Hatters boss felt Boro draw shows why Town aren't a top eight Championship side just yet

Jones reflects on another missed opportunity

By Mike Simmonds
Monday, 3rd May 2021, 12:27 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd May 2021, 12:30 pm
James Collins saw his penalty saved by Middlesbrough keeper Jordan Archer on Saturday

Luton boss Nathan Jones believes that his side’s 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough on Saturday showed just why they are not quite challenging for a position in the upper echelons of the Championship just yet.

The Hatters had 10 shots on goal during the contest, but only managed three on target, while top scorer James Collins missed a penalty with 19 minutes to go, which saw them held to an eighth draw at Kenilworth Road this term.

Jones though that his side's inability to take their chances yet again, making it just 40 goals in their 44 matches so far, the fifth lowest in the division, means that despite sitting in an impressive 12th, they aren’t in an even better position.

He said: “I think that’s why we’re not top eight and pushing for top six at the minute because we’ve missed opportunities.

“Both Swansea games, both Middlesbrough games, Birmingham here, (Nottingham) Forest here, there’s a list of ones where we should have taken more and we should have a greater points haul and be closer to those who are challenging for play-offs.

“But it’s another point, a point against Middlesbrough and we’re kind of saying we should be beating these sides, so we’ve come a long way.

"Let's not forget that, but I’m disappointed as I felt we should have taken three points.”

Jones made three changes for the clash against Neil Warnock’s side with Collins, Harry Cornick and Glen Rea back in for the clash, after the two attackers had a big impact during their 3-2 comeback win at Bristol City last Sunday.

On the alterations, the Town chief continued: “We want to be front-footed, we wanted to make sure we put a real front-footed 11 out there and we needed to do that.

"For large periods of the first half we were a bit lacklustre, we didn't really get going.

"Second half we really picked it up and we had enough of the play, enough of the opportunities, we just need to show a little bit more control and quality and we probably would have won the game.

“It had the feel first half of an end of season game.

"We didn’t want it to be an end of season game because we still have lots to play for and we want to finish strong.

"We want to make sure we have that hunger, a bit of momentum for next year, but a point is a point.

"In recent years, to draw with Middlesbrough, we’d have been leagues apart.

"They were ex-Premier League, we were League Two, Conference even when they were in the Premier League, so it’s not the worst point in the world and it’s nice to be disappointed when you just get a point.”

It was Collins who might have ensured Luton left with a fourth victory in five as with 19 minutes to go, he had a glorious chance from the penalty spot following a foul on Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall by ex-Manchester United defender Paddy McNair.

However, he wasn’t able to apply the finishing touch denied by Boro keeper Jordan Archer, who easily parried his spot-kick behind.

It was the second time this season that Collins has failed to score from the spot against the Teessiders, as although up at the Riverside in December he did actually beat Marcus Bettinelli, the goal was ruled out due to a double touch from the striker who slipped in the act of shooting.

Although the point means that Luton can't finish any lower than 13th now, with Stoke the latest team unable to overtake them, Jones felt that the two missed opportunities against Warnock's side have added to them not being in an even loftier position.

He said: “It was a different keeper, different scenario, different stadium, it may be a bogey team but you have to finish pens.

“If you miss pens, and ones to win games, that’s what’s disappointing.

“James has done brilliant for us, he doesn't miss too many, but it’s ironic that the ones he does miss have cost us as that probably would be four more points.

“So right now we’d be sitting on a minimum of 65, but we could say that against Birmingham here, Nottingham Forest were down to 10 men and we see the game out, Swansea, all these things that add up.

“I don’t think we’ve won a game that we haven’t deserved to.

"I know managers will say that, but we haven’t robbed a game and thought 'we’ve been battered here, we’ve nicked it,' we haven’t actually.

"So let's take the positives out of it, it’s another point, it means we eliminate one more team, so someone can’t catch us and that means we finish one place up, so every place is a bonus.

"We have to go and do that Tuesday (against Rotherham United) as well, as if we win Tuesday that means we guarantee another position and then we have a shoot-out with QPR.”