Hatters boss annoyed by Reading's insistence on Wednesday meeting ahead of Blades clash

Town boss felt timing Royals trip affected his side at Bramall Lane

By Mike Simmonds
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 9:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 9:30 am
Amari'i Bell looks to break forward during Town's 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United on Saturday - pic: Gareth Owen
Amari'i Bell looks to break forward during Town's 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United on Saturday - pic: Gareth Owen

Luton boss Nathan Jones felt Reading’s insistence on playing on Wednesday night against the Hatters hindered his side's ability to be at their very best when facing Sheffield United at the weekend.

With the Blades earning a 2-2 draw at Preston on Tuesday evening, Luton were in action 24 hours later when heading to the Select Car Leasing Stadium, as they ran out 2-0 winners over Veljko Paunović's struggling Royals side.

However, Jones wasn’t too impressed by the scheduling of the fixtures, as when asked if it affected Town's efforts at Bramall Lane, he said: “Massively, I don’t know why, but the home team insists on playing on a Wednesday.

“They wanted to do it as they were at Middlesbrough on the Tuesday which meant that they had an extra day to prepare having had a journey and because they are the home side.

“You can argue your point, but they always go with that, they then kick off at eight o’clock, so you have to really adhere when you go to Reading, to a different thing and it suited them.

“But they’ve played at home today (against Huddersfield), so had two games, they didn’t have to have any journey or anything, but that’s the way it is.

"We’d have preferred to play Tuesday, we asked them could we play Tuesday, which would have given us an extra day, but as it was, would we have had an extra day and won the game? Who knows.

“I don’t know if it made a difference, but all these things contribute for me in terms of when you’re coming up against, and we have to be at our best to beat Sheffield United.

“These were Premier League last year under Chris (Wilder), previously they were right at the top of the Championship, got promoted, then had a couple of years in the Premier League.

"So they’re well in advance of where we are, but I’m proud of the application.

"We tested them first half, we were good value, but second half they started really fast and that was the thing, but it's been a decent week and that’s all we can concentrate on.”

Although Jones was frustrated by the timing of the game, he also felt his side lacked the courage needed on the pitch to ever really force a victory against the Blades.

He continued: “If we’d been a bit braver we could have caused them a few more problems, but you have to understand, the Championship is relentless.

"This is a difficult place to come to, arguably the best squad in the Championship, you look at the depth, you look at the money they’ve spent, you look at everything.

"So for us to come here on the third game week and outwork them and to really do what we do to teams normally is a big ask, and that was the case today.

"But I’m proud of the application, it’s not just about today, it’s about the week.

"At the beginning of the week we had 29 points, now we had two wins out of three and if for the foreseeable future we can win two out of every three games then I’ll be very happy.”

If anything the Hatters would have gone in half time the happier of the two sides, limiting their hosts to very little and having the best chances themselves, Cameron Jerome’s effort saved and Sonny Bradley having his goal disallowed for offside.

Some of the home fans were wavering in their support too, the odd jeer heard at the break, however, any frustrations were ended just six minutes into the second period, the Blades scoring twice through Rhian Brewster and Jack Rohbinson, Luton having to play the last half an hour with 10 men after Reece Burke was sent off.

Jones knew the timings of the goals were crucial, adding: “It really was and then any nerves that they had just went.

"They’ve got good players, got very good players, just look at the midfield.

"(Oliver) Norwood’s a serious promotion winner, (Conor) Hourihane has as well and then (Iliman) Ndiaye, I really like.

"They've got an experienced front two, Billy Sharp has had one hell of a career, they paid a fortune for Brewster, we’ve never spent 20 million in our history and they can spent it willy nilly.

"That’s what we’re coming up against, but no complaints, they were overall better than us for the full 90.

"But the big thing for me is it’s been a good week and that’s what we have to remember.”