The Sunday News
AFTER being deemed excess baggage at English Premier Soccer League side Aston Villa and sent on loan to Championship side Luton Town in the January transfer period, Zimbabwe international Marvelous Nakamba has guided his newfound home into topflight football.
The Bulawayo boy played the whole game when Luton Town defeated Coventry City 6-5 on penalties. He also scored one of the penalties with a brilliant grounder off his left foot. Nakamba could play for Luton in the topflight next season, or return to Villa, although chances are high he will remain at Luton, where he has become a regular at the heart of midfield. Luton is also home to another Zimbabwean, Admiral Dalindlela Muskwe, who however, did not play last night.
It took over 120 minutes and a penalty shootout before Luton Town gained promotion to the Premier League, but they got it done, triumphing in the Championship Playoff final. After a 1-1 draw through regular time, it took a 6-5 penalty shootout victory for the Hatters to pull off their fourth promotion in nine years to rise to the Premier League for the first time ever. Their last appearance in the topflight was 1992. A miss from Coventry’s Fankaty Dabo saw an excellent shootout come to an end as he skied the ball, almost seeming to strike it out of Wembley but that’s what happens when you have a shootout in the game’s richest sport, the nerves are high and it was Luton who managed to hold theirs and earn promotion.
Right out of the gate, the Hatters suffered a setback as Tom Lockyer was withdrawn and replaced by Reece Burke. Lockyer was taken to the hospital for further tests but the setback wouldn’t stop Luton who opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. They upped the pressure holding Coventry without a shot until the 43rd minute of play but Luton forgot about finishing their own chances, keeping Coventry in the game and then allowing them to score from a slick move after the half.
It was Gustavo Hamer who levelled things with an assist from the creativity of Swedish striker Viktor Gyokeres as the Sky Blues got back into the match and began asking questions of American Ethan Horvath in the net. Coventry would then see their chances stunted by an injury as well with Hamer being withdrawn, but the team was still able to hold on for extra time. The extra period was relatively uneventful but deep into the half hour, Joe Taylor had the ball in the back of the net after a mistake by Coventry defender Jonathan Panzo but the goal was called off for handball as VAR rightly dedicated Taylor steadying the ball with his hand, after picking Panzo’s pocket.
With a victory, Luton will now join Burnley and Sheffield United as the third team to be promoted into the Premier League from the Championship. For Horvath, this is his second consecutive promotion after completing the feat from the bench for Nottingham Forest last season. On loan from the Tricky Trees, Horvath’s future will be one of the things that the club will need to look into this summer but first, stadium renovations will be in order.
Kenilworth Road seats just over 10,000 fans and the 120-year-old ground will see a stand demolished and rebuilt to make it Premier League ready at a cost of around 10 million Pounds. It’s a ground that can be a pressure cooker for opposing teams and will add to the iconic grounds of the Premier League but, going through neighbourhood back yards to get into the stadium is a charming factor that also needs renovations for the topflight with the extra income and attention that the club will receive. — ww.cbssports.com/Sports Reporter