Writer: The New Ricky Hill
Date:Wednesday January 24 2007
23 January 2007 7.45pm
Cold but dry and still. A reasonably full KR despite the rearrangement and the wretched result on Saturdayn but helped by a good showing of Rangers fans.
Again some surprises in the Town side:
Foley Coyne Perrett Davis
Brkovic Langley Robinson Emanuel
So no place in the starting line-up for Spring (some uncertain rumours about ineligibility, though we couldn't fathom why) or, more peculiarly, Morgan.
From the off the game had a cracking pace to it - at least when Rangers had the ball - with quick and skillful midfield play and lots of dangerous QPR moves down the left flank, where Lee Cook yet again proved a constant danger. Foley struggled manfully - well boyfully is probably a more accurate description - and must have wished we still had the pace and effort of Carlos covering. I for one didn't think we would miss Carlos too much, but it is noticeable how we no longer seem to have the dependable right flank outlet from the keeper which was so often at the start of so many Town attacks (I accept that with Carlos involved hardly any of them actually achieved anything, unless the combination managed to free the tireless Vine down the channel).
The threat from Cook was increased by the ever-so tall and threatening Marc Nygaard and Dexter Blackstock front-two combination.
For most of the game Rangers dominated territory and possession and indeed crowd noise, with the Town trying to break with pace.
Several times Bell threatened, cutting inside and curling shots which were interesting without threatening goal, but most of the threats were at our end, and it was difficult to see the Town ever scoring.
Part of the Town problem was that Langley failed to grasp the concept of pace, and was repeatedly hustled off the ball as he twisted and turned rather than play the easy and obvious short pass to a team mate. He was so bad it prompted the Rangers fans to a chorus of 'Now you know why Langley's shit' which was hard to disagree with.
Bell put in a lion-hearted performance, trying to cover the same ground he would when in midfield, while also being the main strike threat. At times however this meant Bell, Boyd, Brkovic and Foley were all playing pretty triangles down the right trying to create the spce for a cross, leaving the penalty area threat waiting for the cross as Lewis Emanuel. Never going to work.
Half time came with no Luton chances of note, while Rangers had come very close indeed several times, with Dean Brill performing heroics to keep them out, and Coyne in particular looking bemused at the height of the front two.
The second half was little better, and Newell seemed to be oblivious to the gaping weakness in the middle caused by Langley. Robinson ran and ran, trying to also create an extra man in the box, but every time the attack broke down Rangers would quickly and precisely work the ball towards the left flank, and whenever it reached Cook you just knew that a dangerous cross would inevitably be winging its way into the Town area.
Occasionally we won a corner or free kick and we cheered, but only half-heartedly as we all knew that we had no chance of scoring from a set piece, nor to be honest in any other way. Maybe if we went to extra time then penalties ...? But we don't have anyone who can take penalties either now, do we?
With 15 minutes to go our awful run of injuries deepened, as Brkovic went down after a horrendous two-footed tackle. Cue mayhem as the entire 22 erupted in a brawl led by Chris Coyne. Once order was restored Coyne was booked, Rangers had just 10 men, and Brkovic disappeared down the tunnel on a stretcher to chants from a significant minority of Rangers fans of 'let him die'.
The interruption took at least five minutes, but even then the quick-thinking Town management were unable to react in time, Dean Morgan unready until a minute or so after Berky had disappeared. But then he emerged, joining Boyd up front with Bell taking up the right midfield role vacated by Brkovic.
Within a minute Morgan changed the game, a miscued shot from within the box on the right heading limply wide left. But somehow an appalling attempt at an unnecessary clearance saw the course of the ball diverted by 130 degrees, as it started a slow and bobbling run back to the right, past a despairing Simon Royce to roll into the net.
Inevitable really, that the goal was scored by Rangers, who had seemed the only team with any hope of scoring. Inevitable too that cheats who punch goals in will get their comeuppance.
So 1-0 with fifteen minutes to go, and Rangers down to 10 men and the Town at last having a threat up front.. The game was transformed as we started to belive in ourselves. Even Langley seemed to undergo a transfusion of urgency.
For 10 minutes we put Rangers on the rack, but with 5 minutes to go decided that we should shut up shop. Frustratingly this meant Emanuel and Bell playing keep ball in the right-hand corner rather than trying to swing a set piece across. And of course it quickly failed, as it always does, after raising tempers all round. To some extent it was understandable given how poor we had been up front, but it stil riles me to see anyone, and in particular us, play so negatively.
With 5 minutes of added time there was the odd panic in the Town defence, as well as Morgan being booked for dissent as he whinged at the ref after being given offside as he broke onto a lovely crossfield through-ball from Bell when he had been waiting and watching the Rangers line before making his move.
Then in the dying seconds he broke free again down the left, tore into the box and, instead of shooting checked inside the despairing centre back to create the perfect opportunity, 12 yards out with the keeper struggling to get across. Bang!
More like a ballistic missile than a bullet the ball streaked towards the goal. But unfortunately with the same trajectory as a ballistic missile, and Russia nearly went to DEFCON 2 as a consequence.
And that was it - Sol Davis was named MoM for some reason when again Bell was the better choice, but at least we have the chance to display our inadequacies in front of a nationwide audience on Saturday, with one less squad member than we had started with. Newell had said last week that even after the departures of Edwards and Vine the squad was as strong as ever - well a week and three injuries later it isn't looking that way.
Brill 7 a sound performance - give him more games chaps
Foley 5 struggled to cope with Cook and wasn't supported as Carlos used to
Coyne 4 slow, and unable to command in the air too
Perrett 6 I can't quoite believe it, but game after game Perrett is performing better than Coyne
Davis 6 more sensible display from Sol, but nothing particularly to write home about.
Brkovic 6 usual bustling performance from Berky, but the lack of pace and know-how up front gave the midfield no targets.
Langley 4 as poor as usual. To be fair he is at least consistently out of his depth.
Robinson 6 worked hard but again had no targets.
Emanuel 5 effort in spades but little to show for it
Bell 7 the best Town player for most of the game but out of position, and never looked like a forward.
Boyd 5 worked reasonably hard but made less impact than Feeney would have done. Seems skillful but with no pace, not even to create half a yard for a shot.
Morgan 8 like a jolt of electricity to the others when he arrived, pacey and tricky.
On reflection I can't believe just how badly we are missing Vine, Feeney and Edwards. We had no-one running hard in the channels - or indeed anywhere else for that matter - and were reduced to hopeful through balls or flicks which never came off. And with no height up front and our centre backs also coming off second best in the air I can't see where we are ever going to score from.
Rangers were by far the better side, with pace and trickery on the flank (left) as well as three hard-working, fast, and tall centre forwards. And they are below us in the table right now. I don't think they will be for long if we don't buy in some punch. These are desperate times and we need a stiker who can grab us 8 or so goals by the end of the season or we are heading down down down.
See you Saturday though, just in case ...
Date:Wednesday January 24 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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