Watford 1 Luton Town 1: Boothroyd stays defiant after Brkovic saves Luton

Click to follow
The Independent Football

In a derby that was curiously tepid, it perhaps reflected the fact that Luton, for all their achievements after promotion last year, had already virtually conceded defeat in the play-off race. Meanwhile, Boothroyd will not give up on the mathematical chance of catching Sheffield United for the second automatic promotion position.

He said: "I'm not thinking about the play-offs. The teams around us have tough games so we still have a chance. We want progress and that means going up."

Mike Newell, the Luton manager, was content with a point but he voiced his disappointment at what his side have achieved over the season. A promising start that took them into the top three petered out around the turn of the year and they have not been in contention for a top-six place since then, having been hampered by injuries to important players such as the captain Kevin Nicholls.

Newell said: "I was happy with the performance here and we got something out of the game. Six or seven of these and we would have been closer to the play-offs.

"I'm disappointed with what we've done overall. I wanted to be where Watford are. I know what we are capable of."

Newell confirmed that he had not yet signed a new contract and added: "If the club has ambition they might want to keep me and the players who are running out of contract."

The game never displayed the levels of vitriol expected and when Watford took the lead nine minutes before the interval it appeared that the becalmed atmosphere suited Boothroyd's side perfectly. Ashley Young, a spritely presence on the left, found Marlon King, who, on Augusta Masters weekend, executed a delightful chip to beat Marlon Beresford.

Watford had survived a few scares thanks to the uncertainty of their own goalkeeper Ben Foster and his poor clearances, but lost their lead 17 minutes from time. A long ball to the far post fell to Ahmet Brkovic and the Croatian slipped his shot inside the far post.

Malky Mackay thought he had secured victory with a header three minutes from time but it was disallowed for offside and King then forced a fine save from Beresford. Newell said that Watford would be hard to beat in the play-offs, but the Hornets will need to find a little extra sting if they are to earn promotion.

Goals: King (36) 1-0; Brkovic (73) 1-1.

Watford (4-4-2): Foster; Doyley, DeMerit, Mackay, Stewart (Chambers, 67); Eagles (Bangura, 67), Mahon, Spring, Young; King, Henderson. Substitutes not used: Chamberlain (gk), Carlisle, McNamee.

Luton Town (4-4-2): Beresford; Foley, Perrett, Heikkinen, Davis (Barnett, 17); Edwards, Showunmi, Robinson, Brkovic; Feeney (Vine, 69), Howard. Substitutes not used: Brill (gk), Morgan, Holmes.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Watford Doyley, King; Luton Showunmi, Howard.

Man of the match: King.

Attendance: 15,922.