4 observations from Luton Town's FA Cup 3rd round draw with Wigan Athletic
Luton Town were fortunate to escape with a 1-1 draw after a winner from Tom Naylor was contentiously disallowed. We now have the honour of travelling to Wigan twice in four days, first for the 3rd round replay and then for the league encounter.
Here are 4 observations from yesterday's clash against the Latics...
Horvath gets us out of jail
With the game tied at 1-1 and entering injury time, Wigan won the match at the death, requiring to make the best save of the game, turning the ball around the post. Horvath didn’t put a foot wrong all game, although it’s unclear where the blame lies for Wigans’ opening goal, as the USA international had made a great point blank save moments before Curtis Tilt recycled the ball back into the 6 yard box, through our defensive line, which Tom Naylor was the fastest to react to. Horvath dealt with the balls that were played back to him, his distribution was great in tricky conditions and we need to make his loan permanent as soon as possible.
Cornick nabs his first goal of the season
It has been a tricky season for Harry Cornick so far, with contract speculation rife and his starting position now under threat, this is reflected by Harry starting 30 of 38 games played last season (79%), which has dropped to 6 starts in 17 games played this season (35%). Harry has indeed dropped down the pecking order due to the emergence of Carlton Morris, the signing of Cauley Woodrow, Elijah Adebayo trying to find his scoring boots, and the evergreen Cameron Jerome.
However, the pacey forward finally notched his first of the season, an equaliser with a smart header after some great work down the left from Carlton Morris. Rob Edwards certainly speak highly of “Corns”, so I guess we will have to wait and see how much gametime he gets now. Overall it was a good performance from Harry, in a physical battle where he was getting a good kicking by the Wigan defence.
Louie Louie Louie!
Have we found a midfield maestro? I don’t want to get ahead of myself after watching him play just two games for Luton Town, but all the attacking impetus and calmness we had on the ball vanished at the same time Watson left the pitch. It’s obviously a lot of pressure to put on a 21 year old lads shoulders for all play to go through him, but it looks like he relishes it. His movement throughout the 76 minutes he played was sublime, he knew when to hold his position at the base of midfield, he was always showing as a passing option, and he moved laterally on the pitch delicately interweaving the play from the defence and the midfielders ahead of him. It was a pleasure watching him receive a pass and then spin, get his head up and look for a pass, often forward. He can receive the ball and turn either way, shrugging off players who are marking him, this movement together with his passing range makes it seem that we have signed another gem, who will continue to get better, and is certainly a good replacement for Henri Lansbury.
Possession is great, but chance creation was lacking
We ended the match with a staggering 71% possession. It is readily apparent that our movement of the ball over two thirds of the pitch has changed under Rob Edwards, there is less of an emphasis on going from back to front as quickly as possible, with triangles, one/two touch passing and lateral movement of the ball across the pitch, opening up space before finding a player in space with a big switch (it’s certainly more complex than that, but to my uneducated eye that’s what I see). However, when it comes to the final third, yesterday, we experienced the same issues that we saw under Nathan Jones, that the final ball is often lacking, or instead of having a shot we just look for one more pass that gives the opposition a bit more time to get into position and get a block in.
For all our possession today we ended with five shots in total, two of these on target. Whereas Wigan had six shots, three on target. Our strikers have shown that they can be clinical in front of goal when a half chance presents itself. So what if you balloon it over the bar, as shown by some of our most recent goals under Rob Edwards; Morris’ first against QPR, Doughtys’ wonderstrike, Campbell against Norwich and Clark against Middlesbrough, sometimes you’ve just got to have a dig, well against Wigan we didn’t.