Happy Birthday Luton Town

A competent and all too easy first half performance, a ‘workmanlike’ second half and a some unsavoury party food which was hard to swallow at the end.

I can’t post a long match report today as I have to be up first thing tomorrow to drive up to the north east to attend a funeral. So it is going to be very short and sweet.

7000 fans attended the birthday party a good number turning out in pink as suggested by the club, and the team turned out in their snazzy pink’n’blue outfits. The two halves of the match mirrored the years I’ve supported the club so well. Some cracking passing football in one half, and some midfield-laden stodgy stuff in the second.

The goals? A cracking bit of centre-forward opportunism by Danny Crow for the first, managing to temporarily crock their embarrassed keeper in the process. A great header by Pilks from a corner for the second, and a first goal for Atieno for the third, after an outstanding exchange of passes with Danny Crow.

The second half saw Bath (who were as poor as any team we’ve seen in the first 45) plump more men into midfield and to close us down from the front, forcing us to play long hopeful balls rather than getting the ball down and passing it. Which, when we did, we looked fully dangerous again. Full credit to Bath in the second half because they frustrated the team and the fans and spoilt the party a bit.

And what must they make of us? I’ve always thought that our cousins from the West Country always sound a bit simple because of their funny accents, even though they are not. They must think we are simple – winning 3-1 at home comfortably, six wins out of seven, four wins on the trot, at a canter, and we boo the manager for substituting the wrong player and chant ‘you don’t know what you are doing’ at him. With friends like this who needs enemies?

Gnapka and Amari Morgan-Smith didn’t start and weren’t on the bench and so when the team was seen (I won’t say announced because we can’t hear the PA in our bit of the Kenny End) we were missing these two players. Now that puts the fans noses out of joint a tiny bit I think, because there was no mention of their injuries in the press conference and so what are the fans to think? The flair player and the form player are dropped? You never quite know what to expect with RM – but obviously when the dust settled and we tried to work out the formation we realised that they must be crocked.

So Barnes-Homer started on the left, Atieno started in the middle and Crow on the right of a three. I think. Drury was playing but I think he was supposed to be on the right of a three in midfield along with Howells and Keane. Anyway, despite it being an offensive formation and us getting three in the first half, I don’t think it worked very well. Drury and Howells seemed to be spare parts and neither had outstanding games. As I said Bath bogged up the midfield in the second and so we were outnumbered. Barnes-Homer worked hard in the first half on the left without being outstanding as he isn’t a winger – though I hasten to add he did put a couple of excellent crosses in to go with his pinpoint one last week. In the second half Money changed things around, experimented a bit with the game tied up, and put Besta on in the middle, switched Jake into a role behind MBH up front on his own. Now, as I’ve said MBH wasn’t getting much service, because the ball was in the air for most of the half, and, running towards the Kenny End MBH’s naturally languid style doesn’t go down well all of the time and his apparently half-hearted attempts to get on the end of the umpteenth punt down the middle were getting people’s backs up – especially as Danny Crow was still running around with his tail up. We were sharing MBH’s frustration. Time to bring on a fresh pair of legs and change things around. And so on comes young Dan Walker to shake things up – but who comes off? The obvious choice is MBH – without a goal, looking a bit listless because of his frustration – but no. Off comes fan’s favourite Danny Crow. Now some people think that MBH must have compromising pictures of RM because he has been ever-present and seemingly can do no wrong. Whilst Crow, not allowed to start the season on the pitch, but once he did gets goals for fun and charges around all game. And this substitution, to those who subscribe to the ‘compromising pictures’ conspiracy, just confirmed their suspicions. My thinking was that Danny had got a card already and it was good practise to bring him off just in case, though it wasn’t a dirty game. Richard Money said afterwards that MBH had taken one for the team by playing out on the left wing in the first half and so deserved the chance to carry on. This thought process, of course, Money can’t communicate to the crowd. And so we witnessed one of the most cringeworthy responses to a substitution I can recall for many a year. I watched Money’s reactions throughout. He was livid initially with the booing and reacted, and then went into a mega-huff when the chanting started. He’s a sensitive type. And we all learnt at school how to wind up the sensitive kid.

