Hatters boss insists missed chances are stopping Town from being a top six side

Jones feels his team are worthy of a place in the play-offs

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 1:14 pm
Luton couldn't find a way past Forest keeper Brice Samba at the City Ground last night

Luton manager Nathan Jones insists his team would be a top six side in the Championship this season if only they could start taking their chances.

The Hatters failed to score for the third successive game last night when held to a 0-0 draw at Nottingham Forest, the fourth match in five where they have drawn a blank.

To make matters worse at the City Ground, Town had a glorious chance to end their barren run in front of goal, awarded penalty on the hour mark, home defender Jack Colback also sent off for his second yellow.

However, Elijah Adebayo’s effort was saved by Brice Samba, while late on, the keeper made a superb stop to deny Kal Naismith a stoppage time winner.

A frustrated Jones said: “Let’s be honest, we have to realise where we are and where we’ve come from.

"We’re spending minute amounts compared to a hell of a lot of people at this level, so we know we’ve got to work and get to the level, but we're a good side.

"We’re punching way, way above our weight, but that’s what we’ve got to demand from them, and I'm proud of them as we've come to the City Ground and up until the sending off, they were no threat.

"I can’t remember them having a chance, we’ve given them one chance, but they haven’t had a shot on target, how often do Nottingham Forest not have a shot on target?

"We defended superbly well, organised, changed shape, swapping between two shapes, they’re a great group, they’re brilliant, but we just need to demonstrate more quality, demonstrate more quality, we’re top six, easy.

“Last year, Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough absolutely got away murder.

"We missed two pens in both games against them, that would have taken us to top eight and these are the moments that are stopping us being a top six side.

"We have to just rectify that, but we are very respectful of the level, we’re very respectful of where we are.

"We have a bottom three budget, so that means I cannot go out and sign (Aleksander) Mitrovic, and that’s not being disrespectful to my players, I’m not.

"I think we're really giving everything, we’ve deserved another victory tonight, against QPR we were outstanding I thought, really outstanding.

"It’s just two lapses of concentration, and apart from that, we are a good side, a real good side.”

The fact that the Reds fans were serenading keeper Samba before and after the final whistle, showed they realised just how indebted they had been to the performance of the former Marseille stopper on the night.

Jones continued: "He's an excellent keeper, we’ve worked hard, taken the gameplan on and I thought we were excellent.

"One thing I was pleased with, is we weren’t chasing the game at half time like we have been in certain games, but we’ve been good, been really good.

"We haven’t quite got the results for it, our numbers keep stacking up and backing up the fact that we’re a good side, it's just we’ve got to start proving that.

"We don't win games out of nothing, because with the greatest of respect, we aren’t a West Brom, a Fulham, a Bournemouth, with 100, 80, 60 million pound budgets.

"So that's what we don’t do, but they’re giving me everything and we were so close to another memorable victory here."

On how Town improve their conversion rate, following Friday night when they had 16 shots in a 2-0 defeat QPR, with just three on target and are now almost 300 minutes since last hitting the net, he continued: “It’s difficult because the level’s good, but we’re in and around their box and tactically we were really good tonight.

"We went to a back three and put two up top, penned them in, we moved the ball so they couldn’t get out because tactically we were very, very good.

"We had enough chances, enough situations around the box, we need to go bang, bang and get out.

"If Fulham are penning them in, Fulham score three or four tonight, that’s the difference and that’s why we have to show quality as to do something at the level, we have to step up to the level of the quality.

"Physically we’ve stepped up to the level, tactically we’re up to the level, they’re giving me everything every day, they’re a great group, they’re fantastic, but we've got to demonstrate moments of quality.

"When we get those opportunities, like last year, because you have to learn, you’ve got to take them as sides don’t necessarily miss pens against us."

Jones was happy with his side’s defensive performance as they kept a Reds side, who have only lost once in 10 games under new boss Steve Cooper, to limited opportunities, the Reds failing to score for only the second time since he took over.

The Luton chief added: "We’ve been very good, in most games.

"Blackburn we conceded two, they hardly had a chance, Bournemouth hardly had a chance, but they have that bit of quality that can just hurt you at the right time.

"That’s the level, but structurally, the work-rate, what we do, they’re giving me everything.”