Mullins insists Hatters’ squad is best in the league

Hatters defender Johnny Mullins

Hatters defender Johnny Mullins

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Hatters defender Johnny Mullins insists that Luton possess the best squad in League Two despite their 3-1 defeat to Portsmouth on Tuesday night.

Town saw their unbeaten ended by an impressive Pompey side who deservedly claimed the spoils, going above the Hatters into fourth place.

I still think after 46 games we’ll really see who has got the best squad and I’m more than confident it will be us.

Johnny Mullins

However, although Mullins admitted the south coast side were one of the stronger teams he had come across this term, he still felt Luton had the better playing personel at their disposal.

The summer signing from Oxford said: “They’re a good side, there’s no taking that away, they’re probably one of the better sides, but I still think we are the best squad in the league.

“They’ve come here and got a result. Eleven v 11 anything can happen in a football match. I still think after 46 games we’ll really see who has got the best squad and I’m more than confident it will be us.

“I think we’re a good side, I really do. The way that we’ve lost is disappointing, but they’re not a bad side and we’ve conceded goals at the wrong time.

“We needed to be a bit better in both boxes, if I’m brutally honest, defending and attacking. We can’t give teams chances, especially teams like Portsmouth because they will punish you.”

Mullins felt that Gareth Evans’ effort on the stroke of half time which put the visitors 2-1 in front, plus referee David Coote’s refusal to award Luton two penalties, were the turning points in the game.

He continued: “Football changes on goals. That second goal, we’ve got to manage the game better and get in at least 1-1 at half time.

“A set-piece with a minute to go is a terrible time to concede and gave them the momentum to go in the second half.

“It was a bit of a killer. We felt like everything they exerted in the first half was just starting to work for us and just wasn’t getting there any more, not pressing with the same intensity.

“But to concede that goal at that time was poor and I don’t think we got started in the second half.

“They played the game out quite well, so from a management point of view we’re always learning.

“I think we could have had a couple of stonewall penalties but there’s no need to blame anyone else.

“We did start the game really well and should have carried that on, but once they got their goal back and then the second one it really took the sting out of us. They were the better side in the second half.

“We’re a young squad but it doesn’t matter how old you are, this game never stops you learning. It’s always got a way of biting you in the backside.

“We’re bitterly disappointed but we’ll dust ourselves down. We’ve been on a really good run and we’ve got to go on another one.”

Luton had been on a run of three consecutive clean sheets until Michael Smith side-footed Portsmouth level on 10 minutes, with four of their five shut outs this term coming with Mullins in the heart of the defence.

The 31-year-old has had a stopstart campaign too, hit by suspension and minor injuries, making 11 starts so far, as he added: “I would have taken away all the stats to get a win, as I just want to play as many games as I can.

“Everyone who’s playing in there, be it Scotty (Cuthbert), Sheez (Alan Sheehan), Glen (Rea), we’re all vying for those two places and it’s bringing the best out in everyone, I feel.

“I just want to play as many games as possible and help the team get promoted. That’s what I’m here for.

“It has been really frustrating, I had the injury, got back in and then had a really stupid injury with my toe.

“It’s one of the weirdest ones I’ve had but it’s nice to be back in.

“Every day in training, everyone has to be at it because there’s competition from one to 11. That’s only going to be good.

“That’s what we want and I think the gaffer has said we’ve got the best squad in the league and we’ve got to go and show that.