Afterwards in his interview with Ian Pearce on 3CR he said that you could hear the chanting in Watford. He was still furious and seething. He explained his thinking behind the substitution and that the prerequisite he set before signing a new contract was to have everyone on board. He now defined that prerequisite as basically having the fans on his side. He wants to be loved. Or at least respected. And last year’s performances require some respect, and six wins out of seven this year and only being three points off the top club demands some respect too. And that is fair enough. Conversely, I suspect if we had gone up at the first attempt he would be hailed a hero – and indeed,
if this time next year we are top of League One he will be a hero.

But he has a strange and spiky relationship with the fans, and I suspect lots of people he meets. He puts people’s backs up a bit. And in turn he allows his back to be put up by others. He wants the fans to be understanding and appreciative of what he has achieved in the short time he has been here and he wants us all on board. But that’s probably not going to happen with a fan base bloodied and bruised and frustrated and desperate to get back into a league we were evicted from by the FA.

I think he has to understand that he is in a relationship with damaged goods: a fandom who have been through hell and back, and he is expecting everyone, even the dimwits who would boo their own players, to react to his decisions rationally. He’s expecting his relationship with the fans and more importantly our reaction to him to be that of a naive, joyous, misty-eyed, newly-wed bride; rather than that of a wily, thrice-married old slapper who has been round the block a few times and who has the scars to show it.

He wants to be appreciated and loved by all and somehow, until he notches up a promotion, he’s not going to get that acclaim. Like I said earlier he’s sensitive. Not everyone is the same. I’ve probably not got too many fans in my workplace – but then again I don’t work to be loved, I work to bring home the cash. No doubt he’ll get a cracking bonus if we get promoted. He should get his head down and worry about that more than wanting universal acclaim when he’s not going to get it.

Win the doubters over Richard. The only way you can do that is to carry on getting good results, playing good football and us going up. Rather than expecting everyone to be on board, focus on ensuring that you eliminate the remotest possibility of mass dissent. Make it impossible not to be loved.

In case I’ve not made it clear in the text, I’m fully on board with Money, despite his occasional oddities and I genuinely don’t believe anyone else (other than Pleaty) could do a better job. I condemn those who boo him, or the players or the performance. We should support the team not jeer. However, our supporters have been through more than any other set of fans so I can fully understand the frustration of some – which doesn’t mean I support it – just that I can understand that some might react in that way. It isn’t right, but any manager of Luton Town has to work that little bit harder than he would at any other club to get the disparate, dizzy, battered and bruised elements on side.

Where does this all leave Richard Money? His comments to the papers after the game were increasingly despondent and he is either attention-seeking, or nursing a bruised ego, or pissed off enough to piss off (if you excuse the language). Who knows with him? He’ll either calm down or call our bluff. But as my Dad would say: pride doesn’t pay the mortgage Richard. Get on with it.

Now, that said, when Dan Walker came on he was another breath of fresh air, even though he was tucked away on the left.

What would I have done differently in Money’s position at the start of the game with AMS and Gnapka injured? I would have stuck with 442 for a start and had Howells or Walker on the left and Drury on the right, with MBH and Crow up front. Keane with Poku and or Besta in the middle (though Besta did look rusty and still worryingly off the pace). Today’s formation I think was a dangerously Harford-esque buggers-muddle of trying to squeeze every one in and move everyone around to accommodate Atieno up front and in the middle. Further tinkering didn’t help and despite the win, I have a nagging feeling that today’s performance will have done more damage than good to our confidence levels. Confidence levels that were so high at the start as to nearly bring us a goal within 30 seconds and a corner before a minute was out. I just hope that we haven’t caught a crab or missed a step because of the enforced changes to team and formation. If you recall our great run last year came to an end when the team lost key players and more importantly the on-fire Gnapka was missing and we began to believe in our own mortality again. I just hope that the second half against Bath hasn’t knocked our self-belief (like the missed penalty did against Newport) and knocked us off the crest of our wave. Fortunately our opponents next week are Corby not Crawley. It is as simple as this: if our self-belief is re-acquired we will hammer them, but if the manager can’t get us back to where we were (and I’ve no reason to believe he can’t or won’t) then the tie would have the whiff of banana about it.

So in summary then, it was party time at Kenilworth Road, but the hangover came before the party was over, and the birthday boy fell out with some of the guests. Let’s hope that everyone has made up before too long. Pass the cake.

PS – wasn’t it good to see Basher, Baynham, Black et al at half time?

What was up with their injured player? Running up and down the touchline and then limping on to the pitch sitting down and being ignored by the physio. Only to carry on playing and then being stretched off. Bit bizarre if you ask me.

