Date: 20th February 2007 at 11:21pm
Written by:

It just had to be didn’t it? Former Wednesday striker Drew Talbot netted the winner as Mike Newell’s struggling Hatters came from behind to record their first victory since the turn of the year – and heap further woe on Wednesday, who have picked up just one point in 2007.

Deon Burton gave the Owls the lead as early as the 25th minute and looked set to be plain sailing for Brian Laws’ men – but comedy defending from his men saw Luton somehow take all three points from a game Wednesday should have wrapped up in the first half.

Laws welcomed new signing Jermaine Johnson in to the side after serving a three-match ban to make his debut for the Owls, while Glenn Whelan also returned to the side at the expense of Yoann Folly who dropped to the bench.

And Johnson, a £400,000 signing from Bradford in the January transfer window, almost got off the perfect start for his new club as he broke free of the Town defence before smashing a shot high and wide of Marlon Beresford’s goal.

Wednesday certainly made the brighter start to the match, carrying on their impressive second half performance from the Burnley match to Kenilworth Road. And some neat passing in attack almost saw Kenny Lunt open the scoring from an inswinging Chris Brunt cross, only for Beresford to thwart his effort.

Maybe a sign of things to come later on in the evening, the host’s first opportunity in front of goal came after a mix up in the Owls defence which led to Steve Robinson firing a warning shot wide of Mark Crossley’s goal.

But it was Wednesday who took the advantage on 25 minutes as the in-form Deon Burton made it three goals in three games after Frank Simek provided a dangerous cross from deep for the former Derby man to power home his header from close range and send the travelling Wednesday fans barmy.

But Wednesday’s defensive frailties showed just eight minutes later as the Hatters levelled just after the half hour mark as the Wednesday defence failed to deal with a Luton corner, and after Crossley flapped his attempted clearance, Bjorn Runstrom was on hand to fire Mike Newell’s men level to leave the Owls without a clean sheet in a disastrous 2007.

Steve Maclean had been relatively quiet for the opening but he got in the game in the latter stages of the first half as he firstly had a goal chalked off for offside before releasing Johnson with an inch perfect through ball which he once again blazed over the bar from 12-yards.

Half-Time: Luton 1-1 Wednesday

The hosts made one change to the start of the second half as Richard Langley replaced Morgan, but Owls boss Brian Laws stuck with his guns for the start of the second 45.

Although the opening ten minutes of the second half gave little to write home about, Wednesday seemed more confident in the passing football but gave little threat in front of goal.

And they were punished on the counter-attack on 54 minutes as the hosts turned the game on the head in the most unfortunate of circumstances for young Owls defender Tommy Spurr who turned the ball in to his own net, former Owl Talbot the architect as he tested the Wednesday defence with a telling cross which Spurr failed to deal with.

The goal lifted the hosts as they looked to pull themselves away from the Championship trap door with victory, and it looked like it would need something special to draw level for Brian Laws men, as the hosts looked to shut up shop and protect their lead.

And re-called midfielder Glenn Whelan duly obliged just six minutes later as he thundered a long-range special similar to his strike at Leicester to draw the Owls level.

But the topsy-turvey encounter wasn’t finished there, as the Wednesday fans were still celebrating the superb effort as Luton netted the decisive goal through Drew Talbot – which proved to be the match winner for Mike Newell’s men. Typical, you might say. Poor defending, more like.

Luton weren’t intent of throwing their goal advantage away for a second time, and all hope of a comeback was pretty much ended with some inept substitutions by the Owls boss as Wednesday looked to take something from the game.

Steve Maclean and Kenny Lunt were both withdrawn for the goal-shy Marcus Tudgay and the defensive midfielder who is Yoann Folly. Many expected Folly to make the starting eleven to protect the defence, but alas he came on for 25 minutes to try and help Wednesday salvage something from the game.

David Graham was also brought on to replace Jermaine Johnson with Tudgay – brought on to partner Deon Burton in attack – dropping to his dispreffered right wing role. Game, set and match Luton. Given to them on a plate.

It doesn’t seem too long ago we were dreaming of a top-six finish, and now we’re looking dangerously over our shoulders in the hope that we don’t, somehow, get dragged in to a relegation scrap. Surely not?

Full-Time: Luton 3-2 Wednesday

Luton: Beresford, Foley, Heikkinen, Keane, Emanuel, Bell, Robinson, Spring, Morgan (Langley 46), Talbot (Boyd 67), Runstrom. Subs Not Used: Brill, O’Leary, Barnett.

Wednesday: Crossley, Simek, Bullen, Watson, Spurr, Johnson (Graham 80), Lunt (Folly 68), Whelan, Brunt, MacLean (Tudgay 68), Burton. Subs Not Used: Adamson, Coughlan.
Brian Laws told BBC Sport:
‘These errors are driving me mad. It’s the most angry I’ve been because it’s happening week-in, week-out.

‘We’ve thrown the game away again when we’ve been in control and it’s poor. When do we have the opposition gifting us a goal? It doesn’t happen.

‘Some goals we’re conceding are comical and the sooner we stop that, the better our chances will be of progressing.’

Mike Newell told BBC Sport:
‘Drew is light on his feet, but he’s not afraid to put his head in there. He’s brave and he’s got a spark which sets the other lads off as well.

‘There’s plenty of games left and plenty of points still to play for.

‘We’ve got a young side but until young lads play they won’t get experience.’