Jordan plan left in ruins by upstarts

Crystal Palace 1 Luton Town 2

Oh dear. Johnson did score, but it was not enough. Nowhere near enough, and Jordan's boast suddenly appears not only flash but foolish. Johnson's goal only cancelled out the effort of another striker, another 22-goal man last season, and another player constantly linked with a summer move. But Luton Town's Steven Howard - a 29-year-old journeyman through Tow Law Town, Hartlepool and Northampton before pitching up at Luton four years ago - cost two weeks of Johnson's wages, and probably now earns about a tenth of them himself.

That delicious irony only added extra satisfaction to the newly elevated club's afternoon and added misery to that of promotion favourites Palace, who eventually lost to a scruffy toe-poke from Ahmed Brkovic.

Before the match, the Palace manager, Iain Dowie, referred to Johnson as the club's "favourite son". There has indeed been something very personal in the desire to keep him. His signing was clearly the most significant of the summer, and was seen as a message of intent to the rest of the division as well as a sign of the cussed determination of Jordan.

That spilled over within a dozen seconds of this match with Michael Hughes booked for tangling with the Luton captain, Kevin Nicholls. The incident seemed to discomfit Palace. They struggled to find their stride and conceded early corners to a lively Luton side.

They should also have conceded a goal. On 22 minutes Luton's Steve Robinson wriggled free only to be tugged back by Gary Borrowdale, who simply panicked. The midfielder still got his shot away - screwing it wide - but the referee, Phil Dowd, waited and gave the penalty. Nicholls' side-footed effort was weak and easily read by the goalkeeper, Gabor Kiraly, who dived low to his left.

The home relief was palpable and, towards the half-hour, Johnson got his first shot away - volleying into the side-netting from Ben Watson's through-ball. Palace had partnered him with their new signing Jon Macken, and the former Manchester City striker released Johnson and then Watson for half-chances, while Mark Hudson wasted free headers from corners.

Palace's best hopes lay with the indecision in the Luton defence. In one incident the 19-year-old goalkeeper Dean Brill - in for the injured Marlon Beresford - cannoned the ball off his own defender and straight to Johnson, whose own effort struck a Luton player. It summed up the paucity of the game. Yet Luton should, again, have taken the lead when Brkovic was sent through by Nicholls' header. Once more the side-footed effort lacked any conviction.

On half-time Luton got their reward. From a Nicholls free-kick, the striker Howard was left, startlingly unmarked, to head powerfully past Kiraly with the Palace players stranded. It was maddening defending. The interval whistle was met with boos.

Two minutes after the restart and Brkovic was, again, profligate. He twisted, turned, delayed, created half a yard, then another half, only to drag his shot wide eventually. Palace finally stirred. From a free-kick, won through Jobi McAnuff's trickery, Johnson spun and forced a diving save from Brill. The corner came in, Hudson flicked the ball on and Johnson's header guided it in for the equaliser.

Unbowed, Luton continued to push on, but they were almost caught by another McAnuff break. He set Hughes away and, as he shaped to shoot, Nicholls threw himself in the way. McAnuff then dug out a shot from the corner only for it to drift past the far post.

McAnuff then came even closer, but his back-post header was smartly held by Brill. As Palace pressed, Markus Heikkinen challenged Johnson, who went down. Palace's intense penalty claims were brushed aside. The woeful Hudson then conceded another free-kick. When it came in there was an almighty scramble. The ball eventually fell to Brkovic, who pushed it over the line for Luton's deserved win.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone