A draw's a draw, and a point away from home isn't a bad day's work, especially when our squad's been together a week while their team has been together a couple of years, but there's still a sense of disappointment. There always is when you lose a lead and go close to getting it back, but that's football, and the main thing is we didn't lose.
Due to a lack of parking spots for coaches, our cocktails were taken in Newport Pagnell, which I'd never visited before (motorway services don't count), the birthplace of Aston Martin cars. Today, it was the home of most of the wasps in the UK, as they targeted the window table in the Cannon, where we spent a couple of hours happily slaughtering the little beggars. News arrived of an accident on the M1, and the resulting detour meant that it took an hour and forty minutes to get anywhere near the ground. Even then, we had to jump off early thanks to a car handily abandoned on the double yellows, stopping the bus, and just made kick-off.
After exchanging than usual pleasantries with the folks whose bathroom windows we passed on the way in, we saw the Lads line up:
Matthews Loovens Baldwin Oviedo
Maguire Mumba Power Honeyman Gooch
In our smart new black away kit.
Another pair of debutants in Baldwin and the headline-writer's dream Max Power, and we kicked off away from the packed away end, with its joyful arrangement of unreserved seats - always a source of amusement and confusion. Thankfully, it was more organised on the field, with Gooch and Maguire giving the home defence a hard time down our right, and that looked like where we'd make progress. New boy Power was always looking for the ball, and Mumba showed the same coolness on it - mind, Luton conceded a couple of frees for letting him and Maja know they were taking no prisoners.
Luton took a few minutes to find their feet and build an attack, and when they won a corner Baldwin cleared and they shot over, allowing us to settle again and get Honeyman into the box. Maguire took the corner, the first of a fair few, but we couldn't get an effort on target. With Luton struggling to cope with Gooch, the lack of a strike partner for Maja meant that we couldn't get the goal our build up play just about deserved. Having said that, we conceded a number of free kicks to allow Luton possession, but nothing really caused us bother - probably because we have a keeper who does normal goalkeepery things. All off those dead-balls meant the game didn't flow that much, but you got the feeling that if we could get the ball into their box along with two or three of our Lads, we'd get the breakthrough.
After the iffy start to his debut, Loovens seemed happier alongside the more mobile Baldwin, seeming to have more time to see what was coming. Oviedo was lucky to escape a booking when he mistimed a tackle, with the ref recognising the lack of intent. Honeyman and Gooch tried their luck without really bothering the enormous Stech in the home goal as the game moved towards the interval and I took advantage of the pie shed. Daft move, as I'd just released the volcanic chicken and mushroom content when Gooch found Maja, he found space in the right side of the box (sound familiar?) and fired low into the corner. Magic, apart from the bodies bouncing around my area getting a healthy coating of pie filling. Who cares, it was great timing and a cracking goal, with hardly any added time meaning the Lads were soon heading for the tunnel a very happy group.
No changes for the second half, and with the Lads attacking the goal in front of our fans, the chanting really ramped up. A fair few home fans in their executive boxes/conservatory seemed more interested in our noise than the game, and Maguire was on corner duty again. Luton upped their game, and after about ten minutes Catts replaced Mumba as Ross looked to add a bit more protection for the defence, with the young Lad looking to be tiring a bit after a decent 55 minutes. Oviedo and Maguire shaped to take a free 20 yards out, but the latter's effort went straight into the wall and was cleared. Gooch tried his luck, but Stech stretched to tip it over the bar and the home defence dealt with the corner.
Down at the other end, Luton's left-wing corner caused us all sorts of bother, we couldn't clear it, and Pearson put it away. Bugger, bugger, bugger.
Still, we had over 20 minutes to get a winner, and five minutes later nearly did when Maguire's belter from outside the box smacked the bar and flew up instead of down. Close, as was Power when he couldn't get enough in Maguire's free from the left and could only touch it wide. Our newest boy had a couple of chances to play the ball into the box but tried a flick that didn't quite come off. With five to go, O'Nien replaced Maja, which gave us fresh legs but left us with no forward. As four added minutes were announced, Molyneux replaced Gooch - more fresh legs, or settling for a point? We pushed for the goal, as did Luton, but that was it, and we had to settle for a point. For all the ball the home side had, they only had the one shot on target that I can remember. Had Maja had a marra, we'd almost certainly have won.
Still unbeaten, though.
Man of the Match? Another confident display by Maguire, a good debut by Baldwin, but for me Gooch's energy and work-rate did it for me. Importantly, the fans were in pretty contented mood as they headed back to the buses, where Stewart was shaking hands and posing for selfies. He does what he says, it would appear.