Also – balloons are nice and fun and put folk in a party mood – but yellow ones? Yellow ones?!? Why didn’t someone pop ’em? No respect for tradition some people.

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Saints witness Amari-cle

A reasonably gentle work-out for the mighty Hatters saw a convincing 4-0 win against St Albans City, in our first appearance this season in the oldest football competition in the world.

St Albans harried and hustled as much as they could, closing down well in the first half, but it was all in vain, as some great finishing by new boy Amari Morgan-Smith put them to the sword.

Once again, as with Grays last year I had the bar to myself having shooed the children to sit down and let me read the programme in peace. Bearing in mind twice as many people came this year to last, about 3000 must have arrived in the last 15 minutes. Perhaps they had heard that St Albans had a bald pensioner in goal. Just as well we didn’t bother to put the floodlights on or we would have been dazzled by the glare off his scalp. For those of you not at the game some of you may recall the episode of Alan Partridge’s Knowing Me Knowing You where Alan hosted a Question Time type discussion and it was hijacked by Lieutenant Colonel Kojak Slaphead III of the Bald Brummies. Need I say more?

The only change to the team that routed Nailsworth Utd on Tuesday was Gnapka in for Drury.
There were some good moves, and we especially stretched them in the last 15 minutes when Dan Walker came on, but because St Albans were so content just to try to stop us from playing there were quite a few bitty periods. Keane and Howells dominated a very narrow and tight midfield and pulled the strings in distributing the ball. It was a pretty narrow game actually, neither Claude nor AMS got particularly wide – one of the reasons he managed to get the three goals perhaps? That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of crosses, just not much out and out touchline-hugging wing-play. On occasion the match was crying out for a player to find a bit of space on the wing. That’s the only criticism really, because it was a very professional performance otherwise. There weren’t many fouls in the game, unusual for a Beds-Herts clash but there didn’t need to be and the ref let the game run really well. The one stand-out stinker was when David Deeney, clearly wanting to leave some sort of impression at Kenilworth Road clattered Ed A-A but it was out of place in this contest and in that regard St Albans stand out as Hertfordshire’s most sporting football team.

The match started quietly and slowly and it took a while to start to dominate. Pilks had a header from a Howells free kick after about 10 mins – but it went straight to the keeper Bastock.

Barnes-Homer, who had an excellent game started the next move which led to the first goal, he sent Claude down the right and he played a cross right to the far post where Amari-Smith tucked it in neatly glancing the post. It was one of those where you weren’t quite sure how he managed to squeeze it in, but he did.

He had another chance shortly afterwards when I think it was Jakey Howells who played him in – he had a one on one with the keeper but popped it wide.

Danny Crow made it 2-0 a couple of minutes later, a quick free kick taken by Jake Howells gave him bags of room, so much in fact that some strikers would fluff the chance because of the unexpected time and space they are given. Not Danny Crow – a lovely bit of control and a swing of the right peg was enough to bury the ball past the flailing Bastock. It was well-deserved because once again old ‘Big Hips’ ran his heart out in the game before being given a rest with 15 mins to go.

Six minutes later it was 3-0 and the fixture was well and truly over as a contest. This time it was an exquisite pin-point cross from from MBH on the right which perfectly found the head of AMS who powered the header home with the dead-eye certainty of a Harford or Howard.

More chances came for Danny Crow, who on another day could have had a first half hat-trick. Claude had one saved and MBH shot over from 35 yards.

It was a good first half without being a great one, St Albans tried to close us down from the front and so snuffed out some of the creativity, but as the half went on and the goals went in we carved out more chances and they had less influence on trying to frustrate us. Poor St Albans had almost nothing to offer. Anything that went forwards was either too long and ended up in Tyler’s hands at the other end or was easily tidied up by the back four.

The second half started slowly with Danny Crow having a chance to bag a second after a good knock down by Krocha. The first change was made on about 55 mins with Dan Gleeson being replaced by Ed A-A. It was Ed’s long overdue opportunity this year and he did well. He did managed to get caught out of position on a couple of occasions after trying passes that didn’t come off, but I think that was because he was trying too hard to impress. He managed some good exchanges with Keane and Howells and got forward and supported Claude and AMS.

