Modest Stech plays down his role in Luton’s first round victory

Hatters keeper Marek Stech in action against Portsmouth
Hatters keeper Marek Stech in action against Portsmouth

Hatters keeper Marek Stech was quick to downplay his role in Town’s 1-0 FA Cup win over Portsmouth at the weekend.

The Luton stopper had an inspired second half, making two stunning stops, while also called upon at other times too.

It was enough to earn Luton a second round tie at Gateshead thanks to James Collins’ first half winner and on his own performance, a modest Stech said: “I thought we controlled the game, especially first half and when they went one man down.

“They had the pressure, because they were chasing the game and I had to pull off a couple of saves, but that’s why I’m there.

“Especially towards the end, when we came under a little bit of pressure, to come for crosses and take a bit of pressure off us. We’ve done that and fair play to the lads, a great performance and a good job.”

Stech’s description of his personal display didn’t do it justice by any means though,

It’s important to make these saves to keep us in the game and either get three points or get us into the next round.

Marek Stech

His first save was a wonderful effort, arching his back to get a fingertip on Matt Clarke’s looping header, just managing to divert it on to the crossbar and away.

He then followed it up in stoppage time, flinging himself low to his right to turn aside Ben Close’s daisycutter which would have sent the sides to a reply.

On what his favourite was, Stech said: “Probably the last one as the keeper got it and then they went through.

“Fair play to the lad, it was a great strike, I just tried to get my hand there and leave it there and then as I dived, just got a slight touch on it, so I’m really pleased.

“Then the other one, was a deflection and it kind of flicked over my head.

“I could see it above me and I pushed with my left leg and just got a touch on it and it hit the bar and went away.

“We’ve been working on the training ground every day, been doing some stuff with the gaffer so I’m really pleased. It’s important to make these saves to keep us in the game and either get three points or get us into the next round.”

The Czech’s efforts between the posts have certainly caught the eye of his team-mates too as Collins said: “Our keeper has got us out of trouble a couple of times as well, so credit to him.

“There’s not many around better than Stechy if we’re being honest. He’s a great shot-stopper, a great lad off the pitch as well and I’m just delighted for him that he’s showing people what he can do.”

Stech also knew just how important the cup win was for boss Nathan Jones, who had tasted defeat twice against Pompey last season, as the south coast club eventually took the title.

He added: “They were a decent side, I know the gaffer wanted to win the game, because he was disappointed that he lost twice against Portsmouth last season.

“They got promoted, they’re doing well, but like the gaffer was saying the other day, you lost against them twice last season. So he wanted to make sure that we win the game and we go to the next round which we’ve done, so we’re really pleased.

“Especially for him, and for all of us and after the game when we lost 3-0 against Coventry, it was really important to win and go to the next round. We’re absolutely buzzing, we wanted to win the game, wanted to get into the second round of the FA Cup which we’ve done.”

Little more than 5,000 were in attendance at Kenilworth Road for the tie though, with 1,143 from Portsmouth and Stech added: “It was a strange atmosphere, it’s a cup game, but I’m just really glad that the fans turn up. They put on a great show and that’s why we’re on the pitch and why we do that for them.

“We were disappointed last week, it’s not great to lose at home, 3-0, but we lift up, we work hard on the training pitch and it paid off.”