Luton Town 2 Crystal Palace 1: Luton punching above weight

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Despite this win, Mike Newell said his club were "going nowhere", but that was in reference to Luton Town's inability to get investment in and improve the stadium as well as the playing staff. On wages, the Hatters manager reckons only Southend and Colchester, both newly promoted this year, pay out less money to their players in the Championship.

Yet on the pitch there is progress. This win pushed the impoverished Bedfordshire club up to joint fifth in the table, level on points and goal difference with the team they beat comfortably on Saturday afternoon.

And, as Newell pointed out, Crystal Palace had just paid out at least £1m, possibly more, on the striker Shefki Kuqi and could do so again if they wanted to. Meanwhile, Newell spent a third of that sum on Sam Parkin last month. Parkin lasted the whole match, Kuqi was pulled off after an ineffective hour, proof once more that Luton and Newell punch above their weight, unlike the bulky Kuqi.

Palace have stalled since showing promising early-season form. Since beating Leeds United, they have gleaned only a draw from three matches and have been knocked out of the Carling Cup, at home,by Notts County.

At least their manager, Peter Taylor, was not trying to put any gloss on their results in the last few weeks. He said: "We've lost to Birmingham and Luton and drawn with Burnley. It's not good enough to have one point from three games but my players have got a massive amount of character and I'm sure they'll bounce back. It's a massive game for us on Tuesday [at home against Southampton]."

Taylor did try to deflect some of the blame on to the officials, although not all of it. His side were opened up after two minutes, when Carlos Edwards took his chance, having followed up Parkin's header. Rowan Vine doubled the lead after an hour while James Scowcroft's header was in vain for the visitors, coming in injury time.

"The assistant referees couldn't wait to give Luton decisions," Taylor said. "I'm not saying that's the reason we lost the game but I was disappointed."

Goals: Edwards (2) 1-0; Vine (61) 2-0; Scowcroft (90) 2-1.

Luton Town (4-4-2): Beresford; Foley, Heikkinen, Barnett, Davis; Edwards, Robinson, Langley, Emanuel; Vine (Feeney, 85), Parkin. Substitutes not used: Brill (gk), Morgan, Brkovic, Keane

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Kiraly; Butterfield (Freedman, 63), Cort, Hudson, Granville; Soares, Fletcher (Hughes, 39), Kennedy, McAnuff; Kuqi (Morrison, 63), Scowcroft. Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Lawrence.

Referee: P Armstrong (Berkshire).

Booked: Crystal Palace: Scowcroft.

Man of the match: Edwards

Attendance: 9,187.