Hatters reap the benefits from a different approach at Kenilworth Road
Hatters midfielder Cameron McGeehan expects Luton to continue with their more adventurous approach at home after it paid handsome dividends during the 3-1 victory over Barnet on New Year's Eve.
Coming into the game on the back of a tame Boxing Day reverse to Colchester, the hosts went for the jugular from the word go, swapping their usual possession based style for a far more direct mode of play, which put their opponents on the back foot from the off.
It was to continue throughout the game too, with keeper Christian Walton opting to kick from hand rather than look for his centre halves to build patiently from the back, and worked a treat as Luton were rewarded with three stunning goals.
McGeehan revealed the change in tactics had come about after some harsh words following the 1-0 reverse to the U’s as he said: “If we lose at home to a team like Colchester it’s not good enough.
“No disrespect to them, but we should be beating those teams and we’ve not done that enough this season at home. That’s why we’re not top of the table.
“We analyse every game and thought that’s what we needed to do.
“What we tried to do was go a bit longer early. The fans have been getting on our backs a little bit when we’ve been keeping slow, not coming out fast and think they’re right to do so because we need a tempo and energy at the start.
“It worked well. We went for that tactic and we’ll probably use that for a few games at home as the fans were right with us and tempo was set for the rest of the game.
“I definitely think we’ll try and use that the next few games, open them up a bit more, then the gaps open up a bit more.”
There was a far better atmosphere throughout the contest with supporters fully engaged with their side’s efforts and not frustrated as they had been during last week’s tame reverse.
McGeehan continued: “Fans want to come and see that competitive game. It’s League Two, not tippy tappy football.
“It’s kick it and run at times, it’s tough, it’s tackles and it’s headers, fans like to see that and thought from the team selection for us, bit more physicality.
“We knew they were a physical team, their strengths are all long balls, long throws. They’ve got John Akinde who is a top player in this league, scores all the goals.
“So we went a bit bigger, our tallest team for the season, apart from maybe Cookie (Jordan Cook), we’ve got a good squad to use it.”
Although Luton did get the ball to the likes of Danny Hylton and Jordan Cook far quicker, they didn’t just resort to aimless punts forward, but utilising balls in behind, while the likes of McGeehan were quick to win a number of knockdowns too, keeping the pressure on Barnet.
When asked about his decision to alter his side’s approach, boss Nathan Jones knew something was needed to ensure Town were more of an attacking threat from much arlier in the contest.
He said: “The first half we came out of the blocks really, really well, we wanted that, we worked on that this week.
“We wanted to have a start, less possession, little bit more penetration, play in their half a little bit more. So I wouldn’t say we want direct, we tried to penetrate quickly, quicker than we normally do.”
However, when asked if this was now a blueprint for future games at Kenilworth Road, to ensure Luton’s home form picks up in 2017, Jones added: “No, not necessarily. We’ll take very game on its merits, some sides will press us high and we’ll look to play out so we can break that press.
“Here, we didn’t feel they were going to press us, so we thought okay, let’s play it in there early, lets get the crowd with us, lets give them something to get behind and see that there’s a positive.
“Then when it opens up, then we’ll play and i thought we did it very, very well.
“What we didn’t do is control the game enough in the first half after the initial period, but second half I thought we did and saw the game out very, very well.”
Jones was also quick to praise the fans with the way they have stuck behind their side in a poor run of one win from six league games on home soil prior to the victory.
He added: “Our fans are on side, our fans are wonderful and I think we’ve got a real good rapport with our fans.
“They’ve given us real patience now as I think after the Boxing Day game and then a slow first half, they could have gone, maybe a year ago they would have gone.
“But they didn’t. They’re with us, they’re brilliant fans now and they’re a big, big part of what we do, it was intimidating second half and it was excellent, so wonderful for the fans.
“I think they’ve got a side there that when they don’t play well, they know that they’re working and people are grafting and want to die for that shirt.
“So I love our fans, I’m happy with our fans and think they’re happy.”