Date:Wednesday August 23 2006
The Memorial Stadiium
22 August 2006 7-45 pm
The Memorial Stadium is aptly named, as it resembled a mausoleum last night with 2882 patrons dotted about the ground.
Despite saying that he would not field a weakened team Mike Newell made no fewer than six changes to the side that drew with Stoke City on Saturday. It's not that I disagree with the principle of resting players to give other squad players much needed match practice, but it was clearly a weakened side.
David Bell, Keith Keane, Ahmet Brkovic, Adam Boyd, Dean Morgan, and Stephen O'Leary all got starts for the first time this season.
Luton got off to a flyer with a flowing passing move which took us back to the heady days of the eighties, when a string of passes finished with a neat one to Boyd from O'Leary, and Boyd turned and drove home from the edge of the box. Barely 2 minutes had gone and it looked as though a calculator would be needed to keep the score!
Well, it didn't quite turn out that way, and the calculator stayed in its box for another 120 minutes!
Bristol Rovers, struggling in League two currently, showed some resolute defending as Luton strolled around apparently believing that the game was won, and while some players put in the effort, many did not, which is strange considering that six of them should have been trying to show the boss that they ought to be starting every match.
Despite his goal, Boyd still looked off the pace; Brkovic was hit and miss; Keith Keane looked a capable replacement at full back; Dean Morgan looked useful; Stephen O'Leary looked stronger than the last time he graced the town first team; and David Bell was probably just about man of the match.
Luton had most of the possession, but the last ball was lacking and the sharpness did not seem to be there for too many players.
In the second half, The Pirates seemed to have decided to go for it, as they were only a goal down, and they gave some problems to the Town defence. On the hour, a Haldane pull-back left Walker in the clear to slot it past Beresford from 15 yards, to equalise.
Mike Newell began to send on the cavalry in Carlos Edwards, Rowan Vine and Kevin Foley, and to be fair, they looked all the better for it, and began to pressurise the beleaguered home defence, but to their credit, they were very well organised and stood firm to the 90 minute mark.
In extra time, Luton struck the crossbar when Ahmet Brkovic latched on to Carlos Edwards' cross, and how he missed from the edge of the six yard box, only he will know, but neither team showed much appetite for the task in extra time barring the odd burst of effort, and the match was destined for penalties well before the end.
I can't remember Luton ever winning a match on penalty kicks, and if they have, it must have been a long while ago, so I was not expecting anything like the performance which followed.
Ahmet Brkovic netted superbly for 0-1, and Walker equalised. Rowan Vine slotted it into the corner of the net for 1-2, and Steve Elliott drilled one down the middle for 2-2. Kevin Foley scored positively for 2-3, but poor Andy Sandell tried to find the corner of the net, but placed it within the reach of Beresford, who was able to save it.
Dean Morgan had Hatters fans' hearts in their mouths as well as his own, when he drove the ball with ferocious power and watched it rising and looking for all the world to be going onto or over the bar, but it crashed against the underside of the bar and into the net for 2-4.
Byron Anthony managed to score to pull it back to 3-4, and it was left to Sol Davis to complete the job which he did with aplomb, leaving Luton 3-5 penalty winners. Five out of five! Impressive!
So Luton managed to squeeze through and will await the draw with interest, as some Premiership teams come into the competition in the second round. Dare we hope for a home tie against the yellow peril of Hertfordshire?
Whatever! They will need to sharpen up a lot if they are to give Wolves a game on Saturday.
Date:Wednesday August 23 2006
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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