Date:Saturday December 30 2006
29 December 2006 7-45 pm
Luton Town played some of their best football of the season against the league leaders but were mugged in the last minute of injury time to draw 2-2. The upside was a fantastic performance by the Town who fought and harried for every ball and shocked their hosts with incisive passing and good defending. The downside is that Markus Heikkinen will probably mis the rest of the season with a compoud fibula fracture. The injury was sustained in a crunching tackle with Fabrice Muamba. The referee saw nothing wrong with the challenge and Muamba, who did play the ball first, was visibly shaken at the sight of Heikkinen's injury.
Having come from behind to lead 2-1, Luton looked like taking all three points and it would have been nothing less than they deserved, but football is rarely like that and Birmingham, who had the rub of the green all night with the referee, also had the luck to equalise in the dying seconds.
Mike Newell made two changes to the side that lost 4-1 at Colchester on Boxing Day. Richard Langley and Warren Feeney replaced David Bell and Ahmet Brkovic who sustained knocks in that defeat.
Luton started well taking the game to Birmingham and denying them space when in possession. As early as the fourth minute Referee Phil Joslyn demonstrated that he was about to have a shocker when from a perfect position 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.
Mr Joslyn went on to make some very strange decisions affecting both teams but regrettably the more major ones to the detriment of Luton.
Lewis Emanuel drew a save from Maik Taylor with a snap shot and Carlos Edwards drove over the bar.
After 13 minutes, a great run down the left by Emanuel saw the left back cross sweetly from the bye-line and the ball dropped perfectly for Vine to pick his spot and direct a header towards goal. The ball hit the inside of the post and Upson got to the rebound just ahead of Feeney to cushion the ball to keeper Taylor.
s has been the fate of Luton this season, missed chances were punished when, against the run of play, Birmingham took the lead in the 31st minute in very fortunate circumstances. Stephen Kelly's cross was half blocked by Emanuel and looked to be going for a corner, but Bendtner backheeled the ball from the goal line into space, wrongfooting Luton's amply manned defence.Cameron Jerome turned on it and an attempted shot flew wide into the path of Gary McSheffrey. His shot hit Edwrds but fell kindly for him to prod the rebound into the Luton net.
It was a poor rewared for Luton's better football and commitment but heads did not drop. Luton dug in as Birmingham enjoyed a spell of confidence following the goal.
Gradually Luton reasserted their control and were rewarded with a deserved equaliser
when Richard Langley's free-kick hit the wall but was met by Barnett and at the second attempt sliced the ball to Vine who made no mistake in drilling it past Taylor's left hand.
Early in the second half Luton again started the better and were playing all the football but some tackles were getting a bit x-rated and referee Joslyn allowed many blatant fould both ways to go unpunished.
Lewis Emanueal tweeked a knee and Sol Davis replaced him before an overzealous challenge between Heiikinen and Muamba left the Finnish international with a broken leg.
Holmes replaced Emanuel and was yellow carded for his first challenge, which while late was nowhere nearly as bad as some that had not even elicited free kicks.It did not help that Nafti writhed around unnecessarily when there had been minimal contact. Vine also saw yellow for a tap on a defender's ankle after the ball had gone, and then amazingly, Nafti launched into a two footed tackle from behind on Edwards crashing into his legs, and saw incesed Luton players berate the offender. Nafti raised his hands and struck Langley in the face. Both offences are mandatory red card ones and referee Joslyn saw fit to punsish Nafti for those offences in the same way as he did Vine for a slight ankle tap, with a yellow card.
Warren Feeney went close with a shot from 20 yds which Maik Taylor saved, and the game went into a quiet period where neither side imposed themselves, but in the 77th minute Dean Morgan played in Warren Feeney down the left who turned then cut inside to fire home right-footed at the mear post to break his year-long duck. Perhaps now he will start to score a few more!
It was nothing more than they deserved for the sheer effort put in by every player, and as the game moved into four minutes of time added, largely for the safe removal of Heikkinen, Luton looked to have the points in the bag. However, with just two minutes remaining, another innouccuos 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 and yet many innocent ones were penalised. I doubt Mr Joslyn himself will be impressed when he watches the match on television.
Before the match I am sure Mike Newell would have been happy with a point, but losing the lead in the final minute of injury time was devastating.
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Date:Saturday December 30 2006
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Ex-Luton Manager Lands Top Job (Monday June 17 2013)
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Just a Reminder (Sunday June 16 2013)
Four Thousand! (Thursday June 13 2013)
Spiller`s Future? (Wednesday June 12 2013)
Disappointed or Expected? (Tuesday June 11 2013)
Martin Signs New Deal (Tuesday June 11 2013)
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