A minute later Danny Crow had another chance, AMS flying down the left and pulling it back for Crow to crack the ball onto the underside of the bar. No Russian linesman – no goal – but the thwack was loud enough to be heard in Dunstable. Imagine, if you can, being back at school playing football in games on a cold February afternoon everyone’s breath being visible and your fingers being so numb you can’t do your school shirt up and miss your school bus home. Imagine being on that pitch and the opposition being awarded a free kick. That free kick sails over your head and that wet, mud-splattered ball smacks into the old-fashioned square wooden goalposts, and the sound of that smack/crack/thwack of the ball carries across the football field, across the playground and is loud enough to be heard in the classrooms. It was that sort of thwack.

Time for Godfrey ‘on fire’ Poku to come on. He replaced MBH who had worked tirelessly all afternoon and who set up the excellent third goal. This meant a slight reorganisation. Jake went to the left and I would have thought that AMS would have gone up front, but the striker moved out to the right wing this time and Claude moved to centre forward. To be fair to AMS he was hardly out on the ‘wing’, because he was playing so narrow and pushed so far up he was almost the third of a front three – in the way that Brko did so successfully in the promotion season to the Championship.

Almost instant success came for Claude and it was his turn to hit the post, with Howells not quite catching the rebound and it being clear off the goal-line. With 20 minutes to go AMS showed that he can hit a good free kick on target from about 20 yards out (a rarity in these parts recently with the exception of the occasional cracker from Gallen) but the ball was saved by Bastock down to his left.

Dan Walker then made his second appearance of the week with just over 15 minutes left. Once again he was like a breath of fresh air giving a touch of additional pace. He did tend to migrate out to the left a bit but gave the tired St Albans defenders something new to worry about. He had a couple of clear cut chances and looked very lively again.

With time ticking on Poku was presented with a guilt-edged chance to score against his former employers, but demonstrated why he hasn’t pursued a career as a striker with an ugly sliced volley from the edge of the box which slewed well wide and surprised an elderly gentleman behind the goal, rather than the elderly gentleman between the posts.

The fourth goal finally came with six minutes left. Dan Walker once again stretched St Albans down the wing and pulled the ball back to Amari Morgan-Smith whose deft chip over the keeper suggested a coolness and ability far better than the level we are presently condemned to play at. Five goals in five games for goodness sake. What a start. The matchball was his.

With time nearly up Keano nearly did another cheeky ‘Oxford’ with a perfect inswinging corner. This time the keeper wasn’t miles off his line and anyway the ball was headed clear.

So, an entertaining game without Luton having to hit top gear. Long may that continue. Things are looking up again.

Scores on the doors:

Tyler didn’t have too much to do, can remember one shot and one corner from them so a 6 is pretty standard I guess.

Gleeson 6
Pilkington 7
Krocha 7
Murray 7

Gnapka 8
Keane 8
Howells 8
AMS 10

Crow 8.5
MBH 8

Ed 7
Poku 6
Walker 8.5

So that was that was that. The Luton ball is in the hat for the next round. I’m not sure when the draw is – Monday presumably. Let’s hope we get Hythe Town at home and then another nice home tie, and then either play Liverpool or Watford in the third round. What a lovely thought to go to bed with on a Saturday night.

Many thanks as ever for all of the comments on my posts and an especially warm welcome to those readers from the around the world who log on to read this. I trust your part of the world is warmer than Luton was this afternoon. Call me a sissy, but that’s the last game I go to without gloves until Easter.

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"For the benefit of the players, here are the names of the crowd"

This old joke was appropriate for the Forest Green fans for the first time at a match I have attended. I counted seven. Officially it was eighteen – God knows where they appeared from – perhaps the eleven on the pitch were included too?

A good, entertaining game and a deserved win, on the first cold football night of the season – heavens above, this is October – we’ve got six more months of this. The win seemed on the cards as soon as the first goal went in. 9-1 wouldn’t have flattered us, and if the ball had gone in with every shot as it did for the first half hour against Hayes earlier this year then we would have had double figures. Surreal isn’t it?

To be fair, I think this is the sort of result we should expect – such was the gulf in class between the two teams. What is more all six were good outfield goals – always a good sign that a team is playing well: the percentage of goals from open play.

So onto the team, and then a description of the Luton goals. First thing to note was, and, you are not misreading this – we played an unchanged team! Hurrah! The penny has dropped! Ten goals in two games with the same XI, there’s a message in there somewhere.

