The Great EscapePA

Saturday morning 7am. The alarm goes off, glasses go on and the iPad is opened to ESPN+. It’s game time. No, not a high profile Premier League game. Or the big weekend clash from the Bundesliga. Instead it’s Middlesbrough v Luton Town from the Championship, second tier of the professional game in England. It may not seem as fancy as a Man City game or Liverpool as they race towards a first title in 30 years, but to me, and many more, it’s much more important. Especially given the current situation of both clubs.

Middlesbrough are having an extremely disappointing season, considering they have had top ten finishes in their previous two campaigns and made the playoff semi-finals in the 2017/18 season. With only eight wins so far this campaign, playoffs are but a dream for Jonathan Woodgate’s men, who’s reality is fighting a relegation battle.

Alongside them are Luton Town, sitting second from bottom. Last year’s League One Champions are finding the step up to be every bit as difficult as they expected and without a win in twelve away games the trip to the Riverside Stadium, during Storm Denis, would have put most off. 800 faithful still made the trek.

I should clarify at this point that I’m a Luton Town fan and have been since the late eighties so what is about to follow could be considered biased.

THE TOWN ARE STAYING UP!

THE GREAT ESCAPE IS ON!

GRAEME JONES IS A TACTICAL GENIUS!

Okay maybe not the last one, but you get the excitement I’m feeling after watching the Town run out 1-0 winners, the first back to back wins since the end of August and more importantly two clean sheets in a row.

Ryan Tunnicliffe scored the only goal of the game in the 17th minute, a redemption moment for a player who last week was jeered as he was substituted in the 1-0 loss to Cardiff. That defeat put Luton 10 points from safety and relegation was all but confirmed in most fans eyes.

One week later and they are only four points from safety with three of their next four games against teams also battling the dreaded drop. Suddenly there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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The return of Izzy Brown has been a big boost given his creativity and while Jones may be going overboard saying Izzy “has to play if we’re going to stay in the league” he’s definitely going to play a part. However the biggest boost in most fans eyes, including this one, has been the return of Glen Rea.

For a team with the worst goals against statistic in the league the return of Rea has massively boosted the defensive aspect of the side, while the deadline acquisition of USA international Cameron Carter-Vickers on loan from Premier League Tottenham Hotspur has also bolstered the laboring defense.

With that end hopefully sorted out the responsibility now falls on Irish International James Collins to score the goals to keep us up. With 10 already this season he’s proven he can score at this level and with the help of Harry Cornick, Kazenga LuaLua, the above mentioned Brown and the returning Danny Hylton, Luton might just have enough in them to miraculously survive.

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If they do it will be as historic as that glorious day in May 1983 when Randy Antic scored a late winner against Manchester City to keep Luton in the top flight of English football and send their opponents down. Oh how times have changed.

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