Football: Luton survive

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The Independent Online
Luton Town. . . . . . . .3

West Bromwich Albion. . .2

OF COURSE dog will eat dog when survival instincts are strained to this extreme, but maybe this was taking things too far. Two sendings-off, two goalkeeping casualties and two sublime individual goals made for an extraordinary game in which Luton guaranteed their place in the First Division. West Bromwich have to win their final fixture at Portsmouth on Sunday to be sure of theirs.

Enough incident was squeezed into the 90 minutes to satisfy the most jaundiced customer. Still there was more, Mitchell Thomas and Gary Strodder swapping punches and being shown the red card as injury time extended to a sixth minute. By then, three players were back in the dressing-room and en route to hospital.

With Luton comfortably ahead at the interval through David Preece, there was no hint of the drama to come. Bob Taylor, with a dynamic run from the half-way line, drew Albion level before we began counting the injured.

Albion's Daryl Burgess collided with Juergen Sommer and was taken off on a stretcher with concussion, a complaint which forced the Luton keeper to bow out five minutes later.

Amazingly only another 60 seconds had elapsed when Stuart Naylor was left prone after diving at the feet of John Hartson and went off with a fractured cheekbone. His replacement, Tony Lange, had still to touch the ball when Julian James headed in from a corner.

Hartson extended Luton's lead with a superb shot on the turn but still Albion were not done for. Kevin Donovan matched Taylor's strides with a mazy run and, although he was unable to finish off, Lee Ashcroft was there to pick the rebound off the post.

Luton Town (4-4-2): Sommer (Petterson, 65); James, Peake, Dreyer, Thomas; Telfer, Harper, Preece, Hughes; Oakes (Thorpe, 90), Hartson. Substitute not used: Linton.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Naylor (Lange, 68); Parsley, Strodder, Burgess (Mellon, 60), Darton; McNally, Hamilton, Donovan, Smith; Ashcroft, Taylor. Substitute not used: Hunt.

Referee: P Danson (Leicester).