* The Luton v Deckchairs Play-off Semi-Final 2nd Leg Thread *


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You may remember back in September, Rob Edwards was touted by the "media" as a possible candidate for the vacant Boro Head Coach job. But little did anyone know that Edwards would end up looking at taking Luton Town into the Play-Off Final at Wembley? The odds must have been almost as long as Leicester`s 5000-1 to win the Premier League. But we know ourselves, they are no easy prey for anyone in the Championship. Edwards inherited a core of players who have stayed with Luton through their rise up the leagues. With a few players added and tweaks here and there, he has fine-tuned them into a hard-to-beat unit.

Starting back in July with a 0-0 draw at home to Birmingham, they then drew away 1-1 at future Champions-to-be Burnley. What followed was a pattern: they would go four of five games unbeaten, then lose the next two or three. Very frustrating if you`re a fan. But they never gave up. Winning becomes a habit. Before Christmas, they beat Swansea, Cardiff, Blackburn, Hull, QPR, Norwich, Blackpool and finishing the year off with another win over Norwich. One of the few defeats around December was 2-1 to Boro at the Riverside. Crooks and Akpom sending the Hatters packing. In the league - between Boxing Day and the end of the season - Luton lost only two games: a last minute 3-2 defeat to West Brom at Kenilworth Road in January and defeat to Champions elect Burnley 1-0. What a record.

They deservedly made third place in the final Championship table - against all the odds. Now its the real deal. We know Sunderland beat them by a one goal margin on Wearside. But it took them an hour before they were in front and they weathered a fierce attack as Luton tried to get the equaliser. Tonight its Luton`s turn to use the energy and hostility at Kenilworth Road, to upset the Deckchairs and push on to the Final at Wembley. These games always have their twists and turns. Just look at what Peterborough did to Sheffield Wednesday. The play-offs arent a "lottery", no matter what the papers say. Its a knock-out competition at the end of the season. It keeps the fires burning, the fans buzzing and hoping for a chance of joining the Premier League.

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Rob Edwards


Hatters boss Rob Edwards believes that our home fans can play a big role in the second leg of our play-off semi-final against Sunderland at Kenilworth Road.

The home advantage will be crucial as it was in the first leg, as Edwards explained: “The smaller pitch changes the game slightly because obviously the distances aren’t as big, but there’s still enough room there for them to try and play their game, it’s just a little bit of distance. We’re used to playing there, so it should suit us a little bit more.

“I think the atmosphere was amazing for the Watford game, if we can use that as a model and notch it up a bit more again that would be what I’d like, and what we need as well. I think that was a great advert for how the Kenny is when it’s at its best.”

The Hatters have had three days to highlight changes that can be made going into the second leg as Edwards said, “We’ll try and be the best version of the team that finished third in the league this year, that’s it, we want to attack the game, we know we have to win it to stand any chance of going through, so it’s pretty easy for us, so our task is very similar to a normal league game, we want to try and attack it and win the game, obviously now this is a bit of a final if you like, because there’s something at the end of it.

“Going into the semi-final, we wanted to win it, we wanted to be in the best position possible, but at the same time, going away, to the Stadium of Light, you want to be in the tie and we’re in the tie.

“We didn't keep the ball well enough and we weren’t quite as aggressive as we normally are, so we were a little bit more mid-press if you like rather than high and a lot of our transitions, we gave the ball back too quickly and too cheaply, so that was the main reason why, in saying that, and we could be a lot better in the second half, they score the goal from a short corner routine, they didn’t open us up, for all the really good players that they’ve got, they didn’t create many chances, or any chance from open play, so that will give us a lot of belief as well.”

There was positivity from the Luton Town gaffer, who was asked about the chances the home side have of qualifying for the Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium.

“Of course we can win, we’ve got 90-plus minutes to win a game of football and we’ve done that pretty well this season, we believe completely still. We know it’s a difficult task, we know they are a good team, but we’re in the play-offs, we expect it to be a challenge.

