Hatters boss admits three successive Championship wins was a 'big barrier' for Luton to overcome

Town achieve feat for the first time in over 25 years

By Mike Simmonds
Sunday, 27th February 2022, 9:31 am
Updated Sunday, 27th February 2022, 9:48 am

Luton boss Nathan Jones was eager to talk up the significance of the Hatters finally getting over the 'big barrier' of winning three successive Championship games in a season for the first time since they returned to the level, when beating Derby County 1-0 at Kenilworth Road yesterday.

After winning promotion back to the second tier in 2019, the Hatters have come close on a number of occasions, falling just short each time.

Under previous boss Graeme Jones they won against Barnsley and Huddersfield early on, before losing 3-2 at QPR.

Kal Naismith goes up for a header against Derby County yesterday

He then led Town to victories over Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough later in the campaign, once more defeated in the third though, 3-1 against Charlton.

When Nathan Jones returned as manager in May 2020, Town did win the last two games to stay up, while they were also victorious in the first two of the next campaign, but a 1-0 defeat at Watford again prevented them from making it three in a row during the same season.

At the back end of last year, they got close on three occasions, beating Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, then losing to Norwich.

They also saw off Coventry and Preston, beaten by Derby, before wins over Wycombe and Watford were halted by a 0-0 draw against Reading.

This term they have also had the opportunity twice when overcoming Bournemouth and Reading, losing to Sheffield United, while defeating Swansea and Barnsley before dispatched by Birmingham City.

However, after beating West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough last week, they finally managed to get over the line and win a third in a row thanks to Danny Hylton’s winner which lifted Town up into the play-off places.

They last managed to record three successive second tier wins in the same term way back in the 1995-96 season, beating Southend 3-1, Norwich 1-0 and Sheffield United 1-0 in January, Boncho Guentchev on target in all three matches.

Jones admitted he made a big deal of it in his pre-match briefing to the players ahead of the Rams' visit, saying: “It’s massive, it shows we’ve come a long way.

“Midweek was a big win (at Stoke), away at the stadium and against my old club and they showed that they wanted to play for me, not just the club, but really get a result for me as they were excellent second half.

"And then to back that up, that was the final slide on my video today, all I said was 'three on the bounce.'

"I don't care how we got it, and I literally didn’t care how we got it, yes I want us to play better but it’s all about the result, all about the result.

"There were tough games today, a lot of people playing each other, so I was reasonably confident that if we got the three points then we would at least jump a place, so we did that, and fantastic, but it is a big barrier to get over.”

On the quality of sides that Luton have managed to put to the sword in their recent run, Jones continued: "Stoke and West Brom have been Premier League, Stoke have been in the Premier League for the majority of the last decade or whatever it is.

"We know what we’re competing with, we know how tough it is this league, we know that every week is a different test.

"We’re in real good form, but we do the basics right, we’re playing for each other.

"We’re not Fulham, we’re not the most gifted team in the league, but what we are is a fantastic team."

The fact that Town were able to get their noses over the line in games they aren't quite at their best in, and against some of the biggest clubs in the division, meant Jones was even more impressed, as he added: "We could have even lost it, you never know as they have got quality in the side.

"I think midweek was a big, big statement, West Brom here, I knew they would be motivated with the crowd, this is a difficult place to play, a real difficult place to play.

"Then going to Stoke and regardless of what anyone else says, anyone else who got interviewed after that game the other night, we were full value.

"Second half they didn’t live with us, they didn’t do what we did second half.

"Now they were a little critical saying 'we play this way,' we want to win games.

"I didn't go to Stoke to entertain, I tried to go to entertain and I failed, so I didn’t try to do that this time.

"What we wanted was three points, so that was a big, big win.

"As it shows we can go to these big stadiums, hostile crowd and on a wet, Wednesday night in Stoke, be fantastic and full value for what we have."