Good News and Bad News
Here we are again, but seven days on, in a little more buoyant mood.
I e-mailed Mike Newell over last weekend to give my opinion on Marlon's sending off, and to say that under the Laws of Football it was certainly not a red card offence. On Monday morning Luton appealed; whether my e-mail had any bearing I don't know, as I received only a brief message saying ‘Thanks for the e-mail'. The good news is that the FA agreed with my opinion and allowed the appeal – the bad news was that the normally mild mannered keeper allegedly used foul and insulting language to the match referee and has been charged under FA Rule E3 that – ‘upon receiving red card, used abusive and/or insulting words towards a Match Official'.
If he did he was foolish. It gains you nothing and can cost you. Players should accept decisions and, if they have a case, appeal against it. It is easy for professional players, as there is TV evidence in every game. If the ref gets it wrong, it is there on the screen.
Mike Newell was charged under the same FA rule for his observations to the fourth official and afterwards to the referee, when he was sent to the stands at Preston. Last time, he was warned as to his future behaviour, so I guess his wallet is due for picking and Lord Michael may get the pleasure of sitting amongst us peasants in the main stand for a few games!
I also had a feeling that, after the disappointment of Cardiff that Luton might just 'pull a rabbit out of their butt', as the Americans say, and give us a performance against Reading. However, victories like this one and performances like the Liverpool game, though, make defeats at the hands of Crewe and Hull etc., all the more frustrating.
The Luton News reported that Sheila Watson-Challis e-mailed to say that Junction 10 was not yet dead and that they have other land available, which the council have allegedly said could be ready with a stadium on it before the mooted Junction 12 option.
This has since been repudiated by Mr Tomlins and the council have allegedly denied making such claims. As long as we get a new stadium, in Luton, within a reasonable timescale and not involving ground sharing with MK Wimbledon, I don't care which landowner is involved.
Chris Coyne has been playing with a knee injury all season and probably needs an operation. He was due to have a scan this week to determine whether he can recover sufficiently to see the season out and then have the op or whether he needs it right away. Meanwhile, Davis Bell could miss the rest of the season with a cartilage/knee ligament problem, which definitely requires an operation.
My sources tell me that Luton were aware that he had a knee problem but they were hoping it might last the season. Well, it didn't! Shades of Unders? What is it with Rushden and Diamonds players who sign for us?
Sol Davis returned against Cardiff for a cameo and then lasted 80 minutes against league leaders Reading on Friday. My goodness didn't it make the left side look stronger defensively? It's a pleasure to see you back Sir Sol!
Steve Robinson is easing his way back to fitness and should be available soon and Paul Hughes is still making progress, but whether he'll ever feature in a Luton Shirt again is still in the balance.
Cardiff and Reading
Luton played well for the majority of the Cardiff match and despite twice being ahead by two goal margins, surrendered those advantages to take a point as Cardiff upped their game and equalised. Cardiff might even have nicked it at the end but, what appeared to be a stonewall penalty claim, was turned down by the referee. You win some- you lose some, in fact, Howie might have had a penalty kick awarded even later than Cardiff's, but received the same reply from the ref.
The Reading game was different gravy! Despite going a goal down in 18 seconds, Luton came back and shocked the Berkshire side, who had gone 33 league games undefeated prior to this reverse. Luton were well worth their victory and scored some classic goals. However, they are falling back into that old Luton habit of a couple of seasons ago – conceding late goals. Even having controlled the Reading game for most of the match, they conceded a 90th minute goal, which left us on the edge of our seats for the four minutes of added time.
Once again, it appeared that a refereeing decision over a penalty claim went in Luton's favour, but having seen the TV coverage, the accidental contact on ‘Diver' Doyle was outside the area. However, even accidental contact is still a free kick, and, had the referee given the free kick he would almost inevitably have sent off Heikks as the last defender. If Doyle hadn't have dived full length with a double twist, tuck and pike before sprawling in the penalty area, he may have got the free kick outside the box. (I'm sure I saw referee Kevin Wright hold up five fingers on one hand and one on the other to indicate a mark of a perfect 6 for the dive!)
I have to say that I was impressed with the way Reading's players, management and fans took their defeat on Friday evening. Nice club! I hope they do well in the Premiership next season, and stay up so that we can beat them again the year after when we join them! (Maybe).
When you look at the league goal stats and see that Luton are the fourth highest scorers in the league, but the 3rd highest conceders, it doesn't take an Einstein to work out where the problems are. However much we love our players especially those who have got us to the Championship, it seems pretty clear that defensively, either the players are not up to this level or the defensive coaching isn't. Either way, Mike is going to have to address that aspect of the team in the summer break, or we may find ourselves in a relegation battle next year.
Having said that, in the season before promotion, Luton were conceding goals left right and centre and losing matches at the death, so maybe history will repeat itself and we might just ‘do a Reading' next season.
Leeds who are flying at home and a little suspect away. I think (and hope) that the victory against Reading might just give us a boost and we will get a draw.
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Have a good one!