Match Reports

Luton win away at last!

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The Hatters finally managed an away win as Matthew Spring slammed in a free-kick from 30 yards with almost the last kick of the match at Vale Park. Two minutes fifty seconds of the 3 minutes injury time added had passed when Spring unleashed a do-or-die attempt to snatch the points.

It is only the second time Luton have won away in 2007 and the first of this season.

The Hatters made 3 enforced changes from the last game, as ‘the Bristol 3’ were suspended. Grant and Robinson were suspended for 3 and 1 matches respectively, and Coyne having failed with an appeal against his sending off, had his 1 match ban doubled to 2 for what the FA described as a frivolous appeal.

The FA seriously need to clean up their act, or grow some balls when dealing with the Premiership, because upon checking their disciplinary records there are several examples of lower league players having the same result as Coyne, but last week saw several Premiership players sent off and of all their appeals, some of which were obviously correct decisionsand all denied by the FA, not one was given an increased sentence. In fact I could not find an instance where a Premiership player has lost an appeal and had his sentence increased. There is one rule for the Premiership and one for everyone else.

Keane Talbot and Currie came into the side, in a 4-4-2 (Hurray!) system.

Port Vale left out top scorer Luke Rodgers which was pleasing to see since he always scores against us!

Luton were quick out of the blocks at the start and many had only just settled in their seats when Jaroslav Fojut turned quickly on a loose ball in the box to strike home for a 1-0 lead in the third minute, after a Darren Currie free-kick from the right. We are going to miss that lad at both ends of the field when he returns to Bolton after the New Years Day match.

The goal spurred Port Vale into some industrious work going forward and the Town defence had some pressure to deal with but did their jobs very well. Willock was a handful and Glover and Rocastle tested Keane’s mettle on several occasions.

On 17 minutes Danny Whitaker tested brill with a snap shot but the youngster got down well to save, but a hopeful cross which sailed bizarrely in the raging wind to find its way to the back post left Brill exposed. Glover latched on to the ball and fortunately seemd in two minds as his sweetly struck volley was too wide of the far post to score and too powerful for the quickly arriving Willock to reach.

Brill continued to show his recent good form and saved well from another Willock speculative effort from outside the box.

The rain was driving down and being blown around in the wind and ball control was difficult but Luton began to get control of the game, firstly by getting a grip on midfield with Spring once again showing strength and an eye for a pass.

David Bell made a good run and chipped the ball perfectly onto the head of Edwards and his firm header was saved well by Anyon, although it was almost straight at him, when a yard of so either side would have been a goal.

Luton totally dominated the last ten minutes of the first half with Port Vale’s defending bordering on the desperate at times, and Anyon was a mixture of fabulous, fortunate, and flapping at various times, particularly from a succession of corners as the fourth official showed 2 minutes extra to be played.

Port Vale would have snatched your hand off to be going in only one down while the barrage of pressure was on, but ironically one of Anyon’s flaps knocked a corner clear and it fell to possibly the only home player free around the box, and he hooked it first time into the Luton half where in the weird wind it swirled and came down beyond the Town defence and the strong and very swift Willock was onto it in a flash and caught Brill out by hitting it early from just inside the box as the young keeper came out to try to close him down.

So after having most of the play Luton had to settle for 1-1 at half time.

As the players re-emergered for the second half, the rain was coming down in torrents and the playing surface began to hold water making it even more difficult to play good passing football and the wind was still swirling around but this half it was behind the Town.

Anyon started the second half with a good save, again from Edwards and another from a Bell flick from a corner by Currie.

Willock struck a powerful shot for Vale which had Brill scampering across goal but it was always going wide, but the Town really had not got to grips with the threat of Willock who had the defence nervously backing off whenever he started a run.

Vale’s Talbot played a lovely through ball leaving the defence flat footed for Willock to run onto and clear of the defence. However, his control just deserted him and he took one touch too many and Brill came off his line like a train to smother the ball a split second before Willock could regain control.

This was an uncomfortable period for the Town and they were rueing the missed chances of the first half as Vale took control. However, the Town defence superbly marshalled by Perry in Coyne’s absence, stuck to their task and as the game wore on despite substitutions from both sides, neither really came close to breaking the deadlock until two minutes and some into the three minutes added time at the end of 90 minutes, Vale’s Talbot was adjudged to have handled and Spring placed the ball some thirty yards out and with the wind behind him smashed an absolute corker past the bemused Anyon to steal the points.

Port Vale: Anyon, McGregor, J Talbot, Pilkington, Lowe, Rocastle (P Edwards 78), Salmon (Rodgers 63), Hulbert, Glover, Willock, Whitaker

Luton Town: Brill, Goodall, Perry, Bell, Currie (McVeigh 88), D Edwards, Currie, Edwards, Talbot (Furlong 86), Andrew, Keane, Spring, Fojut

Subs not used: Hutchison, O’Leary, Emanuel

Subs not used: Martin, O’Loughlin, Richards

anager Kevin Blackwell commented in his after match press conference:

‘It’s the away win we have been looking for in a while. I think anybody that has seen us over the last six to eight weeks will know that we have been getting better as a team.

‘It’s one defeat in 11 games now and had it not been for the ten point deduction, we would be nicely placed in the table.

‘It was a fantastic attitude from the players. I felt at half-time we were thoroughly in control.

‘I was disappointed with the goal we conceded and in the second-half we had to scrape and get back on top. Overall I felt we shaded the game, in what was played in atrocious weather conditions.’

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