Penalty wish works for Zed

A WISH to the heavens came true for Zdenek Kroca on Tuesday night when Mark Tyler pulled off a dramatic penalty save against Wrexham to help propel the Hatters into the Blue Square Bet Premier Play-Off final, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 12th May 2011, 9:04 am

Luton may have won the tie 5-1 on aggregate but Tuesday night’s game was anything but plain sailing.

Leading 3-0 from the first leg, Town were behind after just eight minutes when Andy Mangan netted before winning a penalty 12 minutes later that could have turned the tie on its head.

But Tyler came to Luton’s rescue, denying Gareth Taylor from the spot, with Kroca revealing: “I just wished a bit of luck for us.

“In the FA Trophy Kevin Pilkington saved the penalty but their player had a tap in from the rebound and I just wished a little bit of luck for us.

“Tyler made a great save and after that moment we played well.”

The Czech defender admitted Luton had started poorly and Tyler’s save was the turning point.

He said: “It’s hard because we knew we were three goals up and they had nothing to lose and scored an early goal.

“The start of the game wasn’t what we wanted.

“We were a little bit nervous and under pressure.

“Then from the penalty they had a great chance to extend their lead.

“Thanks to Tyles who saved a penalty and kept us in the match.

“If they were two-up it would be much more difficult for us.”

Kroca then weighed in with a 29th-minute equaliser on the night to all but kill off the Red Dragons.

He said: “I’m happy that I scored and helped the team to be a little bit more confident.

“I think the keeper made the wrong decision. He took a step forward and I just tried to hit the target and scored over him.

“We calmed down after this goal and it lifted our confidence – we were the best side after the goal.

“They needed to score three goals again and I think after the goal we were the better side.

“We should score more than the two goals. We thought we played the best second half of the two teams.”

Kroca was also full of praise for Town’s fans, adding: “It was a big game and a big crowd. They supported us.

“Athough we were one goal down they still believed in us and we have to say thank you for supporting us.

“It’s amazing and now we are looking forward to the play-off final with a much bigger crowd than here and I think we will play like a home match with the fans we have.”