Jones: Lions defeat was the story of our away season

Luton boss Graeme Jones rued his side’s inability to hold on to a lead at Millwall this afternoon as the ‘story of our away season’ as the Lions hit back to triumph 3-1 at the New Den.

Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 3:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 3:51 pm
Callum McManaman slides in at Millwall

The Hatters had been 1-0 in front with 21 minutes to go, Sonny Bradley heading a second goal of the campaign late in the first half to put them in front.

However, once Tom Bradshaw levelled, Millwall’s incessant pressure paid off, Connor Mahoney (78) and Matt Smith (81) sealing victory as Town lost for the ninth successive game on the road.

Jones said: “The gameplan worked really, really well, but we couldn’t sustain it as the goal came on 69 minutes, so for 70 minutes it was fine.

“I know we were under a bit of pressure and we tried to change it, to get up the pitch a little bit, but it’s been the story of our away season since Blackburn (2-1 win) that we’ve found it difficult.

“I could easily talk about the positives, but I don’t think anyone wants to hear it.

“I think it was a resolute display for 70 minutes, lots of good, certainly better and a bit more resistance and resilience than we showed against Bristol City, so that would be a positive, but we couldn’t hold out.

“We just tired a little bit, we couldn’t get up the pitch any more, we brought Luke (Berry) on as Bradshaw kept popping up from a number nine or a number 10 and we couldn’t deal with it.

“Then we tried to get Harry (Cornick) on the pitch, by the time we got Luke Bolton on the pitch it was 3-1 and too late.”

Millwall’s first goal came after a linesman’s flag was raised for a foul by Bradley, only for referee Stephen Martin to wave play on, with a number of visiting players stopping.

They second saw Matty Pearson caught out on the edge of the Lions box, with Mahoney allowed to run and run into Town territory, before slamming home from the edge of the box.

Jones added: “I’ve got a linesman’s flag going at 1-0 up, now the wrong thing for our players, they should have played to the whistle.

“I’ve got five players stopping, ball in the box, goal, it changes the game, the dynamics change.

“I’ve showed them the first goal, you’ve got senior players stopping, that’s the reason for it.

“I don’t know the rules for the linesman’s flag goes up and the referee waves play on, he’s behind the play, nobody can see it, but I’ve said to my players, you can’t stop, you’ve got to play to the whistle.

“That’s the basics you get taught as a kid, that’s where the game changes.

“For the second goal I’ve got Matty Pearson dribbling up the pitch, I certainly never asked Matty to do that and on transition running back, Alan Sheehan gets cramp.

“That is just where we are at the minute.

"We need to have a level head, we need to be sensible, we need to get our players fit, as there’s no team who can win without their best players, even your Premier League sides suffer if they haven’t got like for like.

“It’s difficult to swallow, really, really difficult to swallow as we’ve done lots of things right in the game, in the build-up, the preparation, but we couldn’t see it out.”