Hatters chief lauds 'intimidating' atmosphere created by Luton fans on their long-awaited return to Kenilworth Road

Town's manager quick to praise Luton's followers

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 7th August 2021, 6:57 pm
Updated Saturday, 7th August 2021, 7:00 pm
Town boss Nathan Jones
Town boss Nathan Jones

Town boss Nathan Jones was thrilled with the ‘intimidating’ atmosphere created by the Hatters fans on what for many was their first game back at Kenilworth Road in almost 18 months this afternoon.

Buoyed by a sell-out crowd of just over 10,000, the Town players took to the occasion like they had never been away, while the same simply couldn’t be said for the newly-promoted visitors who looked increasingly nervy at times, each mistake and misplaced pass roared to the heavens by the fired up Luton faithful.

With a wonderful ovation greeting the players as they walked out on the field, the decibel levels were then upped on the half hour, Elijah Adebayo rising highest at the back post to head Fred Onyedinma’s deep cross into the net via the upright.

It was after the break when the stadium came even more alive though, firstly due to referee Andy Woolmer’s bizarre inability to send off Posh captain Mark Beevers for a clear handball when last man, dishing out a yellow instead.

The decision incensed not only the home supporters and players, but Jones himself, who received a talking to from the official, with the famous and expletive laden FA chant quickly receiving an long overdue airing.

Rather than dwell on the call though, Luton simply took their anger out on the Posh, Harry Cornick converting from close range after another dazzling run and cross from Onyedinma.

As Sonny Bradley had predicted at the back of last season, the roof then came off the famous old ground with 20 to go, Onyedinma, who starred all afternoon, getting the goal his performance deserved, finishing at the second attempt from James Bree’s delivery to make it 3-0 and sew up the points.

After going through their full repertoire of songs late on, when asked about having fans properly back for the first time since the coronavirus restrictions were lifted, Jones said: “This is an intimidating place and I’ve been here League Two, League One, where you can physically see players wilt and we’ve steamrollered teams in the second half.

“That doesn’t quite happen in the Championship, but it’s a big, big bonus to have our fans back and when you look at it, it’s such a difference when you've got fans here.

“We’ve sat in there (stands) through the pandemic, the atmosphere is not the same, but today you could see it.

“Then in the second half you could see when we’re attacking that (Kenny) end, the levels go up and that’s the thing I’m excited about.”

It was the first time that Jones himself had taken the walk out of the tunnel in front of a packed home crowd since he returned to the club for a second spell in charge during lockdown down last, following his controversial decision to leave for Stoke City in January 2019.

Having somehow saved the club from relegation and led them to a 12th placed finish in that time, he received an excellent reception, with strands of his DJ Otzi song heard both before, during and after the game.

On his reunion with the Luton supporters, added: “I’m delighted, but I’m hoping enough time has gone on now and enough water has gone under the bridge.

“I made a mistake and I said that, but it’s time to move forward now.

“Let’s get back on track, it’s an exciting time here, we’ve got a young exciting squad, we've got a squad that wants to achieve something, we've got a manager that’s aligned with that.

“Yes, I know it’s building bridges, but for 15 months I’ve been building those, so let's now complete the bridge.”