Luton 5 Swans 3

Saturday, 17 February 2001, 0:01
3 mins read

A little while back I said that following the Swans was never dull but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional rollercoaster ride at Luton today. The concensus before the game was that the defence was weakened by absentees so there were likely to be goals and, most of all it was crucial not to gift an early goal. So it was with some disbelief to see us 2 down after nine minutes – and all our own work. It also pains me to report Roger as the culprit for goal 1.

A Luton centre had rebounded and was slowly falling to ground about ten yards out. Mansell and O’Leary were beneath it when Rog decided he could get it. He couldn’t. It bounced again and the Luton player got a half knee to it. It bounced very slowly into the now unguarded net. The second was a simple far post corner which was allowed to fall to shin height. I don’t believe Douglas reached it ahead of De Vulgt – more it bounced off his leg and into the net. What a nightmare! Apart from these two aberrations

Swansea were quietly taking control of the match. The ball was being stroked around nicely and Roberts, Savarese and Verscahve were creating problems for a mobile but slow witted Luton defence. It wasn’t long before a cross came to Savarese who’d slipped his marker and the ball flew goalward.

Our view was obscured by a pillar and a couple of players so it took a little while to realise that the goalie hadn’t got to it and we were back in the game. The home crowd (the first noisy one of the season for me) was hushed and the sound of “Come on City” rang around the ground from the 500 odd away fans.

The pattern of Swansea domination continued throughout the second half against, what looked a very poor Luton side. Chances were relatively few but we looked sharp and with a better rub of the ball might have nicked a second. Reasonable optimism at half time mixed with concern that our defence was still fragile.

Fabiano came on for Jenkins at half time to play on the right. This may have left us a bit lopsided with Jason Price on the left. Three at the back now with DeVulgt, Bound and O’Leary.

On 51 minutes a long Luton ball fell to George (?). Bound retreated in front of him, and retreated, and retreated. By now O’leary and got back to cover but George got in a shot which rebounded for Mansell to score easily. Surely that was it.

Luton confidence was back up. But we continued to play the better football and one of the best Swansea goals I’ve ever seen was about to raise our hopes once again.

By now Price had departed (unseen) to be replaced by Cusack (Why?) and we were playing 3 -5-2. A fabulous ball out of defence by Bound (?) down the left saw a race between Verschave and two big Luton defenders. Verschave got there just ahead and moved the ball infield (a la Gazza vs Scotland, Wembley, Euro 96). He twisted between the two defenders to race infield and collect his own pass, took the ball cleanly around a third defender before shooting hard. The goalkeeper could only parry the shot to where three Swansea players were waiting to drill the ball into the empty net. Sheer ecstasy. We’re back in it. But it was not to be.

We were clearly lopsided at the back. Watkin was now on for Lacey in a 3-4-3 formation and the gap for midfield to cover was too much. Luton scored a cracking fourth goal on a predictable breakout.

But we still looked as if we could score and we did. A goal mouth scuffle gradually homed in on the six yard box. It looked like 5 Swansea players involved with a series of agonising swipes before a boot stuck out and prodded it home. Savarese again. So again the hopes are raised but this time it was just two minutes before they were dashed again. Another sloppy goal with our defence failing to deal with an attack down our left. We couldn’t get it clear and it eventually fell to George who clipped a weak shot just inside the far post. This was one step too far. The players found it as difficult as the fans to raise themselves yet again and Luton finished the more dangerous.

A very dejected set of away supporters slunk from the ground at full time to ponder what on earth could be drawn from such a bizarre match.

A note of caution. I wanted to get some details up as soon as poss. The game was so eventful that I have almost certainly mixed up some of the events in the “match report”. Some of the events have also been permanently erased from my brain to help numb the pain.

 

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.
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