“We didn’t think it was ever going to be a walkover or anything like that. We’re one-down going into the home leg, but we’re more than capable of winning this game of football.”

Tony Mowbray

As reported in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle:
15th May 2023

Attack is the best form of defence for Sunderland says Tony Mowbray ahead of Luton play-off clash

"I think we did amazingly well to come out on top in the first game," said Mowbray. "I'm not anticipating too much different tomorrow.

"It's a tighter environment, of course, and if anything Luton might double down on what they do, on how they play. We have to try and do the same, really.

"As I've said all season, we don't have a Plan B like putting a quick guy up top and turning them round all the time. We'll play as we play and we'll try to create opportunities.

"We'll be going to try and win, and be positive and play our game."

The lack of options brings a certain clarity to the situation from Mowbray's point of view, but he says it also means Luton will know what to expect. "The opposition know that as well, of course," he said of Sunderland's lack of a Plan B.

"I'm very conscious about talking about tactics because the opposition manager will take note of what I'm saying too, I'm pretty sure. He'll know - they are pressing high, pushing six men up against our goal-kicks and making us kick long. To who? To a 5ft 8in centre-forward, to a 5ft 6in winger.

"So it can focus the opposition on what they have to do. The challenge for us is to play through that press and create chances, which we have generally been able to do."

While Sunderland will not change their approach, the fact that Luton are behind in the tie will mean that they cannot sit back and that might mean there are gaps that the Black Cats can exploit. Mowbray said: "It should suit us. But it won't suit us if they keep banging the ball into our box and they keep winning the first contact and keep scrambling around and we have to hook it away because it is too chaotic to pick a pass to get us away.

"I genuinely sit here and think 'let's go and try and play our game, under the pressure, in the heat'. Let's try and get the first pass away, let's try and get control.

"But that's easier said than done in the chaos of a match on a tight pitch with the crowd screaming at you from a few yards away. We have to be brave enough to put our foot on the ball, pick a pass, and ease the pressure.

"It's a good game for their careers, these younger players, to see if they can cope with it. What will be, will be."

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The last time Luton won a second leg at home, after losing the first, was in 1998 v Ipswich in the League Cup.
Ipswich equalised in the 119th minute of extra time and Marvin Johnson won it for the Hatters in the 120th !!!!

"This Is Our Home" - Luton Town

This is our home.
Where we have stood through moments that define us Moments of heartbreak Moments of joy.
A place where when the whistle blows Nothing else matters
The roar of the crowd A tough place to come to and at times, teams have struggled to cope.
A fortress where players can hear every voice 10,000 feels like 60,000
Under the lights are where memories are made
When they have wrote us off, we’ve never wrote back
We have had our hard times
But when we’ve need YOU the most You’ve always delivered
Even times when we think we’re down and out A hero makes his mark!
We have always defied the odds Kenilworth Road, our home for 118 years.
A place where generations have come together.
Together for the town.
Together, as one.
We need you more than ever.
This is our town.
This is OUR home.

I always think with Sunderland they are either unplayable or really poor. The past 3-4 games its been almost unplayable. That said, They wont have as much space tonight on that pitch, it will be a brilliant atmosphere and Luton must fancy themselves to score.

I do feel though Sunderland will catch them on a break and the front three can be deverstating.

Head - 1-1 tonight and Sunderland through.
Heart - 4-0 Luton
I wouldn't mind seeing Sunderland finish the job tonight.

They deserve begrudging credit for pulling off what they have with an injury list which could have played havoc with their season.

I think tonight it will catch up with them. Luton to win 2-0.
I’m old enough to remember that Luton were promoted in 2nd place behind the mighty Boro in 1973/74, along with Carlisle 😳
Having observed the Sunlun players getting off their coach - I wonder if they will take the battering and tackles of Luton for at least 90 minutes.:unsure: