Luton Lose Their Uphill Struggle To Stay in Football League

antony sansomCorrespondent IApril 13, 2009

LUTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 13:  Luton Town manager Mick Harford looks on during the Coca-Cola league two match between Luton Town and Chesterfield at Kenilworth Road on April 13, 2009 in Luton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

On a bright Easter Monday at Kenilworth Road, Luton Town were still hanging on to their league status after Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Lincoln City.

Luton went into today’s game knowing they would need to beat playoff-chasing Chesterfield and hope Nott’s County could draw or beat Grimsby.

Otherwise Luton would be relegated.

The game started off at a slow pace with a Keith Keane shot ending up wide of the post. Luton needed to push on and try to go for the win, but Chesterfield started to take control, creating several chances with Jack Lester and Alan Goodall coming close with chances.

The game started to turn when a corner from Luton’s Kevin Nicholls to Keane volleyed over the net. Nether side was able to take control of the rest of the first half with several half chances being created by both sides.

During halftime the club paraded the Johnston Paint Trophy to brighten up the supporters’ afternoon. They also were hopefully trying to emulate the “Wembley performance.”

The second half opened with more urgency as Sam Parkin headed a ball over the bar in the opening couple of minutes. Luton started to dominate the game and after 57 minutes Tom Craddock picked out Claude Gnakpa, whose shot was blocked.

Luton continue to pressure the Chesterfield back line and a beautiful pass from Nicholls to set Parkin went directly to the goalkeeper in a straight line. Luton continued to create chances and Asa Hall managed to set Gnakpa away, but a poor touch allowed Tommy Lee the time to come out and claim the ball.

Chesterfield then started to come back into the game with Pilkington blocking a Jack Lester shot and Darren Currie managing to curl an effort straight at Luton ‘keeper Dean Brill.

Parkin had a header that just cleared the crossbar, but in the final few minutes Luton seemed unable to break the deadlock.

The final whistle was blown and fans began turning to their transistor radios desperately trying to find the results of the Nott’s County Grimsby game and were treated with bad news.

At 4:55 p.m. on April 13, 2009, Luton Town Football club lost their fight against relegation after 89 years in the football league.

With a surreal and disbelieving atmosphere around Kenilworth Road, tears began to slowly creep down the faces of some supporters. Fans knew the fight was over and the fat lady had begun to sing. Luton had now relegated three seasons in a row from the Coca-Cola Championship to non-league football.

A week after one of the brightest performances of the campaign and lifting the JPT League trophy, nobody could imagine a week later would have come the lowest point of the campaign.

Luton Town have taken the punishment handed down by the Football League and the FA on the chin and continued to fight for their survival and attempt to get promoted from the Blue Square Premier at the first attempt.

Without the 30 deduction at the start of the season, the club lie in 15th place in the league two standings with a new piece of silverware in the cabinet.

Most fans would have considered this to be good campaign. Luton’s relegation all comes down to politics of the Football Association and the Football League.