Luton Town 2 Crystal Palace 1: Vine leaves Palace with taste of defeat

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The Independent Football

Luton's two wins over Crystal Palace last season did not ultimately prevent the Eagles reaching the play-offs and at this distance it is impossible to say what effect this defeat will have on the south London side.

However, after a year of acquitting themselves favourably in the Championship, and after a performance such as this, it should be Luton with the aspirations of reaching the top six. Not that Mike Newell, the Hatters' manager, ever likes to get drawn on such matters so early in the campaign, preferring to dwell on the present.

They were still repairing the pitch 20 minutes before kick-off but clearly Luton's players are used to some of life's little inconveniences and they were not going to let a little thing like a divot put them out of their stride. Crystal Palace certainly weren't going to either, because within 60 seconds of the start, the visitors conceded.

Last month, Newell acquired Sam Parkin, once a prolific goal-scorer with Swindon but less so latterly with Ipswich, and it was from the Suffolk side that the Luton manager brought him.

He proved he has settled quickly into life at his new club when he headed a lofted ball back to Carlos Edwards. The Trinidad & Tobago international ran on to it and while the Palace defenders were pondering an offside appeal, Edwards drilled his shot past Gabor Kiraly.

It took an hour for Luton to double their lead and it was surprisingly easy as Peter Taylor's side showed themselves once more to have a soft underbelly. Richard Langley picked out Rowan Vine, who was 18 yards out and with his back to goal. He turned Mark Hudson with ease and found the space between Kiraly and his near post. It was quick and simple.

Taylor was disappointed afterwards, saying: "We can't come here and let Luton pass it around but they deserve credit. However, we defended badly for their goals."

Seven minutes later, Palace withdrew Shefki Kuqi, but Dougie Freedman was just as ineffective, volleying over from 10 yards. Leon Cort then hit the crossbar from close range with 10 minutes left after Mark Kennedy's free-kick and with that went Palace's chances of extracting a point. James Scowcroft did finally beat Marlon Beresford in the second minute of injury time but the lack of celebrations showedit was all in vain.

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