Tag Archives: Luton Town

Match Report: Liverpool 5-0 Luton Town

Liverpool 5 – 0 Luton Town

FA Cup: Third Round Replay

Anfield, Liverpool

Att: 44,446

This was a game with a spine of survival, albeit of two different kinds.

After the revelation that Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillette were chasing the Bayern Munich bound Jurgen Klinsmann, Rafael Benitez decided to start Steven Gerrard; Fernando Torres; Peter Crouch and Jamie Carragher, who claimed his 500th Liverpool appearance, in a bid to arguably extend a stay of execution, and avoid one of the biggest FA Cup shocks ever witnessed. In the end, it proved more than ample.

For Luton, whilst their time in the FA Cup is now over for another year, they’ll at least return to compete again. The 2020 consortium and this valuable replay have offered a pardon for its sixteen remaining players and the soon to depart Kevin Blackwell, who was forced to play the injured Dean Brill (who struggled to even kick the ball); and the former Liverpool playing Scot Don Hutchinson, who was given the unfamiliar position of centre-back, and forced to deal with the threat of Gerrard.

The experience of Hutchinson, who called for composure before half-time, almost kept Luton right in the game until a fatal lapse in concentration by his fellow players led to Ryan Babel’s neat finish in the 18-yard area in first-half stoppage time.

Prior to that, Hutchinson was there to close down Gerrard and throw himself in front of his long-range efforts; while the Luton back-line was managing to cope with the threat of Torres and Crouch.

And, when able to go forward, Luton did occasionally threaten. Dean Currie and David Bell were useful; and Calvin Andrews’ effort and determination was undeniable, coming close to being clean through on goal after 37 minutes, only to be judged just offside – that was as close as Luton came.

The increasing pressure from Liverpool was telling, and the Babel goal was almost inevitable. To go into half-time all square would arguably have outdone the result at Kenilworth Road. After the break, you could sense that more goals were due. This was confirmed seven minutes later, when Gerrard slotted in a close range header after a neat lay-off from Crouch.

This finally broke Luton, who were almost embarrassed when confusion between defender Keith Keane and Brill lead to the ball having to be swept off the line. Sami Hyppia added a third moments later after his header was deflected inwards; an astutely placed Gerrard strike inside the area added a fourth after 64-minutes, and Gerrard completed his hat-trick eight minutes later with a sweetly struck long-range effort of which he is only capable of.

Although the scoreline will please Benitez, it was to be expected considering the current plight Luton are in. What will not please him is the form of Babel and substitute Dirk Kuyt, who were occasionally wasteful and, in the case of Kuyt especially, looked increasingly desperate. This over-reliance on Torres and Gerrard could be the difference between Benitez keeping or losing his job.

The Sight is in End’s Man of the Match: Don Hutchinson

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Sod Newcastle, a real football team needs saving

So we’ve been hearing all week about football’s crisis club. An ongoing story of failure and disaster, which now appears to have reached breaking point, caused by continued mismanagement and a desire for quick success being allowed to override the need for long-term foundations to be laid.

Well actually, no, we haven’t. Instead the column inches have been clogged up with the latest renewal of the pantomime called Newcastle United. So lets quickly recap what everyone, interested in football or otherwise, now knows: A staggeringly rich football club, and its latest in a long line of staggeringly rich owners, keeps failing to use their staggeringly vast resources sensibly enough even to bring just enough decent football to keep the fans quiet. Oh how my heart bleeds for their plight.

Or to put it another way, who gives a toss? More importantly, who gives a toss when there is a case out there more deserving of our sympathy? A case for whom the kind of press coverage Newcastle have received this week could mean the difference between footballing life and death.

For Luton Town, the game is nearly up. Already in administration, a situation which has cost them ten points that currently make the difference between a place in the relegation zone, and being within shouting distance of the play-offs, Luton yesterday lost their manager. Yes, they lost their manager. You don’t hear it put like that very often do you?

For Kevin Blackwell, his job had become impossible. In making his final preparations for Luton’s home game against league one leaders Swansea on friday, Blackwell discovered that five of his players had been sold by the administrators. Having already endured the administration and points deduction, along with FA enquiries into the dodgy dealings of the club’s previous owners, and not having been paid for two weeks, you can begin to understand how Blackwell reached the end of his tether.

Yet, despite all this misery, the team has continued to show the most incredible spirit in it’s performances on the pitch. Luton’s home record has been one of the most consistent in the country this season. Promotion, not relegation, would be uppermost in their mind without the ten point penalty, and even since it was imposed, Luton have shown enough good form to suggest that survival would not have been a problem. In fact, before yesterday, Luton had lost only once in 13 games, an extraordinary performance by players who, of course, are also not being paid right now.

In addition to this, they knocked Nottingham Forest out of the FA Cup in the second round, before trumping that by earning a magnificent and improbable draw against Liverpool (should that be crisis club Liverpool?) in the third. The latter result has earned Luton a potentially life-saving replay at Anfield, but unless a new owner can be found for the club with some speed, this could prove to be a short reprieve.

Salvation for Luton is currently forming in the shape of a consortium led by (former) TV celebrity Nick Owen, a lifelong fan. Everyone in football should be hoping that Owen succeeds. Firstly, he is exactly the type of owner that a football club like Luton should have; a genuine fan, someone who would perform every action with the best interests of the club in mind, someone who would genuinely be in touch, and have sympathy, with the thoughts of the supporters, and someone who would leave the running of team affairs to the manager and his staff.

More importantly though, clubs like Luton simply must not be allowed to just disappear out of the league. They are part of football’s history, were a trophy winning club in the recent past, and are a hugely important institution in their local community. For clubs of Luton’s stature to suddenly cease to exist has massive implications for football, threatening even to the Premiership royalty that so sadly, and with blinkers firmly fitted, ignores their situation.

Lest we forget, Luton currently find themselves in such dire straits largely thanks to the allegedly illegal transfer activity of the clubs former owners – activity which was brought to the attention of the FA, The Football League and the national media by their then manager Mike Newell. Newell was admonished by virtually everyone in football, he lost his job, and has not worked since. The courage he showed in speaking out, with no support whatsoever from within the game, has been rejected and forgotten. This tale tells us everything we need to know about the way football is being run.

If the takeover goes through at Luton, and stability can be restored, Blackwell might be persuaded to change his mind about leaving (he’s decided to keep working with the players until February). Considering the job he has done with the team in such trying circumstances, this must be regarded as a necessity for Luton.

Although even if they hang on to Blackwell, the depleted squad is going to find it tough going for the remainder of the season, and bringing in new players is a fast-disappearing possibility with the days of January ticking by. Another example of how the smaller clubs are punished by the ridiculous transfer window rules, which were of course imposed in an attempt to curb the spending power of the super-rich.

The owner, directors, caretaker manager, players, and fans of Newcastle United should open up a newspaper today, wade through the ten pages of headlines about their own club, and seek out the small print. Hidden in there, they might find a football story that will make them sit up, take stock, and put their ‘problems’ into perspective.

Lets look at the facts: They will have no problem finding a manager, that manager will have millions of pounds to spend, they will continue to get 50,000+ gates for every league game regardless of how the team play, and they have no chance, repeat no chance, of getting relegated.

Could be worse couldn’t it? Newcastle, if you’re listening, you can’t continue to enjoy the luxury you do without the help of clubs like Luton Town. I suggest that the very least you could do is stop whining for five minutes, and wish them luck in their bid for survival.

Jamie.

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