The game in short – neither side really dominated overall in a hard-fought game, the Dons seemed to have the better of the first half and Luton much more so the second, with the visitors shading the game and having the better of the few chances that were created. For the home team, Seb Brown once again showed his class, and attempts to counter in the second half could have been more fruitful had we shown a little more composure on the ball. While both sides picked up a point, then real winners tonight were Crawley Town…
Now that’s out of the way, lets add a little more flesh to those bones of a story. Did the Dons deserve their point? Of course as a Dons fan looking for positives I’m going to say ‘yes’, we certainly looked far more solid at the back than we did at Kenilworth Road back in September. The introduction of Jamie Stuart has played a big part in that, he looked the second best player in a Dons shirt last night and has now partnered first Franks, now Yakubu, and given the impression he has been part of the squad for years rather than just a few days.
Fraser Franks had a difficult evening playing left back, and under the circumstances he did well, but it must have been reassuring having a vastly experienced player just inside to talk him through what was one of the biggest games of his short career. Played out of position, I thought Franks had as good a game as can be expected, although its great to see TB was immediately able to end the uncertainty surrounding the position by signing Gareth Gwillim.
Naturally the earlier comment on Stuart being the best player on the pitch was in now way intended as a slight on him, but more an indication of the performance of Sebb Brown. When your goalkeeper is voted man of the match, and the opposition have also managed to hit the woodwork a couple of times, regardless of what we thought we deserved I get the impression our opponents went away wondering how they didn’t claim the points.
Regardless, the Dons kept another clean sheet, the only problem being we were blanked at the other end for the second game running. Going forward we showed our inexperience at times, we shouldn’t forget this was a very slightly different game to what the majority of the squad were used to. Having the confidence to get the ball down and take it round a player is one thing, but on several occasions Dons players rode a challenge, but in the process knocked the ball slightly too far, having to win a fifty/fifty, and so on.
I put this down to the game being slightly faster than the average Conference fixture, that Luton were pressing us and getting in our faces that split second quicker, but it could equally be put down to that extra bit of adrenaline giving them a heavier than normal touch. Either way, it didn’t seem to affect the more experienced Luton players. Having said that, the visitors did leave some inviting gaps at the back during the last fifteen minutes or so in their desire to pick up maximum points, and a little bit of composure could have paid dividends.
In terms of title contenders, I hate to ever admit that Steve Evans is right about anything and really hope our squad can go on and prove him wrong, but on last nights showing it looked as if Luton might well be the only team able to stand in the way of the monied chumps. A victory for Luton in their game in hand will as it stands take them above us, and even if Crawley slip up on Saturday against Kettering, with their games in hand it surely won’t be long before they pass us too.
Accepting third place is showing no lack of ambition on our part either, it would actually be a massive achievement, especially if we have the opportunity for a run in the Trophy. Should we miss out on promotion this year, lets not forget that’s definitely no failure. Missing out on the playoffs would be disappointing, especially in the position we find ourselves now, but the chances are with our daunting looking next half-dozen games that we could find ourselves ending the month closer points-wise to the sixth place team than the leaders….
So much to write about in what was an eventful game for a goalless draw, and so little time to write about it, darn employment… I never go the chance to write about Yakubu’s impromptu freestyle breakdance juggling in his own penalty area that almost set up Barnes-Homer. Nor the fact that the only referee deemed neutral enough to take charge of such a fixture appeared to be a very close relative of Richard Brodie. This match report is going to spill into the Woking preview (otherwise there won’t be one), so I’ll probably touch on a few of the topics I missed out…