Cranie more than comfortable slipping into a back three for Luton

Town defender Martin Cranie
Town defender Martin Cranie

Town defender Martin Cranie insisted he was more than comfortable in slotting into a back three for the Hatters’ clash with Bristol City on Saturday.

With Cranie available once more after suffering ligament damage against Sheffield Wednesday two months ago, it meant that Luton boss Graeme Jones had the personnel available to switch formations.

It worked wonders with a 3-0 triumph on the day, as Cranie, who was with Sheffield United last term, said: “I think the manager’s always had it in his head that he wants two formations for us to play.

“So if he can do something in the game and change it to that formation, everybody on the pitch knows that’s what their jobs are in that formation as well as the diamond.

“We’ve worked on it over the last couple of weeks, we’ll keep working on it as well as the diamond.

“I don’t think we’re going to go away from that, he just wants to have two formations, so if in a game it needs changing, he can do it.

“That was what we played last season though, so I’m quite familiar with the system.

“Sheffield United play it a bit differently with the centre halves bombing down the wings, but I’m quite familiar with how that systems plays out.”

It wasn't a foreign entity to Town though, as Cranie revealed that Town had been working on the new system in the build-up to the fixture.

He continued: "We limited them to efforts they actually had on target during the game, as they started well, but we just had to try and stay strong for the first 10-15 (minutes).

"As soon as that storm is over, then everything settled down and I thought we were sound.

“We had a look at it (new formation) before, when Lloyd’s (Jones) come on, we’ve dropped into a three and played like it.

"We haven’t done too much on it, so we’re just starting to click into it, but it was a good to have a break with no games.

"We had an in-house game where we changed the formations over a three 20 minute period game, so everyone can have a look at different positions in that formation."

Cranie was usually the first player to collect the ball from keeper James Shea and get Town moving from the back.

It was a role he was happy to play too, saying: “I said when I came here, I had similar thoughts to playing football as the gaffer.

“He wants to play out from the back, but we never want to overplay and get caught on the ball which sometimes happens in football.

“From the start of the season to now, we’re not doing it as much as we were getting caught quite a lot in the middle of the pitch, trying to play and teams were countering on us.

“So it’s just finding the balance of when to do it and when not.”

It eventually led to a first shut of the season in the league for the Hatters at the 12th time of asking, as Cranie said: “I’m delighted for them to get a clean sheet today as I think they’ve been playing well and I don’t think they’ve deserved not to have that many clean sheets this season for their performances.

"So it was good for those boys who have been here a while to get that winning feeling back and a clean sheet.

“That’s what we’ve got got to focus on the back five today, and the goalkeeper, we want a clean sheet, the strikers midfielders want goals, but I think going into games, if you get a get a clean sheet it gives you a better chance of winning doesn't it?"

Not falling behind was also vital for Cranie, as Town had done so on four of their five games at Kenilworth Road this term, only winning once in front of their own fans.

He added: "You never want to concede first in a game as it gives the away team confidence,

"A clean today is massive for us, mentally to know that we’re solid as a unit.

"We changed formation, it’s not something we’ve worked on for too long and we’ve only just started getting used to it.

"So if we keep pressing on with that, hopefully we can start getting a few more clean sheets."