The LDV Clash - A Luton Fan's View
14th October, 2003
Ahead of the repeat of last season's marathon cup tie between the sides, a Luton fan based in Stevenage offers a visitors view on the game in hand:
After the events of the summer most Hatters fans are just glad to have a club to watch! Change of ownership, Formula 1 tracks, 70,000 seater stadiums, boss idol, wage deferments, administrative receivership....you couldn't make it up if you tried! All of this down to one man - John Gurney. I won't talk too much about him and his non-existent "mystery" consortium. Suffice to say even the football league compliance unit stopped us receiving league sponsorship money as they weren't happy with the new owners. Still, as soon as a billionaire takes over Chelsea then all the talk is of putting measures in place to ensure "right and proper" ownership - pity they didn't think about it earlier....
With Luton still in administrative receivership until new owners are found, then the club is operating on a day to day basis with a transfer embargo in place. Any loan signings have to be sanctioned by the football league and we are not allowed to sign anyone permanently. The squad, as it stands, is paper-thin having released 6 first-team squad members in the summer and lost Tony Thorpe to QPR in acrimonious circumstances at the end of August.
With the squad down to the bare bones I would imagine that Mike Newell will rest as many key players as possible but will still be forced to put out a fairly strong team.
My team prediction:-
GK - Dean Brill - 17 year old with a very big future
LB - Sol Davis - Nasty piece of work! Last game before a 3 match ban
CB - Emerson Boyce - Normall plays right-back. Watch for his surging runs
CB - Chris Coyne - The Aussie bully - footballing centre-half.
RB - Ian Hillier - Blows hot and cold, outstanding game followed by a poor game. Throws further than Jude!
LM - Courtney Pitt - Lightning quick and good balance. Touch of an elephant
CM - Michael Leary - Combatative central midfield player - still a youth
CM - Steve Robinson - Frequently played out of position on the right - has
been out with a long-term injury.
RM - Lee Mansell - Burst on the scene as a 18 year old, but then went
backwards for a while
CF - Enoch Showumni - Hightower! All arms and legs! Would be a good
CF - Matthew Judge - Youth team striker who may get the nod for this game.
Goalkeeper - Robert Beckwith - Only 19 and current 1st choice keeper.
Forward - Gary McSheffrey - The Chef! Superb player on loan from Coventry -
who strangely want rid of him?
Midfield - Ahmet Berkovic - Only seems to score against lower league
Midfield - Paul Hughes - Fist team regular this season, may be on the bench
Midfield/Defence - Kevin Foley - another youngster who has been playing
regularly in the first team.
Other players who may feature depending on injury's
Russ Perrett - Centre back has played in the last 3 games since returning
from injury - he'll probably be rested.
Matthew Spring - Midfield lynchpin - when he plays well Luton play well.
Adrian Forbes - Winger who has been playing the last couple of games at
centre-forward in Howard's absence
Many thanks to 'Stevenage Hatter' for offering this article.
Putting the Nationwide Conference to one side for the time being, the healthy disruption that is Stevenage Borough's involvement in the LDV Trophy is upon us for yet another season, with the Broadhall Way side looking to recreate their exploits last season. Manager Wayne Turner saw his Boro' side defeat Third Division outfit Swansea City at Broadhall Way in the First Round season thanks to two goals in two minutes having fallen behind.
Having moved into the Second Round - and being one of very few Conference sides to do so, they drew a plum tie in the form of Luton Town at home. In what was perhaps the most exciting game of the season, a topsy-turvy encounter saw the Bedfordshire neighbours run out 4-3 winners thanks mainly to Ahmet Brkovic's hattrick. This season, Turner and his squad are pretty much gone, but Luton Town are back and Boro' are almost certainly out for revenge on what could prove to be another epic encounter of the two rivals.
Jason Goodliffe has been quoted in the Non League Paper as wanting Boro' to be the first Conference side to win the tournament, and he will be one of a small minority at Broadhall Way who survived the cull towards the end of last season. Likewise Simon Travis, Mark Westhead, and Simon Wormull. However, for Rocky Baptiste, it is a chance to go up against his former team having both had spells at Kenilworth Road.
Last season, the Hatters were in relatively poor form in Division Two. However, Mike Newell, the new Luton boss, has seemingly transformed the fortunes of the Luton side, who are in good form in the Second Division of late, and come into this fixture off the back of a 3-1 victory against Wycombe Wanderers. If Boro' are going to win this fixture, then it will need a massive improvement from the form that has seen just two wins in eight league games.