In goal was Mark Tyler. What can I say? He had so little to do in the game, his only exercise was in trying to outsprint Styche when he should have whacked the ball clear. A battle he was never going to win. Styche won the race, sold Tyler a dummy, tackled him, controlled the ball, and calmly placed the ball in the net at an acute angle. Nice finish. I suspect MT will get more ribbing due to the fact that in the end the goal counted for nothing than he would have done if we had lost because of it. To be honest from what I read and hear, he’s not been at his best over the last few games. However, that said, he’s still the best keeper we’ve had in a long time, everybody goes off form occasionally, and it isn’t costing us games.

At right back was Dan Gleeson. I think Dan is the weakest link in the defence at the moment. He was quite inspired at the start of the season, but is making too many errors at present. Flood (for that was his name) beat him on a number of occasions last night, on the few occasions they did get forward. As with Tyler – it doesn’t matter so much if the team is playing well, but these mistakes will otherwise lead to goals against better opposition. Pick your game up please Dan. Ed is waiting in the wings…there is only so many times he can put “what have I got to do to get a game” on his facebook profile before someone tells Mr Money. Frankly I don’t think Ed’s face fits with RM – Money made some dodgy comments about him last year I recall too. I suspect, unless he proves (or gets a chance to prove) that the right back berth should be his (which it should) before the end of the season he will be out of the door.

In the middle was Kroca and Pilks. The centre halves had more attacking to do than defending – Krocha often stayed forwards after a set piece, not that it did much good. He made one mistake at the back, but otherwise had a largely untroubled and unremarkable game.

Captain Pilks had a strange game for him too. Watching him closely in the first half, it struck me that he made more mistakes in this game than he normally does in half a season. By mistakes I mean, poor defensive headers that go straight to the opposition and passes that go out or to an opponent. Again, it didn’t really matter today. Get the mistakes out of the way in games like this, or rather in the first half of a game like this, because I think he was blemish-free in the second half.
He did hit the bar with a good header from a Drury corner shortly after we went one up – I seem to think he had another header sometime towards half time too.

On the left was the improving Freddie Murray. He had licence to get forward down the left and that he did, linking up well with AMS.

He had the ‘assist’ for the first goal, had a hand in the second, and was chopped down in the box for a penalty that wasn’t given. He also did a Sol Davis style tackle on one of the Forest Green team which earned him his first card of the season. He was also back on long throw duty but I think things have become confused at the club. In the first half a ball boy would pass the towel to Murray (the brown one this week) even in his own half, so he was able to take a nice defensive throw to his own player in his own half. Conversely in the second half the club didn’t have the nous to tell the ballboy to take his towel over to the other side and Murray had to take long throws with no towel or borrow one from the Luton bench (a white one, those stains’ll never come out). As it happens the long throws tended to miss the tall Luton players completely and he reverted to his normal style of foul-throwing at every opportunity.

On the right wing was Andy Drury scorer of the first goal, and set up the second. He tormented their left back, scuffed a shot and also blasted the freekick-that-should-have-been-a-penalty sky high and wide. He was subbed at half time – apparently him going off is now a point of mirth for the team. Good player to replace him though. Claude Le Goal, was more like Claude Le Tormenteur and spent the second half tormenting their poor left back McDonald. Claude is the perfect player to introduce as a sub – especially against tired defenders. He is the last thing some cloggy carthorse wants storming down the wing at you. What chance have you got to second guess what Claude is up to? He doesn’t know himself half the time.

He set up the fourth and fifth goals, blasted one shot wide and had another saved on the line. Not a bad effort for 45 minutes work. Appropriate really that he only had half a game, most of France has only been working for half the week this week, so perhaps it was fitting.

In the middle of the park were Keith Keane and Jakey Howells. Keane had a good game, charging opponents down- linking up the play and generally played intelligently. He drove a shot wide towards the end which was pretty much a gilt edged opportunity laid on by I think Jake had a quiet game for him (well he is out of position) apart from one cracking defensive tackle on half way to win the ball back. He didn’t lack effort though and worked hard in the middle.

He was replaced after an hour by Godfrey ‘on fire’ Poku – who showed welcome pace and presence in the middle and looked ‘well up for it’ to quote Jay from the Inbetweeners. He has a slightly rolling gait – he reminds me of someone, I don’t know who it is. He is clearly full of energy and raring to go. I wonder if he gets a start against his old club? Actually, knowing RM’s lack of sentimentality he probably won’t even be on the bench. Anyway – with us being a man down with Adam Murray off to Mansfield it doesn’t hurt to have another midfielder in there who in time might release dear Jake to go back onto the wing.

