Hatters boss hails opening day clean sheet against Birmingham

Luton had conceded eight in their last two matches with the Blues

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 9:27 am
Ethan Horvath kept a clean sheet on his Luton debut at the weekend
Ethan Horvath kept a clean sheet on his Luton debut at the weekend

Town’s opening day clean sheet against Birmingham City was a real positive for Luton chief Nathan Jones at the weekend.

After a season in which the Hatters managed 19 shut outs, adding to the 15 they picked up in Jones’ first full season back at the club, they picked up their maiden one of the campaign at the first time of asking.

It was done with USA international Ethan Horvath between the posts, the Nottingham Forest loanee, as expected, getting the nod over fellow summer signing Matt Macey.

After last season when they were breached eight times in both matches against the Blues, five of them arriving at Kenilworth Road, Jones said: “That’s a real positive, a clean sheet, as Birmingham are a threat.

"Set-plays, they’re a big team, (Lukas) Jutkiewicz, (Marc) Roberts, (Auston) Austy, a big side, a real, real big side.

"It's tough but we’ve defended our box really well, kept a clean sheet and I thought we did enough, had enough chances.

“They’ve got a lot of good players, they’ve had a fair bit of turmoil, but they’ve still got a lot of good players.

"You look at the front two (Troy Deeney and Scott Hogan), they’re very, very experienced, they’ve played in the Premier League, gone for big money.

"The boy (Juninho) Bacuna, I had Ryan Woods at Stoke and Stoke paid a lot of money for him.

"There’s a lot of experience and a lot of quality, so it’s not a bad, bad result, it’s just we like to win at home.”

At the other end, Town yet again couldn’t break through once more against the Midlands opponents though, drawing another blank.

It wasn’t for the want of trying though, Harry Cornick and Carlton Morris going close, while Cauley Woodrow and Luke Freeman were both denied by the experienced Ruddy.

Jones continued: “Harry was unlucky, Harry felt something on Monday and Tuesday so didn’t train, so we made the decision to play Carlton and Eli (Adebayo) up top, but we always know we’ve got that impact with Harry.

“Harry came on and was lively and we’ve got real options in terms of attacking areas.

"Cauley as well was unlucky, something fell to him on the edge of the box, he hooked a nice one in late on too.

"We’ve had so many set-plays and box entries and just couldn’t find a goal, but fair play to Birmingham.

"They must have defended well as to keep us to no goals at home you’ve got to do well.

“We’ll keep trying to create chances, keep trying to play front footed and those will go in.

"It’s the first game of the season after a five week pre-season after coming back from two weeks less than everyone else on holiday, so there’ll be a little bit of rustiness.

"The sharpness will come and once we get that we’ll be back to normal, but it’s not a bad point this.

"John Ruddy had a good game, made some good saves, we probably didn’t take some of the chances we had, and that’s why we’ve drawn nil-nil.

"But it’s a point on the board, so we haven’t started off with a defeat, we’ve shown what we’re about, shown we haven’t gone backwards at all, and that’s a good thing.

"This time last year, three games in, we lost 5-0 to Birmingham, so there was no repeat of that."

Jones is also hoping that the minutes will do his side well, particularly midfielder Allan Campbell, who got through the full game, having barely had a rest since the previous season ended.

He added: “Allan was a little bit off it, he didn’t really have his real spark.

"But he’s been to the play-offs semis, been away with Scotland, the world of football’s crazy.

"We’ve had to come in, try to rest him as much as we can, but then get him up to speed so he’s ready for the games.

"It’s mad, but that’s where we are.”