Jones expecting Bees to be a real test under Nugent

Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Hatters boss Nathan Jones is well aware of how tough a test this afternoon’s opponents Barnet will be under the stewardship of manager Kevin Nugent.

For it was Nugent who Jones brought in as first team coach not long after taking charge at Kenilworth Road himself in January of last year, before the former Leyton Orient assistant left after six months to link up with Russell Slade at Charlton Athletic.

However, Nugent departed the Valley before Christmas and was named Barnet head coach in February, but since being appointed, has only won one out of nine, drawing four and losing four, as Jones said: “He’s had some decent caretaker stints, he had a good one at Charlton, it was difficult for Kev as they weren’t in a bad position when he went in.

“They had a bit of a turnover with players, but Kev’s very thorough, very professional.

“He knows the league, that’s why I wanted to work with him, that’s why I brought him here.

“Whatever happens, I hope they do quite well, just after Saturday. He’ll be very thorough, very professional in how he prepares and it will be a real, really tough game.”

The Bees’ main threat John Akinde has had a quiet time by his prolific standards since Nugent took over, scoring just three times, as Jones knows there is more than just Barnet’s 23-goal hitman to look out for at a ground where Hatters went down 2-1 at last season.

He continued: “They’ve got a few threats. We went there last year and it kind of put the nail in our play-off coffin.

“It wasn’t a great game, they’re a different side now to what they were last year, I’m looking for a different outcome.

“It will be a tough test, a local one. Anyone who plays against Luton raises their game anyway, so it doesn’t matter who we play, our focus is exactly the same, we’re going to have to be at it.”

With just six games to go, Hatters find themselves firmly in the play-off mix after a run of five without a win saw them drop out of top three consideration.

However, Jones expects the 1-0 win over Blackpool last weekend to give the squad a tonic going into the run-in, as he continued: “Whenever you win a football match it gives everyone a lift.

“We did need that because we’d stuttered really, it’s not been disastrous form in any way where we’ve been losing.

“We’ve needed to nick wins, when we haven’t played quite as well, but we’re in a real good position.

“It’s going to be an exciting end to the season, who holds their nerve, who wins their games, a lot of sides competing and we’re so glad that we’re in the mix.

“Knowing the group I’ve got and what we’ve got here, they’re hungry, they want to get better.

“We had a fierce nine v nine match and had to hold them back, so it’s a good position to be in.

“There’s all to play for and a world away of where we were last year, where we had the same aspirations or similar aspirations, but we’re in a better position now.

“It’s going to be exciting time for the club, for the fans, for the players, it’s going to test them, mentally, physically.

“The Easter period’s a wonderful time too as people go in and out of that with a lot of changes.”

On his team selection for this afternoon, Jones added: “Johnny Mullins is the only one (injured) and Cameron (McGeehan).

“But Jack Senior is a lot closer, Dan Potts is back in the building, so we’re strong. Cookie (Jordan Cook) trained, so we’ve got a lot to choose from.”