On the left was Amari Morgan-Smith who was so far forward most of the time he was virtually up front. He’s a strange lad – in one move he demonstrated that he only has a right foot as he bumbled down the touchline, but 5 minutes later popped up with an excellent left foot cross for Claude. See? You can do it. He tormented the right back (Hodgkiss I think) at will. One bit of brilliance was putting Claude in through the middle of the park with a defence-splitting pass which would have wowed the pundits used to commenting on the overpaid flouncers four divisions above.

Up front was Big Hips and Alice-band-free Danny Crow – presumably someone has already made the Sansom disconnection. Another start for Crow, another brace. Is that five goals in six starts now? Telegram for Mr Money, telegram for Mr Money…One other thing Danny Crow does is work very hard. He chases down the defenders like he is told to do and doesn’t give up. He is a real crowd pleaser. Even when he was crocked before he came off he was hobbling one minute and towering down on some hapless defender the next. Excellent effort Danny. His passing and vision were good too, especially his reverse pass for the first goal.

Alongside was MBH who now has a return of nine goals from 16 starts which is a great return for anyone. He does have his fair share of chances for those nine, but he is still getting them. Today was no different, he must have had half a dozen decent chances – I’m not going to list them all here but he did take his goal well. His interplay was much improved too and got plenty of crosses in. He fell out with Dan Walker towards the end as Walker (understandably) bore down on goal and shot, rather than passing to MBH – he got his own back a minute or so later snubbing Walker who was in a better position and had a go himself.

Speaking of Walker, he does add a crispness to the attack. His goal was a cracker, I might as well describe it here and then progress onto the others. He picked it up about 25 yards out and moved forwards unfettered by the oncoming defender and buried it beautifully into the corner of the net from approx 20 yards. Fantastic strike. He looks good. He is lively, tall and pacey. If he plays he will score I am sure. No more strikers please. We have plenty. Stick him on the bench every week and bring him in if someone gets a knock.

I’m aware I’ve missed out plenty of shots and action, but there were so many, and we were so dominant that it was hard to document and remember them all. There were two lulls in the game midway through both halves when the ball wasn’t brought down and played, but bobbed around in the middle or where the keepers took it in turns to whack it to each other. Other than that we were on fire and dominated and deserved every goal we got.

Onto the goals then. The first one took a bit of common sense from both the ref and Fred Murray. A lovely footballing move led to Murray who played the ball to Crow and who played it through for MBH who was offside and the flag was raised. Only MBH wasn’t offside because he didn’t touch it and Murray zoomed down the left and crossed it for Drury. Forest Green had all stopped, because of the linesman’s flag. But Drury hadn’t stopped, controlled it, took it past Bittner and it was a legitimate goal. Much to Forest Green’s anger and our delight. Well done ref, the sort of refereeing we need. Can we have that rub of the green in the playoff final please?

Keane played the ball down the left for Murray who took the ball down the wing for about 10 yards before playing a ball outside the defender into the path of Drury who drilled the ball across the face of the goal for Amari-Smith to bang in from 5 yards. 2-0. 2nd of hopefully very many for AMS – he hasn’t looked out of place by the step up in class from Ilkeston town.

The third goal after 34 minutes was a comedy effort strikers must dream of. The hapless Bittner punted it straight to Danny Crow who intercepted it half way in their half and then sprinted with it to the edge of the box and fired it past the keeper. 3-0.

I’ve mentioned Tyler’s mistake and so onto Hatters goal #4. A crossfield ball played to Claude down the right he hoodwinked McDonald the leftback, showed a neat turn of pace, cut inside and played the ball to Crow who finished took his chance well at the near post.

I’ve described Walker’s goal and so onto MBH’s – goal 5. On the edge of the box he played the ball to Gnapka who cut inside and rounded McDonald (you’ve read this before somewhere) and passed it back to MBH who slotted it home nicely.

The comedy moment of the night, apart from Tyler’s muff and Murray’s towel troubles? MBH falling on his arse when scoring the fifth goal right in front of the Kenny. He came up smiling.

Right – it’s bloody late, so I’ll post this now and be done with it.