Boro' hope to welcome back Jason Goodliffe and Dino Maamria to the squad, after the pair missed the last three league games. Should Goodliffe return, the hosts for Tuesday will most probably revert back to the 3-5-2 system, with the consistent Simon Travis and Lee Flynn running the flanks. The midfield area will probably be the most important battlefield, and could see a return for new-signing Dean Brennan, a hard-tackling midfielder filling the void left by Steve Watson's injury. Simon Wormull's invention and Gary Holloway's enthusiasm will also be a tremendous asset.
Anthony Elding will hope to rediscover his scoring touch after a barren spell lasting back to the away-day at Halifax Town. Since then, Tony Battersby has scored two of Boro's four goals in that time and will be wanting to offload that burden. As for Luton, last year's hattrick hero Brkovic is away on international duty but Nathan Abbey has seemingly made the switch from Boro' to Luton and may be in contention for a starting place. Deadly striker Steven Howard is most definitely a player to be watching with a great deal of attention.
With a large travelling contingent expected, now is the time for all Boro' fans to make their voices heard. Form of late hasn't been great but here is an opportunity to stand up and be counted by beating a decent Luton team. Try and get to Broadhall Way because it isn't a game that you'd expect to disappoint!
Clash To Watch:
Steven Howard vs Lionel Perez: Lionel Perez has played very well of late, and was perhaps the key figure in keeping the scores level at Kingfield a week ago. However, in Howard, the Frenchman has to stop one of the Second Division's most habitual goalscorers and quite how successful he will be is to be discovered only on Tuesday.
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Probable Starting Line-Up
GK 16. Lionel Perez Apps: 8 (0) - Goals: 0 - Yellow: 0 - Red: 0
RWB 2. Simon Travis Apps: 14 (0) - Goals: 1 - Yellow: 1 - Red: 0
LWB 3. Lee Flynn Apps: 14 (0) - Goals: 0 - Yellow: 2 - Red: 0
CB 4. Nathan Bunce Apps: 9 (0) - Goals: 0 - Yellow: 3 - Red: 0
CB 5. Jason Goodliffe Apps: 8 (0) - Goals: 1 - Yellow: 1 - Red: 0
CB 6. Barry Laker Apps: 14 (0) - Goals: 0 - Yellow: 1 - Red: 0
RM 7. Simon Wormull Apps: 6 (0) - Goals: 0 - Yellow: 3 - Red: 0
CM 15. Dean Brennan Apps: 2 (0) - Goals: 0 - Yellow: 0 - Red: 0
LM 23. Gary Holloway Apps: 8 (4) - Goals: 2 - Yellow: 3 - Red: 1
CF 10. Tony Battersby Apps: 8 (1) - Goals: 3 - Yellow: 1 - Red: 0
CF 37. Anthony Elding Apps: 14 (0) - Goals: 8 - Yellow: 4 - Red: 0
CM 18. Danny Carroll Injured - Leg - 1 month
CM 34. Steve Watson Injured - Broken Ankle - 2 months
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Previous Form - Last Six Games
Stevenage Borough Luton Town
2 Won 3
3 Drawn 2
1 Lost 1
11 Goals For 11
7 Goals Against 8
9 Points 11
4 +/- 3
D D L W D W Run W W D L D W
Although form cannot be counted in such competitions, it does illustrate how well Luton are doing and how Boro' are failing to take their chances. In each of Boro's recent three draws, it can be argued that chances not taken account for the failure to win. Should that trait continue against the Hatters, it will cost dear.
The form table does not take into account Luton's near-miss in the Worthington Cup against Charlton Athletic at The Valley when the Hatters went down on penalties, so the conclusion must be that Boro' have a tough prospect ahead of them.
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Date Home Away
12/11/02 Stevenage Borough 3-4 Luton Town LDV2
As already documented, only one previous encounter between the two sides in last season's LDV Trophy in the Second Round.
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Bookmaker Home Win Draw Away Win
Betting To Follow
Home Win: To follow.
Draw: To follow.
Away Win: To follow.
