Hatters chief not starting to dream of the Premier League despite Luton moving into the play-offs

Town boss knows there is still plenty of the season left to play

By Mike Simmonds
Monday, 28th February 2022, 4:35 pm
Updated Monday, 28th February 2022, 4:36 pm

Hatters boss Nathan Jones is by no means allowing himself to start dreaming of the Premier League, despite his side climbing into the top six with a 1-0 win over Derby County on Saturday.

Danny Hylton's goal on 67 minutes was enough to down the Rams and make it thee wins a row for the Hatters, propelling them above the dotted line for the first time this term on the back of a run of nine victories in 13 fixtures.

With 13 games still to, and a whole host of sides very much in the reckoning for the top six, Jones wasn't about to let his mind wander, as he said: “First of all that’s got us to a point where we’re not looking over our shoulders, as there is always a time where you think, 'can you be caught?'

Tom Lockyer on the ball against Derby on Saturday

"You’re not a pessimist, but you have to as a manager make sure that your club moves forward.

"The biggest disaster for us this year would be if we went down, and we’ve never been in any danger of that.

"So the position we’re in, we don’t dream of the Premier League, what we do is we say we’re in a fantastic position, let’s continue that.

"If this was 45 games, now, we had one game here against Reading that if we won, we’re in the Premier League, then we can start dreaming.

"But it’s so long to go, 13 games to get to the Premier League after then being in the play-offs, having three more, there's over a third of the season to go.

"We're not getting carried away, feet on the ground, we know we have to work hard, we have to dust them off now as we know we’ve had a big week with travelling.

"We've got another big week, Chelsea and Middlesbrough, it doesn’t come much bigger than that for us.”

Although not looking too far ahead, Jones did think that the fact his side saw off a Derby team to record three victories in a row for the first time since returning to the second tier in 2019 was significant, especially as the second game in that sequence had been at his former side Stoke City on Wednesday night.

He continued: “We could have even lost it (at 0-0 against Derby), you never know as they have got quality in the side.

"I think midweek was a big, big statement, West Brom here, I knew they would be motivated with the crowd and this is a difficult place to play, a real difficult place to play.

"Then going to Stoke and regardless of what anyone else says, anyone else who got interviewed after that game the other night, we were full value.

"Second half they didn’t live with us, they didn’t do what we did second half.

"Now they were a little critical saying 'we play this way,' we want to win games.

"I didn't go to Stoke to entertain, I tried to go to entertain and I failed, so I didn’t try to do that this time.

"What we wanted was three points, so that was a big, big win as it shows we can go to these big stadiums, hostile crowd and on a wet, Wednesday night in Stoke, be fantastic and full value for what we have.”

On-loan Aston Villa keeper Jed Steer was starting his third game in a row following a deadline day move to Kenilworth Road, with his kicking and handling secure all afternoon.

He was called on to make one vital stop too as with the scores goalless, flung himself to his left to claw Max Bird’s effort against the bar and out.

It meant the Hatters made it 14 clean sheets in the league this term and was the difference behind them having to chase the game late on, rather than needing just one themselves to win it.

Jones added: "You really do need your keeper at times, especially in the Championship, because every team has someone or something they can pull out of the bag.

"Everyone has a bit of quality and it’s a wonderful strike, we needed him and we did.

"But we defended the box fantastically well and they didn’t have many free headers, didn’t many shots from the edge of the box, and they’ve got some wonderful technicians in their.

"We do forget that they’re in a false position as they’ve got 42 points which would be enough to be well clear and they’re a dangerous side, they really can be.

"They changed a lot for us today, because they’re normally really fluent, they changed maybe to contain us, but they’re a real tough team to play against and that’s as blunt as we’ve been in the past few games and that’s a credit to them.

“We should have scored more, they like you have to do, went a bit gung ho at the end, we should have caught them on the counter, (James) Bree had a great chance.

"I thought we saw the game out really well, apart from Amari’i (Bell) messing about with it and not putting it in the corner, I didn’t think we had any scares.

"We defended fantastically well, we’re working hard for each other, everyone’s contributing.

"There’s a couple of disappointed ones who weren’t involved today but their time will come.

"It’s a great effort from everyone and it is a massive effort from the staff, from absolutely everyone at the club, so really proud of the club today."