Category Archives: Luton Town

Nottingham Forest 3 – Luton 1

Nottingham Forest came from behind to beat bottom of the table Luton Town to move 5 points within the second automatic promotion spot with a game in hand, that game ahead is on Wednesday Night against Reading at The City Ground.

The prospect of that gap being 2 points is quite remarkable when you consider it was as big as 14 points in December when Forest were in the midst of a traditional slump during that month. However, unlike previous seasons, the slump has not continued post-Christmas – Forest winning 4 and drawing 1 since then. Along with second-placed Leeds going through another traditional slump in form has meant Forest are not out of the automatic promotion contention.

However, if they are to achieve this target they will have to improve performances, today’s match was another example of Forest not dominating the play but finding a way to win. They started slowly and allowed Luton early possession and pressure which led to Luton taking a deserved lead through Harry Cornick after 23 minutes. The goal came from the area where Luton were looking most dangerous, with a cross from the left-hand side from Potts.

The first half was a physical battle in midfield which Luton were largely winning, however, when Forest’s Ben Watson won one of these battles, Luton complained it was a foul but Forest played on and a superb cross-field pass from Yuri Ribero found Joe Lolley who ran at his full-back and fired a shot which was not handled by Luton keeper Simon Sluga, who should have done a lot better.

Forest improved massively after the half time break being on the front for much of it, the pressure told when Lolley scored with a fantastic strike into the top corner from outside the box after Watson’s good pass found him on the right-wing from where he cut inside before finishing. Lolley was a constant threat in the second half, running past players every time he got the ball. He created more chances to extend the lead and put the game beyond doubt but efforts from Tiago Silva and Sammy Ameobi went just wide.

Luton came slightly back into it in the last 10 minutes but Forest won a penalty with just minutes remaining when Silva’s free-kick struck Sonny Bradley’s hand in the wall. Lewis Grabban converted to get grab his 15th goal of the season to secure the 3 points.

Oh how much you’ve grown…

Belgium’s ex-assistant manager, Ivory Coast’s current assistant manager, Chelsea and Man City players on loan, an FA Cup winning midfielder and now an international goal scorer. Perhaps a low to mid table Premier League team? Maybe a top 2 level championship club? Wrong on both accounts. It’s Luton Town Football Club.

6 years ago today, Leicester City and Burnley were on course for promotion back to the Premier League and 5 current Premier League teams were playing in the Championship. Luton Town on the other hand, were playing and losing 2-0 away to Wrexham. Alex Wall was sent off that day, and as he walked down the tunnel I doubt anyone could have imagined the meteoric rise that would take place in the next 6 years.

In the week that James Collins made a scoring debut for the Republic of Ireland, it is only right that Luton fans remember the work that has gone in to reach the frankly dizzying heights of the Championship.

However, it is equally important to look to the future, and boy does it look bright. A new stadium under construction, a new retail park to help fund it. The playing squad is young and exciting and, most importantly, owners who are not willing to put the club’s future at risk for the sake of immediate glory.

It is easy to forget that just 6 years ago the Town were non-league. The international break was proceeded by back to back wins against two of last seasons premier league bottom three in Cardiff and Huddersfield.

Carabao Cup: Round One Draw Announced

The Carabao Cup Round One draw was made on Thursday evening from Morrisons, Colindale, North West London.

There were two stand out ties from the draw with AFC Wimbledon playing MK Dons, while newly-promoted Salford City will face Leeds United.

The draw was conducted by two former England internationals in John Barnes and Ray Parlour and was split into two regions – North and South.

Huddersfield Town, the hightest-ranked team in the Northern Section, will face Lincoln City while the highest ranked Southern side, West Bromwich Albion, will face Millwall.

Every club from Sky Bet League One and League Two enter the Carabao Cup in Round One, along with 22 Championship clubs.

Only Cardiff City and Fulham – who finished 18th and 19th respectively in the Premier League last season, will enter in Round Two, alongside the clubs from the Premier League, not in European competitions.

