And so the punishment continues. In all their wildest dreams Mawhinney et al couldn’t have hoped that we would be down here for four seasons, but we are. After three lots of defeats in the play offs I don’t want to do that again we have to go out and grab the league title next term.
If it wasn’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all. A pair useless linos, a blind ref and yes, watching the game back this evening (which hasn’t lightened my mood) the winner was offside. How typical. I can only hope that one day a similar amount of good luck will balance all the shit we’ve had to put up with. Which other team has to wait until the 72nd minute before being awarded their first free kick in a game? If you didn’t know better you’d think the officials were bent. That’s the second final running where an official’s poor decision cost us the chance to win the game.
That’s not to say that York didn’t work hard to have the better of the game. They out-did us at our own game. Quick to close us down and played on the break they did battle bravely to ensure that we didn’t build on the unbelievably wonderful advantage Andre Gray gave us after 70 seconds.
I thought Robbie Willmott had a good game, and when he got the chance to bomb down the wing did so with ease and effectiveness. We’ll need to work on the corners though today they were so predictable (loopy out swingers to the edge of the box) that after the first couple, the York keeper, Ingham knew where to stand and just plucked them out of the air in front of the advancing Kovacs.
Stuart Fleetwood was less incisive today apart from a period where he swapped with Willmott he was marooned on the right of a front three and got little service that service he did get involved him jumping with the enormous centre halves.
Andre Gray was at his pacy best, but rarely got the service he needed to exploit his speed just one of his two air shots towards the end would have put us on level pegging, but bearing in mind where he has come from and what he has done in such a short space of time he has been an utter revelation. If he stays fit next year you can see him being the 25-30 goal a season man we have been looking for.
One thing I noticed today was our propensity to cut inside rather than go wider when approaching goal Willmott and Adam Watkins were both guilt of this on a few occasions today whilst it does get you in the right place in front of goal, it also takes you to where all the opposition are and the play either breaks down when you can’t slide a pass in, or you are forced to shoot from distance. That’s not to say we didn’t get into shooting positions 21 shots to York’s 10 in the game tells its own story.
Mark Tyler made an outstanding save from a looping header from Jason Walker in the first half, he was keen to distribute the ball quickly, and save for a misunderstanding with Kovacs in the first half, was as good as ever.
Keith Keane, as keen as anyone to get back in the league fought and battled hard all match to win the ball back and much be gutted to miss out on promotion for the third season running.
Pilks and Kovacs knew they’d been in a game. Pilks was worked hard by the ginger-pixie Jason Walker and Kovacs was getting his head on the end of all of the bombs lumped towards him.
Jake was incisive on the left and Osano played excellently on the right (yes, I typed that) his mazy runs and left foot crosses bringing some welcome width.
Big Craig MacAllister came on for Stuart Fleetwood but didn’t last too long a brave challenge trying to get onto the end of an excellent Gray cross meant that his head was badly gashed and he was subbed by Aaron O’Connor who was making a rare appearance under Mr Buckle’s stewardship.
Kissock came on for Watkins and thankfully once again didn’t play like the performing circus seal Brabin had him doing. He got a bloody nose for his efforts when he bravely dived to get on the end of Osano’s cross, and lovingly and sensibly cradled big Craig’s head when it was pissing blood.
After a bit more running the clock down by York, and as the match ran over the 4 minutes the ref had added on for the two head injuries and five substitutions he put us out of our misery.
Like last year, I put my head in my hands, then got up and got out. I didn’t wait to acknowledge the lads for their efforts (which I wish I had done) I just wanted to get out. After a long, a bloody long season I’d had enough. There’s only so much disappointment I can take and the last thing I wanted to do was to listen to both of York’s fans celebrating.
To be fair, we weren’t at our best today, a bit disjointed and flat especially in the second half in a way, and it might sound strange, we might have scored too early, like Liverpool against us in the 5-3 a few years ago, such was the ease and immediacy of the first goal, perhaps in the players minds we thought it was going to be easier than it was and we dropped off a little, letting York in. We will never know. We needed to respond to York’s second goal, the way they responded to our goal but we couldn’t quite do it. There were chances we couldn’t quite click. Blair and Chambers have been thorns in our side all year and so it was kind of inevitable that they’d get the goals. At least we won’t have to play York and both of their fans next year we are spared that at least. I’ll not labour the point, but whilst they are a proper team, they’ve no history and a tiny fanbase their turnout today was embarrassing compared to ours. It grates a little, but there you go.
What we do know is that having worked with the players for eight games now, Mr Buckle does have a first team and a settled formation something we never got under his predecessor. We also do have players who go into their shells a bit which I am sure he will want to address in the next few days and weeks when shaping his team for next year.
That’s six consecutive season’s of relegation or play off heartache. We already know that we are the biggest side to have played in non-league, the only side to have played in the top division for ten years and to have won a major trophy to end up in the fifth tier and now six successive seasons of things going against us. What other fans have ever had such luck? What other club would send 30,000 to Wembley at the tail end of such a run? There’s only one Luton Town, unique in British footballing history. What the fans have shown is that however much we have to put up with we just get on with it. Mirrors the people of the town itself I guess in a way too. Bearing in mind what we have put up with, I think we are permitted a little grumble now and again.
So where do we go from here? We have a huge squad which I am sure will be trimmed Mr Buckle will have his own ideas as to who he wants to bring in, and working with Lil I am sure he will make some exciting signings. What I am confident of is that next season we will be in a position to be much more consistent, fitter and will put the poor sides to the sword much better than we did this year. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be the team that everyone one else is looking up to next year and trying to catch? Wrexham will still be strong, and will be smarting, Mansfield will be keen, Forest Green may splash the cash, but we should be the ones to watch. Whilst I couldn’t have said that with confidence this time last year I have a sneaky feeling that next year might just be our time. Not just because of the improved way we have played under PB but I refer you back to my dream I mentioned in here, that I had in August 2009. In the dream, I dreamt the unthinkable (at that time) that we wouldn’t go up for the first three seasons, but stormed the title in the fourth year, with a manager I hadn’t heard of at the helm. Well let’s hope the omens were true and next time I’ll put some money on it!
I’m gutted and hurting and hacked off. I’m disinclined to watch any footie over the summer, and hopefully I’ll be back and hungry for it when the pre-season friendlies come around.
Oh boy how I’m looking forward to Gateshead away and the delights of Braintree and their team of thugs again. Joy of joys. Here we go again…
Come on you Hatters.