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The rain is set to return for the early part of the week, so Tuesday may be an ideal day to stay under cover due to the showers expected. However, temperatures are still expected to hold up above the double figures mark, with 12 degrees celsius being the absolute high during the day, complimented by a light easterly wind. Sunset:
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Luton Town are in very good form, whereas Boro' are struggling to kill off teams which may be their fatal flaw on Tuesday night:
Stevenage Borough 1-3 Luton Town
Match report 12. Nobember 2002
(2) 3 Luton Town
Nicholls og 6, Pacquette 45, Scott 72 Thorpe 34, Brkovic 55, 57, 61
Date: Tuesday 12th November Referee: Mr. W. Jordan - 5
Competition: LDV Trophy Round 2 Attendance: 2,601
Stevenage Borough Luton Town
1. Mark Westhead - 7 16. Carl Emberson -
3. Stuart Fraser - 7 2. Aaron Skelton -
17. Jude Stirling - 8 31. Alan Kimble -
28. Gary MacDonald - 9 41. Kevin Foley (72) -
2. Simon Travis - 8 42. Joe Deeney -
7. Simon Wormull (69) - 7 21. Paul Hughes -
12. Richard Howell (45) - 7 8. Kevin Nicholls (45) -
27. Richard Scott - 7 18. Ahmet Brkovic -
15. Louis Riddle - 8 32. Lee Mansell (45) -
20. Jack Midson (57) - 6 9. Tony Thorpe -
22. Richard Pacquette - 8 20. Peter Hughes -
9. Kirk Jackson (69) - 6 6. Marvin Johnson (72) -
10. Jean-Michel Sigere (57) - 7 38. Michael Leary (45) -
24. Michael Blackwood (45) - 7 43. Matthew Judge (45) -
21. George Boyd - 45. Leon Garnett -
13. Phil Wilson (GK) - 1. Mark Ovendale (GK) -
After all the hype surrounding this local derby, it took a six-minute hattrick from Luton midfielder Ahmet Brkovic to end this season's flirtation with the LDV Trophy, which has served as a welcomed side-show to the underachievements of the league form.
But any pre-conceptions Hatters' fans must have had about a side second from bottom in the Conference, would have been blown away by truely magnificent and gutsy performance from the hosts. What's more is the fact that Boro' weren't even at full-strength, considering the injuries to key players such as Robin Trott and Matt Fisher, yet the side that took to the field showed the passion and commitment that could bring Boro' long-term success.
The hosts got off to a brilliant start, with barely five minutes on the clock. One would have thought that Jude Stirling lining up a long throw against his former team would have allowed Luton to expect what was to happen, but instead, the visiting defence got in all sorts of trouble, and eventually, midfielder Paul Nicholls turned the ball into his own net.
With the goal advantage, and the intense backing from the home faithful, Boro' set about a slick passing game and potent attacking moves which worked wonders in the framework of the new 3-5-2 formation. Stirling's long-throws continued to cause trouble in the Luton area, whilst Richard Scott, on his first start for Boro', went close with a volley.
At the other end, an unsighted Mark Westhead had to react quickly to deal with a Peter Holmes effort, but Luton failed to muster any real chances against a dominant Boro' side. However, with eleven minutes of the half remaining, the visitors found the equaliser from Tony Thorpe, who placed a looping header into the far corner of Westhead's goal.
Boro' could have easily collapsed at that point, and in all honesty, Luton fans did little to inspire their team, and on the stroke of half time, a spirited fight-back was rewarded with a second goal. Midson supplied Pacquette with the ball, who turned Skelton and closed in on goal before converting past the keeper.
After half-time, Boro' were perhaps forced into a substitution, where Richard Howell was replaced by Michael Blackwood. Luton also responded with two substitutions, and Boro' set about preserving their lead. It was Blackwood who forged the first real effort of the half, with a mazy run that got him a shooting opportunity, only to be denied by Emberson at full-stretch. On another day, that would have been the third goal, and game over for the visitors, but alas was not the case.
Moments later, with ten second-half minutes registered, Boro's three-man backline was caught out by the quick counter attacking of Luton, with Thorpe setting up Brkovic for the equaliser. Only two minutes more had passed before disaster struck, and Boro' trailed for the first time in the game, with Brkovic again on hand to convert Paul Hughes' cross, seemingly from an offside position.
The Boro' defence were now struggling to deal with the pace of the Luton attack, and reverted to 4-4-2 before Brkovic struck again. Nicholls' foray into the area was halted by Stirling, but the opportunity to clear wasn't taken, and the Croatian placed the ball past Westhead.
Jean-Michel Sigere was introduced to the attack for Jack Midson, before reverting to an unorthodox right-midfield role when Kirk Jackson replaced Simon Wormull. Boro' failed to lie down, even at 4-2 down with twenty minutes to go. The final period was set up nicely thanks to Richard Scott's wonderfully executed free-kick on 72 minutes, when it seemed to take an age for FIVE players huddled around the ball to decide what to do.
Sigere came close with a looping header, as did Pacquette, and Louis Riddle found himself in the area forcing a scramble which was eventually cleared. Man of the Match, Gary MacDonald so nearly scored a last-minute equaliser, only for Emberson to somehow deny the defender with a despairing lunge.
With the final whistle signalling the end of this memorable campaign, it was all too clear that the winners both on the field, and on the terraces, was Boro', in all but the final score.
If Wayne Turner has any sense, he will stick with 3-5-2 for the rest of the season, as it has yielded the best out of players such as the pacy Louis Riddle, and determined Simon Travis, whilst also providing a good service to those up front. If Boro' can transfer last night's form to the pitch on Saturday against Hastings United, then the Sussex side will be in for a tough test.
