Buckle left baffled by Walker’s talent

Dan Walker rounds the Dorchester keeper for his first goal on Tuesday night.
Dan Walker rounds the Dorchester keeper for his first goal on Tuesday night.

Hatters boss Paul Buckle admitted that goalscorer Dan Walker leaves him baffled at times, writes Mike Simmonds.

The 22-year-old produced a pair of cool finishes during Luton’s 3-1 FA Trophy victory over Dorchester Town on Tuesday night as the manager said: “You tell me how Dan Walker does it as he’s the most unorthodox player I’ve ever worked with or ever seen.

“He seems to find space, he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time on many occasions and drives me mad.

“But then he goes and scores two goals and scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in football in my opinion.

“Walker seems to do it with ease at times, he’s so off the cuff, but the one thing he has got is blistering pace.

“He’s showing a real calmness in front of goal and took his goals very well, so what do we know as coaches?”

Walker was one of a number of players making rare starts alongside the likes of James Dance, Adam Watkins, Alex Lacey and Matt Robinson.

Buckle contined: “That was a massive plus that James started a game.

“It was huge for him after being out for so long. He’s trained really hard for two to three weeks now, so I’m delighted for him to get through.

“He looked dangerous too, yes he’s going to be a bit rusty, as are some of the boys, but I thought our work-rate, effort and desire to win the game was there for all to see.

“It can be a dangerous thing making so many changes, but it wasn’t devaluing the competition at all.

“We were looking at the situation in terms of players having minutes and no reserves games at all, so it was a valuable game in many ways.

“It was as worry that the team’s cohesion wouldn’t be there but they showed great understanding and the two banks of four worked well.

“Dance showed great positional strength as did (JJ) O’Donnell, and the biggest thing is that they all did very well as we’ve got a lot of games coming up now.

“They’ve kept the winning run going and have shown me now that we have real competition for places which is what every manager wants.”

Town did concede one goal late on, a glorious volley from Dan Thompson, but it didn’t overly concern the boss.

He said: “It was a great ball in, after we have the ball away cheaply in the middle of the pitch.

“I can’t grumble too much as it was one goal against us with so many changes made.”

Although Buckle made eight alterations to his team, he didn’t feel it was a second string side, preferring to highlight the unity within the club as he said: “I told the players afterwards, sometimes you can be criticised if you make that many changes and lose the game.

“But we have one team at Luton, one team, we don’t really have a second team. We have one team of players, and we went and showed we are more than capable of putting in a great performance.

“It would have been a nasty feeling had we lost this one.”

One of the players he stuck with from Saturday’s FA Cup win over the same opponents, JJ O’Donnell, netted his second goal of the season, this time an instinctive right footed volley from 20 yards.

Buckle added: “In the pre-match meeting we showed clips of good stuff that we’ve done of late and JJ’s always shooting, so I made a bit of a joke beforehand and said sooner or later one of them is going to go in.

“When he cut in on his right foot, I was a little bit annoyed as I wanted him to go on the outside and whip balls in.

“But then he stuck it in, he doesn’t lack confidence and I thought his enthusiasm was great.”

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