Brabin desperate to enjoy that winning feeling

HATTERS boss Gary Brabin is hoping to finally enjoy the winners’ feeling as he takes Luton Town into the Blue Square Bet Premier play-offs, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 4th May 2011, 2:42 pm

Brabin was chief scout last season as Town were knocked out by York City, while the year before, he was Cambridge United manager when the U’s lost 2-0 to Torquay in the final at Wembley.

The Luton supremo said: “Everyone who goes into the play-offs believes it’s going to be their year. (The disappointment of losing) I wouldn’t say it’s easy to shake off.

“I had the fortune of going to the final the year before, but the misfortune of getting beat in it.

“That’s disappointing and I don’t want to go through that feeling again. I think we can achieve what we’re more than capable of and that’s promotion.

“It’s a bit of a cliché, but it is four halves and we’ve got to take each half as it comes.

“There’s two games and it really is a tough time both mentally and physically.

“People try and read things like who’s the form team. You can be racking your brains trying to work out who’s going to do what.

“We’re just going to concentrate on ourselves and if we go there and perform as well as I know we can, I’m more than confident.”

Town travel to the Racecourse Ground for the first leg on Thursday, a ground they don’t traditionally do well at, losing seven of their last nine games, including a 1-0 reverse this season.

Manager Dean Saunders has now been in charge of the Red Dragons for two-and-a-half-years, but according to Brabin, has had to take a more conservative approach this year after failing to win promotion.

He said: “I think when he first took over, he’ll be the first to admit he brought a lot of players to the club and it didn’t quite work for him.

“This year, they haven’t been as active if you like. But he’s got this group of players gelling together.

“They’ve got a lot of experience, and some good players at the club. I’m not surprised they’re up there.”

Wrexham kept their powder dry for the match at Kenilworth Road on Saturday, making 11 changes to their side, but have injury worries over 15-goal striker Andy Mangan, fellow forward Mathias Pogba along with midfielder Jay Harris, while Lee Fowler is out after dislocating his elbow against Luton.

The club’s participation in the play-offs had only been rubber stamped on Thursday too after they paid a £200,000 tax bill to ensure they could compete.

Brabin continued: “They’re a club with a lot of tradition and a lot of history, and have spent a lot to get out this league, so much so that they’ve just paid a big bill off which is no mean feat for the club.

“They’ve got some good footballers, but are not afraid to mix it up. We’re well aware of their strengths.

“There’s little bits and bobs we’ve got to address about them (Mangan and Gareth Taylor), but we’re just going to concentrate on ourselves.”

Town also rested a host of their big names for Saturday’s precursor and, although Freddie Murray is definitely out, there was better news regarding striker Danny Crow.

Brabin said: “Crow’s stepped up his training. He’s kicking a ball as well, but how soon he’ll be ready for match action I’m not too sure yet.

“We’ll keep monitoring him day by day, but it’s a big plus that he’s jogging and joined in a couple of the lighter sessions.

“We’ve got one or two back in training with the group which is a big plus. We have still got one or two out, but that’s why I wanted to see the whole group gelling together.”

Hatters have not scored in their last two first leg away matches, at York last year, and Mansfield in the FA Trophy this season.

Brabin though didn’t put a great deal of significance on the fact, but already knows which 11 will be taking the field tomorrow night.

When asked if he had his team in his mind, he said: “Yeah, I have yeah.

“We believe we can win every game, that’s our aim, but it’s foolish to guess what’s going to happen.

“We’ve just got to go there like we have done each game and do what we’ve been doing.”

Town have been allocated 1,650 tickets for the tie and, despite the match being on a Thursday night and live on Premier Sports, Brabin urged supporters to make the trek to Wales.

He added: “The support has been fantastic. The last few games has been a good connection between fans and players. I’m really proud to see that, it’s really important and sets us up going into the play-offs.”