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23/08 Luton 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 24/08/2003

NO changes were made at half time by either team, as the second half kicked off around 4:10.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Luton (a)

Kenilworth Road

Luton Town 1 Grimsby Town 2
23 Aug 2003, Nationwide League Division 2

Luton started out as one would expect, double the pace, double the frenzy, with their supporters catching the fever too. For they were far noisier and from the off were hissing at the referee for every decision not in their favour. For 20 minutes the ball fizzed into the Town box: in the air, on the ground, bodies flying, feet flapping, the crowd constantly baying. Pitt was starting to be a nuisance with some dribbles from deep positions, zooming towards the centre of the Town defence, as was their right back, Foley.

The story of the second half can be summed up in one word "handball!". For every time (well it felt like every time) Luton lost possession their fans shouted those eight letters, in that order. Or mostly that order. I have to agree with them, the referee was disgracefully one sided. So many blatant handballs by Town players. Every time Luton kicked the ball out of play Town players would literally pick it up and throw it back in. Shocking! Set up an FA enquiry NOW. There was one occasion when it looked like the ball might have struck a Town player’s hand inside the penalty area, but only MASSIVE (copyright any Sheffield Wednesday supporter) clubs get those sort of decisions. It followed a Pitt surge down their right, a lay back, a shot and the ball struck one of three Town players who threw themselves into the flight path. You wouldn’t find anybody in the away stand who would have given it. Oh no.

Luton threw away a golden opportunity to win a penalty when Foley dribbled at speed down their right, sweeping forward from the halfway line and into the penalty area. He swayed past one defender and leapt over Crane as the lumbering Lever-alike slid in at full speed. To the relief of all Townites, Foley kept on going, puling a cross back which was cleared for a corner. The Luton fans roared and roared, and moaned and moaned as Crane claimed injury. The referee made him go off the pitch and stand next to the corner taker. The corner caused a modicum of panic as it plopped into the near post. After a scramblette, the ball was hoofed away by Ford for another corner, another scramble, another hoof, another claim of handball as Davison caught it. You can repeat that little cameo every three minutes. Hoof, hope, claim, clear. Town were barely a threat. Ten Heuvel was replaced after about an hour by Rowan, who was most perky in open play, dropping just off the front, in pseudo-Sheringham position.

And things changed a bit. Town started to break away and cause some panic and anxiety in the Luton defence. There were several breaks where Town outnumbered the defence, but Boulding and Rowan were a little too fey when inside the penalty area. A Boulding break down the right resulted in him dinking a lovely cross to the unmarked Rowan at the far post, just eight yards out. Rowan controlled the ball on his chest and lost his footing as he turned, allowing a defender to sweep the ball away. Another Boudling break, another Boulding cross behind everyone. Here we go again, yet another break with Cas careering away like a runaway train, another nearly moment as Cas ended up clearing the ball for Luton, instead of crossing. So near, but nothing tangible to report. No shot, unless you count Cas’s extravagant toe poker which slapped against a steward. The steward gave a silent yelp of pain when he thought no-one was looking. But we were, oh yes, we were.

Craneyellow card
Ten Heuvelyellow card


Groves81 mins
Mansaram89 mins
Rowan57 mins


George Cain


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More Luton thrashings, more claims for penalties, it was getting rather tedious, and stretching credulity a little too far. What’s this? A sliced shot from about 25 yards out on their left swung through the middle of the Town area and a striker flung himself towards the ball at the far post, missing. Corner? How do they work that one out? Well, nothing really happened, another scramble, but again no shot. It was all rather too easy for Davison, he hadn’t been required to touch the ball in the second half. Oh, I smugged too soon. Foley tricked, danced and swirled his way through three tackles on the Town left, drifting infield and, from the edge of the area, hitting a surprising shot towards the near post. Davison made a plunging save to his left, plucking the ball away from danger with style and little fuss. A minute or so later Luton again surged down the Town left, cut infield and a little player miss-hit a shot straight to Davison from about 20 yards.