We salute you Boro'!
BoroGuide MOM: Gary MacDonald
Stevenage Borough Vs Luton Town - Tuesday 14th October, 7:45pm kick off
For the second year running Stevenage Borough entertain Luton Town at Broadhall Way, the excellent compact home of Stevenage. Fans of both sides will be hoping for a similar match to last year, which saw a seven goal thriller, including a six minute hat-trick from Luton's Ahmet Brkovic. This season, Stevenage will be hoping that under the Management of ex-Farnborough Owner and Manager, Graham Westley, they will be able to reverse the 4-3 defeat.
Stevenage can consider themselves unlucky not to be a member of the Nationwide football league. During the 1990s they flirted with promotion to the Football League, in fact in season 1995-96 they finished top and were very unlucky not to gain league status due to their ground not being up to standards at the time of their Championship.
In terms of the opposition, the players to watch are Anthony Elding and Simon Travis. Elding is a youngster from Boston, who only seems to score 30 yard screamers, and Travis, is a pacy right back who Manager Westley has recently tried to convert into midfield. A real fan's favourite, Travis scored his first goal for the club in over 55 matches last week at Woking. A notable mention to Jason Goodliffe, who is usually the rock of the Stevenage defence, however he is returning from injury and will be a doubt for the match,
Manager Westley is described by Boro fans as a "Walking Enthusiasm Machine", he's well known for having his own style of man management which he feels gets the best out of his players, but has a reputation for upsetting those that don't conform to his style. Further evidence can be shown by the fact that not content with signing 19 new players between February and the end of the season, a further 10 have been signed since the summer. Fewer than half a dozen remain from when Westley took over!
LIKELY STARTING LINE-UP
Lionel Perez (G) - Erratic but brilliant. Quite eccentric but capable of pulling off wonder-saves.
Michael Warner (RB) - Half-decent defender but no real quality. A Westley set-in-stone player
Lee Flynn (LB) - Probably the best capture of the close season, from Barnet
Barry Laker (CB) - Solid centre back with good aerial ability
Nathan Bunce (CB) - A bulk of a player with no real speed, but a good ability to snuff a player out. Weak link.
Simon Travis (RM) - Converted from RB, expect him to figure and play a major part in the game
Simon Wormull (CM) - More a right winger but possessed some nifty footwork and passing
Gary Holloway (CM) - Another ex-Farnborough player, very useful at breakaways and bursting toward opposition, but with little end product.
James Gould (LM) - Returning from injury, was outstanding at the weekend and was Boston's 'Young Player of the Year' last season
Tony Battersby (F) - Improving target man with no little skill in close ball control
Anthony Elding (F) - Very confident striker who feels he has a lot to prove to everyone, and full of desire. Has scored no fewer that 4 top drawer goals already this season that would have graced the world stage, let alone the conference.
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Luton Town turn their attentions to the LDV Vans Trophy tonight when they take a break from league action against local rivals Stevenage. Two league wins last week have taken the Hatters up to eighth in the table and six points behind league leaders Brighton & Hove Albion and it's a position that the side are keen to build from, but first they face a tough test against Conference side Stevenage in the First Round of the LDV.
"Last week has been a big bonus to us," admitted Mike Newell. "Having picked up six points we're handily placed in the league now.
"We'll go into the Stevenage game with some fresh legs because we're struggling, really struggling now. We've been down to the bare bones for the last few weeks and we can't afford to take risks with some of the senior players. Anyone who is carrying anything won't start.
"I am not saying we're going to put out a youth team, the side we've got in mind has got nine players with first team experience this year so it isn't as if we're putting out the youth team and we certainly wouldn't do that if we could avoid it, that said it isn't going to be the side that played on Saturday either.
"We've got lads who've been carrying niggles and strains; bumps and bruises and with three games coming up next week we feel we need to rest them but we're not devaluing the LDV and we're certainly not taking Stevenage lightly. It's just a case of taking the opportunity to make sure these lads get themselves fit, back to 100%.
"Originally it was our plan to play Dean Brill against Stevenage but we'll look at it on the day. We've got Robert and Dean to choose from and we will decide what is the best option on Tuesday.
"We've watched Stevenage last week against Woking. They had a man sent off but went 1-0 up and held on for a long time and they finished the game 1-1, having played with ten men for virtually an hour. They are a threat to us and it should be a decent crowd and a good atmosphere. It'll be a good opportunity for any of the lads getting their chance to go out and show us what they can do.
"We're certainly not taking it lightly, we think the players that play on Tuesday can get a result. We're going there to win the game and get through to the next round. The fans that go there to follow us will demand that and they will expect that."