The first round matches are scheduled to take place week commencing Monday 12thAugust, with the final due to take place on March 1, 2020.

Full Round One Draw can be seen below:

North Draw

Tranmere Rovers v Hull City

Grimsby Town v Doncaster Rovers

Wigan Athletic v Stoke City

Port Vale v Burton Albion

Nottingham Forest v Fleetwood Town

Bradford City v Preston North End

Blackpool v Macclesfield Town

Blackburn Rovers v Oldham Athletic

Mansfield Town v Morecambe

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland

Scunthorpe United v Derby County

Rochdale v Bolton Wanderers

Huddersfield Town v Lincoln City

Middlesbrough v Crewe Alexandra

Shrewsbury Town v Rotherham United

Sheffield Wednesday v Bury

Salford City v Leeds United

Barnsley v Carlisle United

South Draw

Colchester United v Swindon Town

AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons

Oxford United v Peterborough United

Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City

Plymouth Argyle v Leyton Orient

Wycombe Wanderers v Reading

Charlton Athletic v Forest Green Rovers

Gillingham v Newport County

Stevenage v Southend United

Luton Town v Ipswich Town

Walsall v Crawley Town

Bristol Rovers v Cheltenham Town

Brentford v Cambridge United

Coventry City v Exeter City

Swansea City v Northampton Town

The Championship: In a league of it’s own?

The gulf between the Premier League and the rest of the EFL has been well documented, and in recent seasons it has only continued to grow. However, it seems as though the jump from League 1 to the Championship is almost in the same ballpark now. I’m going to take a look at the finances and see how the newly promoted League 1 clubs (Luton, Barnsley and Charlton) could fair in the battleground that is the English Championship.

Let’s take wages as an example. The average basic wage in the Championship is around £330,000 a year, working out at about £6,300 a week. While this is nowhere near the dizzying heights of Premier League wages, it makes the £70,000 a year average for League 1 look rather small. That works out at £1,346 a week: a significant gulf is starting to emerge. The same can be said for agents’ fees. Last season, League 1 clubs paid a total of £2,611,647 to agents in a bid to sign players. That sounds like a lot money doesn’t it? So, what if I told you Aston Villa alone spent £5,510,180. That’s more than double the League 1 figure. So how can clubs be expected to thrive in the Championship on a League 1 Budget? I’m going to have a look at some past examples to see how clubs have fared making that jump.

In 2015-16, Wigan Athletic won League 1 to secure promotion to the Championship. By the end of the next season, they had regained their League 1 status, finishing 9 points adrift of safety. Then the next season, they were back up again. What does this yoyo tell us about the difficulty clubs have in maintaining themselves at Championship level?

It is obviously not impossible though. Some teams promoted from League 1 in recent memory include Wolves (Premier League), Bournemouth (Premier League), Huddersfield (Championship) and Brighton (Premier League). So it can be done. The newly promoted teams will face a level of competition and finances that they are not used to, so how will they get on?

Luton Town

Luton’s story has been quite remarkable. From the infamous -30 points season of 08/09, to near bankruptcy and then to 3 promotions in 6 years (going up from League 2 and League 1 in successive campaigns). They came into League 1 with a decent budget, but there were limited expectations. The budget and spending placed them around the playoffs, so to go on and win the league was a massive achievement. They are a prime example of how important good ownership is to a football club, and so my predicted finish for The Hatters in the Championship is 15th.

Barnsley

Barnsley have Championship experience as recently as 2017-18, being relegated after some ownership problems led to the selling of 80% of the club and the sacking of Assistant Manager Tommy Wright. New ownership gave the club momentum, as did the appointing of manager Daniel Stendel. Given the calibre of player that Barnsley have (some were retained from the Championship), my prediction for the Tykes is 13th.

