Sunday, 24 July 2016

Luton Town 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion, Friendly, July 23 2016

Expecting to be entertained by a friendly is like expecting to be cerebrally stimulated by reality television. It’s all artificial toiling and coiled shadow-boxing, and going one down after 30 seconds to a soft goal – rolled past Mäenpää in front of 200 distinctly quiet Albion fans, many of whom were still returning from the bar at that point – hardly elevated the thrill.

Dunk atoned for the misplaced pass which had led to the goal with a simple header from an inswinging free-kick at the end of the half, but it was our only attempt on target in 45 minutes. Luton should have been further ahead. They almost were straight after the break, seeing two shots cleared off the line. Apart from Elvis cracking the bar from close range they were well deserving of their win.

The game is about as memorable as a service station holiday, but it would be remiss not to laud the ground. The away end is right next to a residential front door, the stairs overlook rows of gardens and there’s an old-school tea bar near a door which leads to a clubhouse-style bar for away fans with relatively cheap beers.

The shallow stand falls low beneath the pitch and the noise in the enclosed ground is impressive. You can picture Fozzie enjoying his time here in the mid-80s, orange shirt, headband and all. This is the sort of place you end up missing over the course of a Championship season full of visits to sterile, out-of-town stadia. Let the watered-down lager flow.

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