Match Reports

Pride of Luton

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Can a game have ever meant so much – when actually it means so little? The pre-match speculation about Liverpool refusing to donate their share of the gate receipts has added extra spice.

And think back to ‘that game’ two years ago. We came so close, and despite the turmoil since then is our side actually any worse now? Let’s compare:

Talbot v Vine ….well Vine is better by a couple of years experience, but two years ago? A draw I think.

Andrew v Howard ….a fit fast and strong youngster learning by the game or a carthorse who nonetheless became a 100 goal legend at Kenilworth Road? Probably a draw too given how Andrew has improved of late.

Bell v Edwards (Carlos) …I would pick Bell any day

Spring v Robbo ….a walkover to Matt

Edwards (David) v Nico…close but Nico has it.

Currie v Brkovic …a draw

Keane v Foley …a draw

Coyne v Coyne …a draw

Perry v Heikkinen …Marcus wins

Goodall v Underwood …Unders wins

Brill v Beresford ….bye-bye Marlon

So 3-3 and 5 draws. Overall I think we are on paper at least as good, and Brill beating Beresford is after all the single most important position.

And what about Liverpool? No Gerrard, but then Fernando Torres is slightly better than Djibril Cisse. Truly frightening in fact and highlighting the inevitable vulnerabilty of the Town defence without Jaroslaw Fojut.

So then it comes down to management, tactics, and last but not least Lady Luck. Of course. So what would Rafa and Kevin decide?

For Liverpool a strong side:


Finnan Carragher Hyypia Riise

Benayoun Alonso Lucas Babel

Crouch Kuyt

So no Torres after all, not even on the bench! With that and Gerrard’s injury there must be a God.

And Blackwell seemed to have retained his faith in 4-4-2, the team, as hoped:


Keane Perry Coyne Goodall

Bell Edwards Spring Currie

Andrew Talbot

On the bench Furlong, Robinson, Jackson, Hutchison, O’Leary.

A great atmosphere for a change. SKY TV cameras with Martin Tyler and Andy Gray in the gantry, Jamie Redknapp and Mike Newell in the commentary box. Redknapp surprisingly admitting to being a Luton Town fan as a boy, watching David Pleat’s team. And Fabio Capello in the Directors’ box. What more could you – or indeed he – ask for?

There was a definite sense of urgency to the Reds, and with their first attack Babel sliced through the Town right flank like an electric carving knife, forcing Brill to make an early one-handed save low to his right as Keane and Perry watched bemused.

The Town responded straight away, earning the first corner after just 2 minutes. With no Fojut the threat was less than usual, but Liverpool packed the 18 yard box with all eleven players in a precedent for the afternoon, and it came to nought.

However the Town had the first real chance, Edwards beating the offside trap and running onto a neat chip through from Bell into the box. With only the keeper to beat you wondered, but he hit it straight at him and the chance was lost.

You couldn’t believe we would get too many chances, nor that we would be able to hold the Reds out. They were giving as good as they were getting, Dirk Kuyt hitting one golden chance over from 18 yards. The pace of their attacks was breathtaking to behold and the one touch football a joy. But then Peter Crouch would get involved, to loud cries of Freak, and you realised that they were, in fact, just Watford in disguise.

Somehow we held our own and created as much as the Reds.

From a ball down the left Talbot did Hyypia for pace on the outside then turned him beautifully on the goal line and headed for goal. But with no advanced support he fired in a low cross shot which the keeper forced out.

In the next move Spring picked the ball upon 25 and responded to the crowd urging him to shoot by going for it. He sliced the shot badly but it almost hit the outstretched toe of Talbot, unmarked and central.

From 20 minutes on the Town started to dominate, the team spreading the ball from one flank to the other, Currie, Spring and Bell strutting and Edwards pushing forward to link with the front two. It was enough to inspire a rendition of By Far the Greatest Team.

But to remind us of the dangers of complacency Liverpool broke with pace, and twice in two minutes Crouch had clear shots on goal from the edge of the box.

On 37 Drew nicked the ball from Hyypia and ran free on the edge of the box but got too excited and badly mishit (with his left foot admittedly) his shot.

Darren Currie against Xabi Alonso – no contest? Agreed, and after feinting one way then another Currie chipped a super cross into the box where somehow it passed through Talbot’s legs with the goal at his mercy.

But Drew was looking lively and a great turn past Carragher cross let him fizz a cross that eluded everyone 6 yards out and four feet high.

And out of nowhere a mild noise from the Scouser fans prompted a rendition of We Forgot That You Were Here.

