Posts Tagged ‘Luton Town’

Middlesbrough v Luton, Saturday 5th March 2022, 3pm

March 7, 2022

Whilst we are going well in the Cup, we’ve faltered a little in the League lately with away defeats at Bristol and Barnsley contributing to a slip to eighth place. There’d been a good result for us in the Friday night game though with the draw between Sheff Utd and Forest resulting in both of the teams dropping two points.

I’d seen some of that game in the Malleable Club in what was my first visit since attending their Christmas parties as a child. Paul and I had called in on the way to see Altered Images at the Georgian. I’d read mixed reviews of their recent performances, but they did well. It seemed like an enjoyable night for both the band and the capacity crowd.

That draw meant that a win against Luton would allow us to leapfrog both them and Sheff Utd and move back up into sixth place. It’s ridiculously tight at the top of the Championship and whilst Fulham are probably far enough ahead to ensure automatic promotion the other spot could still go to any of the teams in the top eight, maybe even top ten. The play-offs are even wider open with clubs currently below half-way in the table still in with a shout.

Wilder had made two changes from the line-up that faced Spurs, switching out the strikers to allow Connolly and Balogun to start. The high-pressing game that we play makes big demands on the front-men and it makes sense to share the workload.

Luton looked a better side than us when we played them at Kenilworth Road back in October. We’ve improved considerably since those Warnock days though and, providing the Spurs game hadn’t taken too much of a toll, I was reasonably confident that we could take the points. Harry had no doubts. His logic being that if we could see off Tottenham then Luton should pose no problem at all. I was like that at his age.

Harry’s confidence wasn’t misplaced. Luton played a niggly game, trying to break up our rhythm at every opportunity. It’s exactly what we would have tried to have done under the previous manager. Once we’d got the first goal though it was always going to be difficult for them to get back into it and Watmore’s late clincher sealed the win despite an even later away consolation. The win was our ninth home league win in a row. That’s promotion form.

Luton Town v Middlesbrough, Tuesday 2nd November 2021, 7.45pm

November 7, 2021

As a ground hopper with almost four hundred grounds under my belt my record for the current ‘92’ is pretty poor in that I’ve only been to half of them. When the fixtures for this season came out I checked to see where I hadn’t been in the Championship and entered the four Boro away fixtures for the necessary stadiums into the spreadsheet that plays a big part of keeping track of what I need to do and where I need to be.

The first of those fixtures was Luton. I was a little surprised that I’d never been but a quick check revealed that around the time we moved up to the Premier League under Robbo Luton were slipping down the leagues and it’s only in the last couple of seasons that we’ve been back in the same division.

I had a bit of business on the other side of the M25 and so spent just about all of the day driving. I didn’t fancy another four hours of the same after the game so booked a hotel ten minutes walk from the Kenilworth Road ground. The ticket had been easy enough to get, reaching general sale and I thought it was very good value at only twenty quid.

It was fairly quiet when I arrived around an hour before kick-off. I got myself a bacon sandwich and was directed down an alley to the side of the ground where the away fans entrance was. I’ll be amazed if that alley was used in the days when fighting was commonplace, you could imagine a burning barrel or a large boulder being rolled down it, Indiana Jones style.

At the other end of the alley was the Oak Road entrance for Boro fans. It went through a row of terrace houses, with the top storey above the turnstiles being used as flats. I had a chat with a steward once inside and he confirmed that still people lived in them. I’d have thought that they would have made ideal club offices, or even a bar area.

In the area behind the turnstiles at ground level was the actual bar. The area was small and you could only access it from one end. I got my first pint easily enough but once another twenty or so Boro fans had arrived it became a lot harder and I was fortunate to get a second in time to drink it before kick-off.

We’d been allocated most of one of the stands behind the goal and a thousand Boro fans had made the trip. From the accents and the overheard conversations I’d say a lot of them were from London. I made my way over to the far corner where I had a reasonable view upfield but less so of the goal at our end.

Kennilworth Road is pretty run down. There is what looks like a temporary stand built out of portacabins and scaffolding with the rest being a mishmash of stands from different eras. I liked it. The steward had told me earlier that Luton were planning to move to a new ground in the next couple of years and I can see why, but it will be a shame to lose their current home. In a way, I’d like to see them go up so that they get a final year in the top flight before the move.

On the pitch everything was fine until it wasn’t. A decent first half performance had us a goal up but five mad minutes in the second half saw us concede three in that time and the points were gone. I thought Jones had a good game and Coburn, who I’d seen score in a couple of U23 games this season, took his goal well. Otherwise it was just another of those Championship games that could have gone either way but didn’t go ours.

As usual, some of the crowd were furious and ranted at the players, management and the shiteness of life in general. The majority of fans were a bit more supportive and stayed to applaud the players off. Josh Coburn, in particular, got a good send-off. I can’t say that I got too emotionally involved. When we scored I applauded, but I didn’t celebrate as if we’d won a trophy, as a lot seemed to do. When we conceded I saw it as something that had been on the cards. Maybe if I start going a bit more it may start meaning more, but I doubt it. Anyway, forty-seven done, forty-five to go.