Date:Thursday November 1 2007
31 October 2007 7-45 pm
Luton gave Everton a real fright night on Halloween, before succumbing to a scrappy goal in extra time.
Hatters boss Kevin Blackwell kept faith with the team that played so well on Saturday in beating Nottingham Forest and they did not let him down.
Everton may have been without some of their stars, but they still had a team to inspire awe in their third tier opponents, but it was Luton who dominated the opening exchanges.
They might have scored very early on when a well marshalled free kick routine saw David Bell strike the ball beautifully low through the wall but it was deflected marginally wide for a corner.
Spring hit a sharp shot over the Everton bar as Luton played some excellent football with their defence snuffing out any threat on the break by some speedy Everton players.
It was fully ten minutes before The Toffees got a sniff of goal but Osman's volley went straight at Dean Brill.
Paul Furlong was winning headers and holding the ball up well but appeared to be struggling after 18 minutes and eventually had to go off with a thigh strain on 20 minutes. Youngster Calvin Andrew replaced him and played one of his best games in a Town shirt, but just lacked the experience when under pressure to make the telling pass.
A period of stalemate ensued with Luton keeping their illustrious opponents at bay and with Jarislaw Fojut playing out of his skin and dominating the increasingly frustrated Anichebe.
On the half hour a quick break with some clever one touch football saw Osman in space but although he made good contact the ball slid agonisingly wide.
Currie was making his usual step overs and crosses but the Everton defence stood firm until Currie robbed Stubbs and whistled in a curling cross but the quick change of the direction of play had not allowed anyone to get forward in time to meet it.
As the half time whistle loomed the ball was whisked wide to Anichebe and as Fojut bore down on him he lost his footing on the slick surface which was enough for Anichebe for the first time to get past the Polish defender and get to the by line. However it was good to see Chris Perry react quickly to the young defender's slip and cut across from right back to cover the cross to McFadden and make a great tackle to avert the danger.
Luton fully deserved to go in level at half time and it was difficult to criticise any Town player in an excellent effort.
Bell started the second half with a cracking drive just wide and then referee Tanner who looked as though he had been under orders not to get his cards out, made an unfortunate error, when Pienaar blatantly used his arm to control the ball and the Luton players stopped expecting the whistle, but Pienaar was allowed to continue and the first to react was Fojut, who was slightly late in his challenge, but considering that Carsley hadn't even been spoken to for two scything tackles from behind into players'legs, Fojut's yellow card seemed a bit harsh.
The referee's error was almost compounded when the free kick led to Osman getting a yard of space to fire in a shot but it was always going over the bar.
Just before the hour a hoofed clearance was allowed to bounce by Lescott and Edwards got goal side of him and as he raced into the box the ball just got away from him and a cheeky nudge from the recovering Lescott was enough to unbalance the Welshman.
It was noticeable that Everton's defensive shape was always kept and it always looked favourite to clear when long balls were pumped forward by Luton. At the same time Everton's class going forward began to show against some tiring Luton legs. Fojut was the exception and kept going throughout the game.
Luton conceded a silly free kick about 20 yards out and Stubbs drove the ball through the wall but fractionally wide with Brill scampering across goal in an effort to get close to it.
For a while it began to look as though Luton had given their all as the away side began to make more regular forays forward and might have scored on a few occasions but shots were drifting inches wide.
Neville, who had riled the home faithful with his whining every time he was tackled, shot fiercely but waywardly until the ball was deflected goalwards and the falling Brill managed to hook the goal-bound ball clear with his trailing leg.
Joleon Lescott got forward in support and was allowed to run and run until he ghosted past Perry and shot wide with the easiest opportunity of the night.
A bizarre header from Jagielka seemed to have no chance of making it past a tangle of bodies and feet in the penalty area but it squeezed past all the obstacles and inadvertantly nutmegged Brill and at full stretch, the covering Spring hooked it off the goal line with the anxious Luton supporters' eyes immediately focussing on the lino, half expecting him to raise his flag to indicate the ball was over the line - it was that close! However, he waved away the Everton appeals for a goal and play continued.