Just before half time Xabi Alonso entered the ref’s notebook after tripping Edwards 25 yards out and central. Looked promising but Bell’s shot literally hit the roof.

And that was that for the first half, the 0-0 score not reflecting the Town’s superiority. A great hand for the team as they left the pitch. Newell and Redknapp unanimous that the Town were on top, but sceptical that it would finish that way.

The Town started the second half just as they ended the first, Spring, Andrew and Talbot combining well but failing to get a shot in.

But the early momentum was Red. Alonso in an amazing piece of skill dummied two Town players before setting Kuyt away on the right, his low cross shot across goal eluding all bar Keane who flicked the ball on to Benayoun and out from 7 yards.

Within a minute Riise hit a thunderbolt from 20 yards which took a deflection, and Brill stretched a right hand to palm it away as he fell left.

But the best chance of the game so far fell to Talbot. A beautiful chip from Currie and Drew headed over from 6 yards with the goal open. Andy Gray said that Drew will never ever ever get a better chance to score against Liverpool.

But then a scare at the other end as Dean Brill decided to take on Babel in the Town penalty area, and losing, before being rescued by Keane.

And end to end it remained as Talbot turned Carragher left side and squeezed a low cross in from eight yards which again had panic in the Reds defence as it crossed past them all.

What a great atmosphere as we all sang one song after another:

Premiership you’re having a laugh

Can you hear the Scousers sing

Your support is effin shit

Not a peep out of the Liverpool fans after 18 minutes.

Shall we sing a song for you?

The Reds were limited to hitting long balls out of defence in a desperate attempt to hit the Town on the break

Their defending was increasingly desperate too. First Riise tripped Talbot midway when the Scottish striker was through on goal free kick 22 yards and right. He was very lucky indeed to escape with a yellow card.

They mucked up the free kick completely but from the follow on play Currie hit a screamer of a volley which again somehow flashed across the face of a crowded goalmouth with no touch.

Rafa decided to change, well he had to do something as the SKY stats showed possession 56% to 44% in Luton’s favour. Babel off for Voronin.

The taunting continued with

You’re Worse Than Everton, You’re Not Very Good, and We’re Not Even Getting Paid. All absolutely justified.

And then disaster struck as Coyne, composed on the half way line, overran the ball and gave it away. Still not terrible as Perry attempted a header back to Brill, but sliced it and set Voronin away. Brill versus two Liverpool forwards … He saved Voronin’s shot but only to deflect it into the path of Crouch who made no mistake, steering the ball home from eight yards.

0-1 and completely against the run of play, from a freak defensive error.

At last the Scousers started to make some noise. But not for long as Talbot yet again ran at the Liverpool defence, this time at Finnan on the Red right. And again he fired in a tremendous cross to the near post where Edwards at full stretch and Riise dived in. Edwards couldn’t quite, but Riise could, and the combination of his boot and outstretched arm made sure and bundled it past a shell-shocked Itandje.

And KR erupted in belief and disbelief at the same time.

Xabi Alonso would not score from 60 yards this time, as Benitez decided to take him off for Mascherano. Andy Gray commented that Benitez is unhappy he is not being provided the funds for a permanent transfer of Mascherano, currently on a season-long loan. However as he also added that Liverpool have a squad of 60 and that Benitez has had a mere £160m to spend over the past three years it was difficult to feel too sorry for him, the little poppet.

Back to the game where Talbot was cynically tripped by Hyypia as he burst through once again. A booking again was a lucky result.

More meddling by Benitez, Benayoun off for El Zhar. But the clock ran out to a cheer as loud as KR has ever heard. The Town players swapped shirts and if you can tell anything from the way they left the pitch then what would you make of Spring and Coyne disappearing without so much as a glance at the fans?

And the super new PA started the joyous chorus, Que Sera Sera, and we all joined in.

Whatever will be, will be.


Brill 8 two great saves, one at the start of each half, kept us level at crucial times
Keane 8 super game and kept so close to Babel after that first minute scare that you forgot he was there
Perry 7 solid and cool but one poor header
Coyne 8 awesome game and kept Crouch shackled but also at fault for the goal
Goodall 7 confident and fault free
Edwards 8 his best game for ages, driving and being both a threat and a destroyer. Forced the own goal from Riise
Bell 6 struggled but double-teamed most of the game
Currie 7 strutted and curled and posed and chipped to great effect without breaking into a sweat
Spring 8 the General in midfield, but less forward-minded today. Hit some great passes to spread the play and destroyed effortlessly
Talbot 9 the only thing missing today was a goal. He was by far the best player on the pitch.
Andrew 7 he just gets better every game. But outshone by Drew


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