Charlton

Charlton’s promotion was thanks to a unified group of players and management, and in spite of their owners. Protests continue against the owners off the pitch, but on it they were one of the best footballing sides in the league. The troubles with the owners may well make it difficult to make quality signings and investments, so a lot of trust will have to be put in the players that got them into the Championships to keep them there. My predicted finish for the Addicks is 18th.

Why has Jorge Grant failed at Mansfield Town?

When Jorge Grant signed for the Stags back in January on a loan deal till the end of the season, the transfer was met with much praise from Mansfield fans and left other League Two clubs envious of the shrewd business that the Nottinghamshire-based side had done to acquire the talents of Grant. However, after four months at the club, it appears Grant has split options at the One Call Stadium with some fans smitten by his skillful on-the-ball ability and dead-ball prowess. On the other hand, some of the Mansfield faithful have questioned his commitment and attitude towards playing for the Stags.

Grant joined Mansfield back in January on a loan deal until the end of the season from fellow Nottinghamshire-based club, Nottingham Forest. Grant had started the season out on loan at newly promoted Luton Town. However, after failing to establish a first-team spot in Nathan Jones’ side, Grant was recalled back to Forest who wanted to send the 24-year-old attacking midfield out on loan to gain key crucial game time.

Mansfield, along with a plethora of other suitors in both League One and Two, wanted to sign the midfielder, however Mansfield acted swiftly to secure the signing. The Stags also had the help of another Forest loanee and friend of Jorge Grant, Tyler Walker. Walker convinced the Banbury born midfielder to sign for the Stags and it seemed to fans and pundits that this could be the golden combination to help Mansfield achieve promotion to League One.

The first few games for Grant were stupendous with the attacking midfielder showing his range of talents that he has at his disposal. In Grant’s first five games for the Stags, the on-loan Forest midfielder contributed to six goals. (4 goals & 2 assists) Fans couldn’t believe their eyes and felt Grant was the missing piece in the Mansfield promotion puzzle.

However, after a tremendous start, Grant would fail to provide a goal or an assist for 533 minutes of football and would see an increasing amount of criticism head his way. Grant eventually broke his dry spell with a corner ball that found the head of EFL team of the season member Krystian Pearce. However, Grant’s game wasn’t remembered for his assist rather for throwing a childlike strop as he was substituted after 59 minutes.

But why has Grant failed to fit in at Mansfield? It appears that Grant is a highly talented individual who has the ability to turn a game on its head however it appears Grant doesn’t fit in the Mansfield system when playing better quality opponents. Under David Flitcroft, Mansfield have played a 3-5-2 system or a 3-4-1-2. In this system, Grant plays the furthest forward midfielder who drifts wide allowing wingbacks to cut inside and allowing midfielders Bishop and Mellis space to run into.

This system when playing an inferior opponent suits Grant to a tee with the midfielder allowed a free role allowing him to find space and time on the ball. However, when playing a higher class opponent or one that overloads the midfield similar to the tactics adopted by Oldham on Easter Monday, it means Grant has to track back and drop back into a flatter midfield three.

Grant has struggled to do this job. It just doesn’t suit his play style and leads to Mansfield being overrun in the middle of the park and the Stags being forced to carry a man for large parts of the game. If David Flitcroft wants to accommodate Grant into his side he would have to change from the reliable 3-5-2 and 3-4-1-2 that he has used all season and play Grant in either a left or right midfield role that Grant is much more accustomed to playing.

Case in point last season, the Banbury born midfielder racked up an impressive 19 goals and 9 assists playing for local rivals Notts County. During his loan spell with the Magpies Grant was deployed predominantly on the left side of midfield but also being used on the right.

With a wider role, Grant’s defensive responsibilities were reduced meaning he could concentrate on his attacking output however some County fans did question his effort during games starting at times that Grant was reluctant to track back.  

It’s clear to see Grant is a highly talented individual who can enthrall fans with his ability but lacks the correct attitude and defensive abilities to play in certain systems.  

Why do you think Jorge Grant has failed at Mansfield?