The tiring Hatters began to rally for a last gargantuan effort and a corner from Currie curled manacingly acros goal and Andrew just failed to get a significant touch with his head and the ball cannoned clear.
With ten minutes left Osman again got free but his shot was scuffed and saved by the relieved Brill.
With the crowd anxiously looking at their watches Luton got a corner, and a well worked routine from the training ground saw Coyne peel off well wide of goal at the back post and a long corner kick found him perfectly and he headed it across goal to the onrushing Andrew but he turned it into the side netting.
Everton boss David Moyes was looking very uneasy on the bench and brought on three of his star studded substitues in Cahill Graveson and Vaughan but they were unable to unsettle the home team and Luton had hung on for the draw and well deserved the result.
Extra time was very cagey from both teams and the ball was rarely out of the midfield for seven or eight minutes, but a very humorous suicidal backpass to Wessels caused the Everton keeper to panic as the high ball bounced just as the keeper slipped, with Edwards, who was limping quite badly from an earlier knock, bore down on him. Unfortunately for th Town, the keeper was lucky enough to find the bounce of the ball in his favour as it came down from the second bounce into his arms and not behind him, or Edwards would have had a simple task.
Everton were still looking classy in possession and when they were awarded a corner on 100 minutes, Graveson took it from under the SKF clock and it seemed to have passed right across the face of goal to safety as so many before it had done, but Cahill came in on the far post. Unluckily for the Town his contact on the ball was not good and instead of striking it correctly which would have given Brill a good chance as he was in a good position, the ball bounced downwards off Cahill and up towards the roof of the net and Brilly could only palm it into the net. It was less than the gallant Town players deserved and Everton were very lucky to be in front, but you had the feeling that we had neither the guile or strength up front to fashion an equaliser.
The Hatters threw caution to the wind as Dean Morgan and Paul McVeigh were introduced to the action.
Coyney got forward and had a crack from distance which was not too far off target but Everton were very professional in wasting time and holding on to the ball and little opportunity was there for the Town to get back into it before half time of extra time, but the Town boss threw on Morgan and McVeigh in an effort to instil some strike power.
Surprisingly, Luton found some strength in their old legs and set about attacking the Everton defence at every opportunity and McVeigh hit a shot very sweetly which may have troubled Wessels if only he had hit the target.
Everton got a lucky bounce in their own half and looked to have capitalised on their fortune, moving the ball beautifully through the centre of midfield and a chip over the defence saw Vaughan as odds on favourite to race through the Town defence in pursuit and finish the tie off. Old head Chris Perry was well aware of it and made the most blatant professional foul I have ever seen in 49 years of supporting the Town when he simply ran across the young speedster stopping him in his tracks and earning the inevitable yellow card. Fortunately it was around the centre circle and there were Town defenders in proximity but I doubt anyone would have caught him if he had got through the gap.
As the clock ticked on McVeigh struck again and this time it was on target and although he beat the keeper he did not beat Lescott who cleared it off the line. Everton broke again and Cahill was caught yards offside and upset the Luton fans again. As Brill came out to take the kick, Cahill lobbed the ball goalwards from 40 yards after the whistle, and Referee Tanner gave him the yellow card to whistles of the Luton fans' derision.
At the death, Morgan crossed after some clever footwork and Andrew made a diving header which from behind him had goal written all over it, but he cannot have got a firm contact because as the main stand supporters began to rise to salute the equaliser there was a slight delay and the keeper was able to dive on the ball as it was going in at the far post. Bizarre again!
Luton: Brill, Goodall, Perry, Coyne, Bell, Currie (Morgan 104), Robinson, Edwards (McVeigh 104), Spring, Furlong (Andrew 20), Fojut
Subs not used: Hutchison, Jackson
verton, Wessels, Lescott, McFadden (Vaughan 71), Stubbs, Jagielka, Neville, Valente, Pienaar (Gravesen 95), Osman, Carsley, Anichebe (Cahill 78)
Subs not used: Yakubu, Howard
Date:Thursday November 1 2007
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