Quick scores: Tyler: 5, Gleeson 5, Pilks 6.5, Krocha 6, Drury 7.5, Howells, 6.5, Keane 7, AMS 8, Crow 9, MBH 7. Claude 8, Walker 7.5, Poku 6.5.

Stalbans on Saturday, where, hopefully I will have the bar to myself for an hour like I did against Grays last year. Hic.

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Back on Course

I didn’t go – recovering from the flu – and listened to ‘The Luton Show’ on 1CR.

Pleased to see that Crow, AMS and MBH all started – though I was surprised that Jake didn’t return to the wing in the absence of both Claude and Newton.

Four goals away from home is good whoever you are playing, so hats off to Pilks, MBH and ‘Big Hips’ Danny for the goals. Bearing in mind some of their scorelines I suppose we did well to keep Eastbourne down to two (I can’t believe I just typed that.)

Whilst I’ve been away from blogging I was pretty amazed by RM’s strange press conference last week. He does choose to say the oddest things. I fully support him as manager and wish him well, though I think, on occasion, his worst enemy is his own mouth. I think there has been more focus on his outbursts this season than last, because he enjoyed a healthy honeymoon last year which was extended because of the fantastic run we went on in March. Because of some of the mixed results this year, the inconsistent team selection, and selling off our best striker the attention was quickly turned to the manager – and once the spotlight was on him and the pressure was applied, his often strange remarks became highlighted. The content of his comments and outbursts hadn’t/hasn’t become any more bizarre but people notice them more if we are not winning the games we should.

My take on his comments is this: He tries to say too much. He is a very intense and passionate man and allows that to spill out into his comments. In fact, because he is so intense, he needs to rein himself in more and watch what he says. It would be true the other way around too – if a manager is quite reserved and reticent as a person then he needs to work hard to ensure that his post match utterings are not just three-word answers. Of course there are managers like Joe Kinnear who actively and deliberately court publicity and controversy with their statements. But Richard Money is not BFJ. Earlier in this paragraph I said RM tries to say too much – I’ll qualify that. He falls between two stalls with his comments. He says things, but isn’t given the opportunity, or perhaps more likely doesn’t make the time to give us the reasoning behind his comments. He’s an intelligent man, but he is only giving us the headlines of his thinking without giving the evidence to back it up. I suppose it is the nature of reporting that the radio and newspapers just want a soundbite and not a reasoned argument. Because of this RM always appears to be defensive, a bit cross, and on the back foot and some of his statements can appear a tad crass or just plain wrong. I think he thinks he has to say these things – whereas I think he could cut out a lot of the nonsense and would get more respect. Less is more if you like. Would that make his press conferences more bland? Oh yes. Would we be fed more of a diet of warm words and cliches? Unfortunately, yes. Would it mean that he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot as much, and be less likely to put people’s backs up? Yes indeed.

The other funny thing that RM said this week was that he’d been asked to sign an extended contract, but wouldn’t until everyone was onside. This tickled me – because Tommy Craddock wasn’t given that luxury was he?!? As soon as he intimated that he might not sign a new contract because he didn’t know where he stood, he was out the door and sold off to Oxford. Isn’t life peculiar?

Righty ho – after today’s win we are fourth with a game in hand, and a chance to make up three more points on Wimbledon and Crawley on Tuesday against the team from the village of Nailsworth.

Playing record thus far, after a third of the season: P15 W8 D3 L4. F26 A16 – Pts 27. Just for fun, this time last year it was: P15 W9 D3 L3. F22 A15, Pts 30.

Let’s make it four wins out of five under the lights on Tuesday – Come on you Hatters!

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No report tonight

Unfortunately the long-suffering and very tolerant Mrs Mosque is currently suffering from influenza and so unfortunately have been unable to attend the last two games. I thought it wise to bank some brownie points and look after her and the family. It’s a shame because I was looking forward to this evening’s game and the long trip to Barrow. In the scheme of things it is probably just as well that I didn’t attend the game tonight because I don’t think my blood pressure could have taken it. Hopefully she’ll be fit by the Eastbourne game.

Losing at home is a kick in the teeth – especially as we were 1-0 up. MBH might get us goals, but he needs lots of chances to get them, perhaps we would get more with someone else up front? I liked the look of Crow and Morgan-Smith up front to be honest – don’t quite know what they’ve got to do to get a start…

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