Unhappy Hatters keeper Mark Tyler has warned that they won’t win anything if Town continue to be afflicted by their set-piece achilles heel, writes Mark Wood.
Defender Simon Ainge lost his man as the unmarked Charlie Clough was allowed to head home a 92nd-minute leveller for Dorchester in the first round of the FA Trophy on Tuesday night.
Neil Martin’s own goal had given Hatters the ideal start, but Tyler was critical of ‘sloppy’ Luton, saying: “We had a great start. We didn’t really capitalise on our other chances. So it was a bit frustrating we didn’t go a couple of goals up at half time.
“But fair play to them they got their goal, it obviously lifted their spirits and then I thought when we got our second it was game over.
“But that’s sloppy from us all over the pitch and we’ve just got to stop our man scoring, he’s just had a free header so it’s not great.
“It’s the most annoying thing. We’ve got to stop it. We won’t win anything if we keep doing this.
“Set-pieces have been our achilles heel. The lateness of the goal, but somewhere in there is the fact that they shouldn’t be in our box with 20 seconds to go.
“That’s the more frustrating thing. We will still work on it, don’t get me wrong we are working hard, but the boys have got to be a bit more braver, grab hold of their man and stop him scoring.
“Try anything not to let him score, especially at such a critical stage.
“Because as soon as we kick off it’s finished, that’s the most frustrating thing.”
Tyler warned that changes could be in the offing if players can’t mark up at set-pieces.
“You’ve got to stay with your man,” he said. “If it’s your man you’ve got to be brave enough to hold him and shield him away from the ball.
“You can only get so many chances. The gaffer will sort it out, if it means dropping players... everyone in the whole team has got to learn to stay with their man.
“Basically they shouldn’t be up in our area anyway, but I’m not going to go into that.
“We’ve got to see it out. It’s 30 seconds to go and just do anything to stop your man scoring.”
He was also disappointed with the first goal as home captain Mark Jermyn was allowed to fire home their first equaliser from the edge of the box.
Tyler said: “I think it went through Aingey’s legs. We didn’t close the ball, that’s another free shot from the edge of the box.
“The gaffer must be knocking his head against a brick wall with some of the lads.
“They’ve just got to put blocks in, that’s how you keep clean sheets and that’s not what we’re doing at the moment.
“We’re letting people have free shots and free headers and it’s got to stop.”
Luton created plenty of chances on the night and Tyler believes they played the conditions well.
He said: “You go to places like this and you find out what your team’s about.
“It’s difficult conditions if you look at the pitch, so I thought we played the conditions well. It’s never going to be free-flowing football on a pitch like this.
“We had opportunities to score goals, but this is where we’re at at the moment.
“We’re either not taking our chances, not concentrating towards the end of the game and letting ourselves down with set-pieces.”
If Town can progress through Tuesday night’s Trophy replay, Tyler believes a trip to Matlock, who sit 15th in the Northern Premier with just two wins from eight home league matches, would present the Hatters with a good chance to go further.
He said: “We’ve got to beat them first before we think of that. But it’s an opportunity again for us.”
On Saturday’s forthcoming FA Cup second round tie against the same opposition, and the replay, he added: “It will be a totally different game at Kenilworth Road, the pitch will be great.
“We’ll get it down and pass, but we’ll play in the right areas, we know what to expect.
“We know we should have won the game quite comfortably, so we’ll be all guns blazing on Saturday and next Tuesday.”
For all the latest Luton Town FC news, reports, stats, player profiles, live match updates, MOM poll, prediction table and a complete fixture list, visit our Hatters Microsite.