Tag Archives: Luton Town

EFL Fans Forum

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Last Monday was the second EFL Fans Forum of the season. It took place at the shiny headquarters of Sky in Osterley and covered a range of subjects, forming part of the EFL’s commitment to engage with supporters across the three divisions.
Former referee and PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) Head Of Community & Engagement, Chris Foy, was very much the star of the show. His interactive presentation set out to change our perception of match officials whilst also explaining some of the recent changes to the laws of the game. It was insightful, entertaining and above all else provided the audience with a great deal of understanding and empathy for match officials. Chris is a credit to football with his natural enthusiasm, love of the game and self deprecating turn of phrase instantly winning over the audience. We also learnt that at the start of the season, each Championship club invested £50,000 to enable Select Group 2 referees to become contracted. This money has been used to help officials in all areas of training including reviewing decisions, psychology and fitness. One can only hope that this sort of thing can trickle down to L1 and L2.
Next was the Sky Sports’ Head Of Football, Gary Hughes. He explained the minimum five week commitment between the broadcaster and the EFL in announcing live television fixtures. This commitment was announced at the start of the 2016/17 season to help give clubs and their fans as much notice as possible ahead of any matches selected for live television coverage. Gary also spoke about his opinion that more access behind the scenes is the key to pushing football coverage forward, but that there is still a large amount of resistance to this from the club managers who want the dressing rooms to remain very much their own private domains. Scott Minto, one of the anchors of Sky Sports’ EFL coverage was also on hand and offered his opinion as a former player throughout the evening’s topics.
We also heard from Paul Snellgrove, the EFL Competitions Manager, who has the unenviable task of putting together the fixture list. Paul went through the process of how games are scheduled, with the main driver being to maximise attendances. He explained that clubs often request that big local games take place on a Saturday so they can take advantage of the bigger crowds and generate more revenue. The flip side of this is the odd game on a Tuesday night being an arduous trip for teams and fans where a low attendance on a Saturday would also have been likely. All the clubs and the police are consulted before the list gets published in June and then the vagaries of cup replays and the weather come into play. It really is a monumental balancing act and I’m sure that Paul has pretty thick skin by now as it is an impossibility to keep everyone happy all of the time! The Q&A at the end of the session was largely taken up by fans asking why Paul thought it was a good idea that their own team had to travel to Hartlepool on a Tuesday night, despite his explanations a matter of minutes before.
On the whole, it was an informative evening with everyone getting an insight into the workings of the EFL and Sky Sports, although the location and start time meant that the attendance could have been higher. It was a nice opportunity to meet and chat with fans of other clubs and it was a Luton Town supporter who hijacked the end of the meeting to deliver his heartfelt best wishes to the Leyton Orient fans who had travelled from East London with the future of their club still in the balance. He spoke for us all.
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Wycombe Wanderers 1 Luton Town 1

A BBC Three Counties derby and a very enjoyable match to commentate on. In pretty dreadful conditions, both teams gave their all and at the final whistle I think a point a piece was about right. It would have been cruel for either team to lose the game, especially as both sides were definitely still in the market for the win during the final stages.

Paris Cowan-Hall was deservedly awarded man of the match for an excellent all round performance. His work rate has been excellent all season and he is now being rewarded with a purple patch in front of goal. Five goals in as many games is no mean feat and the Chairboys have now broken their league record by scoring in sixteen consecutive games. Cowan-Hall’s opening goal was backed up by a performance of real maturity, grafting in defence and a constant menace in attack. He was a real rough diamond when he first arrived at Adams Park. Credit must be afforded to Gareth Ainsworth for signing Paris on a free, putting his arm around him and making the wide-man fulfil his potential.

Luton lived up to what I expected from a John Still side and I think they will be challenging at the top in May. I thought The Hatters looked short of a striker but with Paul Benson out injured I reckon Still will get the cheque book out in January. I was looking forward to seeing the gravitationally gifted Steve McNulty play and I was not disappointed by his performance. He may well be on the wrong end of a few chants from the crowds up and down the country but I thought he read the game superbly and was a stubbornly effective rearguard for Luton. Jonathan Smith took his goal very well and it was a good team response from going behind to an early goal which was another defeat for zonal marking.

Matt Bloomfield looked lively in the second half, coming on for an injured Danny Rowe as both sides pursued the points. A tremendous Matt Ingram save from Adam Drury and Mark Tyler making a smart stop at the other end soon after kept things level which is how it ended. This was despite a real cup tie style finish as the rain ramped up towards the whistle.

A valuable point earned for both sides and more importantly for Wycombe Wanderers, a performance to be proud of in front of a bumper crowd. All too often in recent times, the Chairboys have choked when the gates have been big at home, but any lapsed or potential new fans in attendance on Boxing Day would have gone home thoroughly entertained. Before kick off, Wycombe chairman Andrew Howard spoke of the long term plans and these will certainly need to involve more people turning up at Adams Park on a regular basis. it was also announced that Gareth Ainsworth had signed a ‘long term’ deal with the club which was warmly received by the home fans in the Vere Suite. The manager is clearly enjoying working with Howard and the results reflect this. Long may it continue!

Here are the thoughts of Gareth Ainsworth after the game in my interview with him for BBC Three Counties…

Mobile & tablet version here

Here are the commentary highlights from the game, featuring myself, Scotty and Geoff Doyle. Many thanks to Keith Cummings for the audio…

Mobile & tablet version here

The BBC Three Counties commentary team for the game

The BBC Three Counties commentary team for the game

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