Rovers 1 Luton 1

by on 29/12/07 at 9:35 am

Joomla! LogoThe weather was mild, and so was the pre-match mood at the Mem. With only the modest charms of Luton Town to drag everyone out of their homes, the crowd trickled in slowly, hauling in full bellies that seemed to lack hunger for a result.

Rovers kicked off and did their ???all down one side??? routine. As usual, it didn???t work, but the first few minutes were pretty entertaining from both sides. The crowd slowly stirred, with Flapper???s frequent but random kicking providing potential genius and disaster in equal measure.

After 14 minutes Williams had the ball in the middle, moving forwards about 10 yards outside their box. He beat two men with his speed, and the third one pulled him down as he rounded the keeper. The ref issued a red and pointed to the spot. It seemed a fair call to me, and Lambo tucked it away cleanly.

Luton then fought back, and had their best 10 minutes of the game, with the midfield looking capable and creative, and the forwards looking dangerous. It didn???t last though, and the last 15 minutes of the half were champagne Rovers. Lambert won everything in the air, did his twinkle-toes routine with lots of deft touches on the ground, and Rovers won all the fifty-fifties on the field. Pipe, in particular, was at his aggressive best, and his spirit spurred the crowd. Even Disley looked dominant, and several good chances were created.

Lewis went over with what the bloke behind me described as a ???badly grazed tan???, but it looked to me like his knee took the impact of an agricultural challenge from Luton. Walker came on in his place, made an impact immediately with an intelligent and dangerous pass, and for a while it was back to the routine of the end of last season.

Rovers started the second half as though they???d already earned a win. It didn???t take long for Luton to make them pay though. The first chance missed, the second went in straight from a free kick out of Rovers??? right (not the first to do so recently), and the third required a good save from Flapper. All that within the first 5 minutes.

Rovers re-asserted themselves, and the ref stopped the game to give Luton???s small-and-nasty number 14 a good talking to. A few minutes later, he fouled Campbell (not a big fella himself, so not an obvious one to exacerbate number 14???s complexes) and his name went into the book. Very soon after, Williams was through on another dangerous run when number 14 pulled him down just outside the box, leaving the ref with little choice but to issue another red card. For the pantomime villain, it was Cheerio Mister Nasty.

So it was 11-9 on players, with ages left. Rovers huffed, puffed and created, but it wouldn???t go in. Another professional foul reduced Luton to 8 men with around half-an-hour left, but a combination of the bar, the posts, the goalie, a defender on the line, and some plain lack of luck meant that Rovers couldn???t break the deadlock. With Walker and Lambert on the field, the tactics of putting in crosses from the wings seemed to make sense, but we couldn???t get a blue boot on the end of the flicks.

Trolls should maybe have forced the players to think more than rush ??? the haste seemed to play psychologically into Luton???s hands ??? but its unfair to be too hard on the lads.

Pipey got man of the match. For me, he got it for effort but lacked a bit of effect. Lambert was the man from whom all good things flowed, though much so as the second half wore on. Mullings came on as sub, but made little impact. Lescott, Jacobsen and Pipe all worked hard but often lacked the final ball. Campbell had a quiet game, though the bloke wearing Steve Elliot???s shirt had very little to do at the back, but put together some lovely passes out of defence ??? and we still didn???t win!

One nice touch on the way out ??? the Rovers fans stood and applauded the 8 remaining Luton players as the left the pitch. The goalie walked the length of the pitch applaud and be applauded by their fans. As the bloke next to me said, ???that???s the bloke who kept them in the match???

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