sharp enough to provide the finish some of his good work deserved. However, this is hardly surprising, as he has not had too many minutes football of late, and his match fitness has suffered.
Mike Newell was disappointed with the performance and told lutontown.co.uk:
'We are disappointed really, we didn't play anything like we are capable of and we didn't really deserve anything.
'Leicester worked hard but that is the minimum you want from a team every week. I don't like to give credit just for a team working hard but they have got some decent players and they controlled the game for the first half-hour.'
Date:Sunday March 12 2006
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