FEATURE: A look back at Jones' first year in charge of Luton
Luton Town boss Nathan Jones completed a year in charge at Kenilworth Road earlier this month.
The former Brighton & Hove Albion coach was appointed to his first managerial position on January 7, 2016, taking over from John Still who had been sacked in December.
Jones started with a 0-0 draw at home to Cambridge United, before Paddy McCourt and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu sealed a superb 2-0 win at Mansfield, Luton’s first league success at Field Mill in their history, which saw the birth of the manager’s now famous post match celebrations towards away supporters.
However, Jones then lost 2-0 at home to Notts County, as February saw a 1-1 draw against former club Yeovil, before Cameron McGeehan’s stunning long range strike sealed a 1-0 victory at Wycombe.
Hatters were then humbled 4-1 by AFC Wimbledon, a defeat which remains the worst of his reign, but bouncing back in style to finally secure a first home victory at the fourth time of asking by beating Hartlepool thanks to a late Craig Mackail-Smith strike.
Luton followed that with a thrilling 3-2 win at York City, courtesy of Olly Lee’s cracking last-gasp effort.
March began with another decent victory, beating Morecambe 1-0 at home, while Leyton Orient were seen off by the same score at the Matchroom as Luton started to believe in a late surge for the play-offs.
That was dented by a 1-0 home defeat to Crawley, but rekindled at Plymouth, where Luton triumphed 1-0.
However, the month was to end in a disappointing fashion, losing 2-1 at Barnet, while April saw back-to-back home defeats to Stevenage and Accrington, ending any realistic aims of promotion.
Dagenham were defeated 1-0 on Still’s return to Kenilworth Road, as Luton then won at Oxford and Carlisle, before finishing with a 1-1 draw to Newport and losing 2-0 at champions Northampton.
May saw Exeter beaten 4-1 as Town end the season with a bang, leading to a busy summer in which Jones started to reshape his squad, with the additions of Danny Hylton, Christian Walton and Glen Rea to name a few.
Luton made a superb start to August, with the stand out results, 3-0 wins at both Plymouth and Cambridge, knocking Aston Villa out of the FA Cup 3-1 too, although they also went out to Leeds 1-0 at Kenilworth Road.
Gillingham were beaten 2-1 in the Checkatrade Trophy as Jones made Connor Tomlinson the club’s youngest ever appearance maker.
In September, Luton hammered Wycombe 4-1, before only winning once more in the league at Doncaster, suffering back-to-back reverses against Grimsby and Crawley too.
October saw one Checkatrade Trophy and one league win, a fine 2-1 success at Orient, as in November, Hatters progressed in the FA Cup, beating Exeter 3-1 at St James Park.
They also won successive league games for only the second time this term, 1-0 over Accrington and 2-0 at Morecambe.
December also saw Jones’ biggest ever win to date, a 6-2 thumping of Solihull Moors in the FA Cup, while a fine 2-0 victory at Blackpool set up a Christmas period that didn’t go to plan, with a 1-0 home defeat to Colchester follow up by a 3-1 win over Barnet.
Luton also equalled a club record of four league matches without conceding, going 402 minutes until Christian Burgess netted for Portsmouth at Fratton Park to start 2017 with a 1-0 defeat.
Before the Accrington game, Jones’ overall record in his 12 months at the helm was 27 wins, 11 draws and 15 defeats from his 53 games in charge, scoring 79 goals and conceded 56.
He has enjoyed more wins on his travels in the league, with 15 compared to 12 at home, so if he can turn Kenilworth Road into the fortress it should be, then maybe, just maybe, an even better year is in store for the Hatters chief.