Town claimed a ridiculous penalty themselves when Boulding was sent free down the centre left. He took on one defender, who started to lunge, but stopped. The second defender turned towards the bye-line. Boulding then fell over the invisible leg. Ah, the leg that never was. Didn’t Hitchock make that in 1954 starring James Stewart? And whilst we’re on the topic of Town players falling , Crane, after a startling attempt at dribbling through the Luton defence, fell over. The ball wedged under his body and he tried to head the ball to Anderson, whilst still on the ground. A Luton player took the ball away and Crane lay down clutching his head. The referee, stood perhaps 5 yards away, very nicely decided not to book Crane for trying to con him.

With just over ten minutes left Town broke again, at speed, down the right. Some interplay involving Rowan and Anderson (I think) saw Cas bounding free. The rest is history, or rather a carbon copy of last week’s goal against Port Vale. Cas, near the corner flag, whipped in a vicious dipping, fizzing cross. BOULDING rose, unmarked at the far post and just seven yards out, guiding ball into the side of the goal. Three hundred exceedingly content people rose as one to acclaim the rejuvenated little scamp.

Game over? Groves brought himself on in place of Cas a few minutes later, with Campbell moving to the right wing. Groves simply stood five yards in front of the centre backs, winning virtually every header in midfield as Hamilton watched. He does a lot of that, Des the Peeping Tom of midfield. Luton still had a go, but it was very comfortable viewing, absurd penalty appeals apart. With five minutes left, Luton actually managed a decent one touch passing move which carved Town open down the right. Howard, flicked the ball infield and a substitute, their Crowe, zoomed into the penalty area. When about 10 yards out, Ford caught up and slid across, seemingly winning the ball. Sadly the referee eventually succumbed to the pressure of 5,000 baying Bedfordians and pointed to the penalty spot. NICHOLLS passed the ball into the centre right as Davison fell to his left.

As expected, Luton flew into Town, being even more direct, harrying, hassling and breaking forward through midfield. Only a couple of excellent covering tackles by Crowe stopped the centre forwards bursting through down the centre, but still Davison had no saves to make. The nearest they came was when Barnard calmly headed the ball back to Davison following a corner. At about 5 o’clock Mansaram replaced Anderson and Town looked to be playing a 4-3-3- formation. For the last few minutes Town kept trying to waste time running the ball into the corners, but as usual that wasted about 3 seconds. Town are just useless at that sort of thing. They might as well have had wild shots, losing a couple of more balls. Time, what a strange concept, an abstract thing. Drifting, drifting, would the game ever end? Would we get home before the end of British Summer Time? What was the referee waiting for? Perhaps he was playing until the next bunch of middle aged men turned up, like you do at Sports Centres. Perhaps he was thinking of us paying supporters - more minutes for your pound, what value. Six minutes after the board had been lifted showing four minutes of added time, the game ended, at about 5:03.

Marcel Cas But why quibble now, after victory these details of meaningless. We don’t need a fig leaf this week, no perceived refereeing injustice to rage against. The Town defence was largely adequate, given that Luton didn’t penetrate much, with Davison making only one save, his other stops were barely worthy of mention. And Luton didn’t create much either, some scrambles and woeful shooting from outside the penalty area. They had a solid central midfield, and a couple of tricky wide men, but nothing more, or less, than what Port Vale produced. Town are now seeing what standard is required in the second division, and they are hitting it perfectly. You may think that’s a positive statement, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

One thing is very noticeable about this season. Town don’t have many shots, but they score from them. Anderson doesn’t have many touches, but when he does it is worth it. The quality is there, let’s up the quantity, eh?

Nicko’s Man of the Match

Quite a few individuals were fine, even if the team, collectively, still looked like it was pinned together with tacks and tape. Crowe’s speed averted danger, Davison was solid, if largely untested, Barnard rarely wasted possession and defended (and fell) well, but the late kick off helped just one man wake up and smell the roses. Step forward the curiously baited SIMON FORD. He did, and he played exceedingly well.

Official Warning

G Cain, Was he unable? Doing acceptably until that late penalty award, where only the appliance of some suspicious science resulted in Luton scoring. Such a shame as he’d ignored the increasingly desperate pleas for penalties for so long. And just how long did we play in the second half? But Town won, let’s be as magnanimous in victory as we are humble in defeat (stop sniggering at the back). He gets a decent 6.3401, after losing points for the penalty he gave.

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