The weekend in numbersTWO-THOUSAND-AND-TWO
The long, seemingly endless, wait was finally over for the Luton faithful. The relief around Kenilworth Road was sensed right the way around the old ground once referee Andy D’Urso had signalled the end of Saturday’s game with Cheltenham Town. After failing to beat AFC Wimbledon, Bury and Plymouth Argyle in their three previous matches, the Hatters’ 1-0 victory over the Robins ended a five-year period – and precisely 2,002 days – without a home Football League win. Few Town followers would have thought at the time of a 1-0 win over Macclesfield on 21st March 2009 that they would wait so long to experience that winning feeling in the Football League again.
It might have been the lowest of the Town's four league attendances so far this season but the 7,793 that witnessed the triumph was still the highest in League 2 at the weekend. The gate was also higher than five fixtures in League 1.
As John Still has said many, many times, “all games are tough”, and that might explain why, already at this early stage of the campaign, that League 2 is already showing its real competitive streak. The win over Cheltenham lifted the Hatters up just two places in the table, in to 18th position. However, Still’s men now lie just three points away from a place in the top six, despite losing three games already this term.
After walking through a swathe of supporters to receive his man-of-the-match award from the sponsors on Saturday, goalkeeper Mark Tyler modestly replied to the well-wishers that he was “just doing my job” when receiving the congratulatory pats on the back. The 37-year-old stopper has now made 238 appearances in Luton colours – and Saturday’s was just his seventh for the club in the Football League.
Saturday marked 12 months to the day since the Town suffered what had become an annual defeat on a dark, cold evening in North Wales against Wrexham. John Still admitted afterwards that he had picked the wrong team that night, which saw the Hatters drop 10 points behind early pace-setters Cambridge United. However, it wouldn’t be for another 27 games that the Town would taste defeat in the Conference and the rest, as they say, is history.
Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu’s performance in the middle of the park, and at right-back in the closing stages following the substitution of Curtley Williams, was certainly an eye-catching one – certainly warranting enough for Cheltenham to keep extra special tabs on him. The Robins had four men – Matthew Taylor, Troy Brown, Jason Taylor and John Marquis – booked by whistler D’Urso during the game all for fouls on the Town’s 21-year-old. And Pelly couldn’t have put it better himself when he tweeted later that Saturday evening.