Match Reports

Luton book moneyspinner

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In freezing cold weather Luton battled like demons to earn themselves a glamour tie live on Sky TV against Liverpool in January. Calvin Andrew was the goal hero but David Bell played out of his skin.

The Hatters were without Paul Furlong, suspended after five cautions and Marc Wilson could not play under the terms of his loan agreement, but every man played his part in a stirring performance.

Sam Clingan was suspended for Forest and rumours that Nathan Tyson was unfit after injury proved false as he lined up at the start.

Forest boss Colin Calderwood dropped Junior Agogo and brought in James Perch, and Neil Lennon came in for Clingan.

Kevin Blackwell played his favourite 4-5-1 formation and the opening exchanges were cagey from both sides.

David Bell looked well up for it and might have opened the scoring in the 8th minute when he ran at the Forest defence and got in a shot which was well covered by keeper Smith.

A route 1 move after Fojut headed clear to find Andrew deep in Forest territory came to nothing as Andrew’s chested pass was mishit wide by Edwards whose shooting boots have yet to return.

Most of the attacking was being done by the Town who were working hard to close down Forest and win possession as soon as they could. A luton corner found Matthew Spring on the edge of the box and he headed goalwards and as Bell tried to divert it into the net with a deft flick, the keeper did well to parry it; but Bell was first to react and sent the ball back on target only to see it blocked again as panicking Forest defenders threw themselves at it. Spring seized on the second rebound and fired across goal but just wide with Edwards arriving just too late to divert it.

Currie tried a curler which did not miss by much, and then Bell hit one of his trademark drives which Smith was glad to see go wide for a corner, after making a failed attempt to catch it.

Bell and Currie were causing the visitors’ defence all kinds of problems with some mazy runs and some decent crosses but the Town just could not forge the goal their play deserved.

On one such sortie, Bell went down the right flank and crossed low and invitingly for Currie but Lennon shielded him from getting in a shot and he slipped the ball to Andrew instead, but the youngster’s shot was saved by Smith.

As the half time whistle went Forest must have been pleased to be still in the game.

Blackwell’s half time team talk for once must have been easy to make. More of the same please and pray for a bit more luck in front of goal!

They didn’t have to wait very long as in the 53rd minute Luton secured a corner which was intended for Fojut at the far post but just out of his reach, and a poor defensive header found Spring who was lurking beyond him and chipped the ball back across goal to the waiting Andrew who headed home for a deserved lead.

They did not rest upon their laurels, however, and carried on taking the game to their opponents and might have had a penalty soon after when Lennon handled a Spring cross which looked to have been inside the penalty area but referee Mathieson had other ideas and awarded a free kick right on the edge of the area. Currie found Coyne with an accurate chip and Coyney hit it on the volley only to see it cannon off a defender to safety.

It was pretty breathtaking stuff, but 1-0 is not enough to feel comfortable and Forest came more into the game as they had ridden their luck and looked to catch Luton on the break. The Luton defence were cutting out most of the away side’s attacking moves but Lockwood brought down a difficult cross to control and shot quickly but Brilly was never going to be beaten by it. The only danger was that the Town keeper had so little to do he may have been caught cold.

His counterpart Smith was forced into an excellent save as Edwards struck the ball sweetly and accurately conceding a corner when a goal had looked likely.

Tyson and Grant, up front for Forest, had been well marshalled by Coyne and Fojut and full backs Perry and Jackson both had solid games making some crunching tackles to stop Forest’s forays down the wings.

It was a mark of the Town defenders’ supremacy that Calderwood replaced Tyson with Agogo and introduced Kris Commons for McGuigan.

It is hard to understand why Commons was not on at the start and his arrival would always bring new problems for the Town defence to solve.

Agogo looked lively and soon stamped his mark on proceedings with some showboat footwork. A clever flick found Perch who laid the ball off to Cohen who drew Brill off his line, worked the ball round him and side footed the ball towards the beckoning net but Chris Perry had seen the danger and came across from right back to clear just in front of the goal line.

Luton still endeavoured to get the killer goal and went close on a few occasions but Forest fancied they could snatch a replay and as Calderwood swapped to a 4-3-3 the visitors began to look far more dangerous.

Anthony Grant was brought on around the 80th minute to replace the worn out Bell, but Luton continued to defend well in numbers as the clock ticked round.

In the 3 added minutes at the end of the 90, Luton remained assured in defence and Forest looked a beaten force and the Hatters ran out deserved winners, much to the delight of Town boss Kevin Blackwell who was very emotional at the end after what was a very important game to have won, given their financial plight.

The TV rights for the Liverpool game will be £150K and £15K prize money for winning tonight, plus they will receive money from BBC radio if the match is broadcast live. That is quite a pay day; let us hope that the players get paid in time for Christmas on the strength of it!

Luton: Brill; Perry, Fojut, Coyne, Jackson, Bell (Grant 80), Edwards, Robinson, Spring, Currie, Andrew. Subs not used: Goodall, Talbot, Keane, McVeigh.

Nottm Forest: Smith; Chambers (Davies 83), Wilson, Breckin, Lockwood, Cohen, Lennon, Perch, McGugan (sub Commons 71), Tyson (sub Agogo 71), Holt. Subs not used: Morgan, Roberts.

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