Luton take advantage of changes
LUTON TOWN and Sunderland both had their eyes on next week’s F.A. Cup sixth round tie when they met in a League game at Kenilworth Road this afternoon. Concentration on the Cup was reflected in the number of changes made in both sides.
Luton pulled out four key men, including winger Jimmy Aston who destroyed Newcastle United’s hopes at St James’s Park. Sunderland made six changes in personnel, with the switch of Ray Ellison to right back extending the number of changes to seven.
They had a strong back four on duty, and the attacking role was entrusted to John Lathan and Jimmy Hamilton in support of Vic Halom, with Brian Chambers taking over the Bobby Kerr role.
There were about 10,000 present. Vic Halom, captain for the day against his former club, won the toss for Sunderland but there was little advantage to be gained.
Luton was quickly on the move and Montgomery did well to fist away for a corner a well-hit drive by Hindson.
When Luton came back again, Chambers slowed them down a little, but the ball broke well for Thompson, whose drive from the edge of the penalty area was well covered.
Luton stayed on the attack, but gained little advantage from free-kicks against Ellison and Young. Ellison and Fern collided in a heading duel and both needed attention.
A long ball into the middle by Ellison looked promising, but after winning in the air Halom slipped and was unable to follow up the chance created.
A fine recovery by Watson had Sunderland moving again and when the ball was sent through to Halom Sunderland gained a free-kick when he was fouled by Faulkner. This led to a corner when Faulkner headed behind under pressure from Watson. When the kick was forced out, Watson returned it for Hamilton to get in a side-footed shot which was confidently collected by Horn.
Lathan and Hamilton showed up again from a long ball by Ashurst, but Faulkner took charge of the situation.
Chambers was back to send the ball through to Montgomery when Fern threatened from a pass by Shanks. Bolton now began to warm up on the track and it seemed likely that the substitution of Ellison was under consideration.
Montgomery pulled down an inswinging corner by Jimmy Ryan from under the bar, and shortly afterwards was picking up a long shot by Hales.
Hales was lectured by the referee for a foul on Porterfield and after Watson’s free-kick had been cleared, Watson moved through to beat Hales on the wing and go on to try a 35-yard shot which struck a defender and was easily collected by Horn.
It was a slow-moving game, with both sides struggling to sustain their moves.
Luton failed to accept the chance of pressing home another attack following a free-kick for a foul on Fern by Ellison, but it went close when John Ryan moved up in support of an attack to hammer in a low drive which had Montgomery diving to his left to save at the foot of the post. Then Jimmy Ryan went clear in the right and from his centre Hales headed over from an excellent position.
On the half-hour, Ellison was examined again but he was allowed to continue.
Sunderland had the luckiest of escapes when Fern beat both Ellison and Ashurst at the angle of the penalty area before crossing into the middle where Hindson forced the ball past Montgomery who still managed to get a touch and it was eventually scrambled away from the foot of the post. In the 35th minute Ellison was eventually taken out of the game and replaced by Bolton.
Shanks pushed up to force a corner on the left, but Jimmy Ryan’s kick was overhit and created no problems in the middle.
From a throw-in on the right Hern wriggled past Young and Guthrie to have his centre forced behind for a corner.
Halom dropped back to cover Faulkner, who came up for the kick and when Halom appeared to handle inside the penalty area the referee indicated that he was allowing the incident to pass.
Porterfield brought in Chambers with a good ball out to the right, and from his centre, a shooting chance developed for Halom, but his half-hit shot went straight to Horn.
Luton went ahead deservedly on the run of play in the 42nd minute after Halom had made a present of the ball to Hales with a misdirected pass. Hales sent in down the middle to SHANKS who held off challenges from both Watson and Young to place a strong shot over Montgomery’s head.
The goalkeeper got his hands on the ball, but it still travelled on into the net.
When Luton came back again with Thompson overlapping on the left they were near again from the full back’s centre, for Montgomery could only knock the ball up and Watson headed away from the far post.
Halom and Hamilton linked on the left trying to create a shooting chance at the edge of the penalty area but when the ball was pushed back to Porterfield he lobbed it through to Horn.
Sunderland’s first hopes of getting back into the game appeared to rest upon Chambers, who was using the ball better from mid-field than any of his team mates.
Ashurst was well wide with two long range shots and then Hamilton headed on a through ball but lacked the pace to follow it up.
When another Sunderland attack broke down just outside the Luton penalty area John Ryan stormed through the middle before sending the ball wide to Hales on the right.
The centre forward cut in to send a right-foot shot wide of Montgomery and just outside the far post.
It was a lucky escape and seconds later Luton appeared certain of another goal when the ball was played past Montgomery and Hales closed in on an open goal. Watson appearing from nowhere, however, managed to get in a winning tackle and drive the ball away.
Sunderland had to thank Watson for a lot of excellent work in the centre of the defence as Luton continued to look much of the more dangerous side.
Porterfield had Sunderland moving again when pulling down a clearance and lobbing the ball forward for Hamilton to head wide. After being completely held by Faulkner, Halom was now beginning to make a little space for himself and in the 65th minute be brought the best save of the game so far from Horn after a chance had been set up for him by Chambers.
In the next minute Watson won the ball in mid-field and hammered it forward for Halom to close in from the left and shoot narrowly wide.
Horn was called upon again to gather a drive from the wing by Watson and then in the 71st minute following a free-kick for a foul on Halom by Faulkner, Sunderland were near to an equaliser. Chambers took the kick and when it was headed down by Halom, Watson hammered in a great shot which beat Horn and struck the inside of the far post before being cleared.
Halom was on target with two strong drives and then Chambers, breaking well on the right when the ball was played square to him, sent a fierce shot narrowly wide.
The bounce of a long ball by Watson favoured Horn when Halom ran in to challenge, and then Halom went wide on the right to send in a fierce shot which finished behind the goal.
Busby, who had taken over as substitute from Hales in the 75th minute, came in to the game for the first time on the left, but when he tried to get the ball into the middle, Watson barred his path to goal.
Horn made a fine diving save when Lathan set up a shooting chance for Porterfield, and from Chamber’s corner-kick Guthrie shot high over the bar.
Luton Town: Horn, John Ryan, Thompson, Shanks, Faulkner, Goodeve, Jimmy Ryan, Anderson, Hales, Hindson, Fern. Sub. Busby.
Sunderland: Montgomery, Ellison, Guthrie, Ashurst, Watson, Young, Lathan, Chambers, Halom, Porterfield, Hamilton. Sub. Bolton.
Referee: Mr K Styles of Barnsley.
HOW THE GOALS CAME
SHANKS 42 mins
ENTERTAINMENT ran at a low level in a game which was billed as a Cup rehearsal but was, in fact, nothing of the sort.
There must be a guarantee that next week’s trial of strength in the F.A. Cup at Roker Park will be a vastly more lively affair. On the credit side, Sunderland could welcome another brilliant display by Watson and a workmanlike display by Chambers over the 90 minutes.
Porterfield pulled with greater confidence in the second half and Halom, too, warmed up as Sunderland went for an equaliser. But the overall standard of finishing entitled them to very little and over the 90 minutes Luton were certainly worth their success.
Story taken from the Football Echo on March 10, 1973.