Hatters midfielder Berry reveals a more 'intelligent' approach has led to him becoming a regular goalscorer in the Championship for Luton

Midfielder nets a fifth goal of the season during FA Cup win over Harrogate

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 6:45 am
Luke Berry scores his fifth goal of the season for Luton on Sunday

Luton midfielder Luke Berry believes a more ‘intelligent’ approach to his game is allowing him to become a regular on the scoresheet in the Championship for the Hatters this term.

The 29-year has always had a knack of knowing just where the target has been throughout his career, ever since a breakthrough campaign at boyhood club Cambridge United, scoring 14 goals during the 2013-14 League Two season.

A move to then League One Barnsley didn’t really bear the same fruits, notching just twice, but when back at the Abbey Stadium once more the following year, he bagged another 13 in the fourth tier again.

That led to a quite brilliant 2016-17 season, Berry managing to find the net 22 times, those exploits alerting the Hatters and Nathan Jones who snapped him up for an undisclosed fee in August 2017.

He scored eight goals for Luton, before a truly horrific injury against Colchester in March 2018 stalled his career at Kenilworth Road for 18 months, managing three in his comeback year in League One, then finding the Championship a much tougher nut to crack.

Berry managed one in the 2019-20 season, albeit wasn’t used too much by previous boss Graeme Jones, adding a further two last year, but this term everything appears to have clicked.

Although a calf problem kept him out to begin with, Berry was back with a bang, scoring twice at Blackburn Rovers in a thrilling 2-2 stoppage time draw, before netting in the 3-3 draw with Swansea and 5-0 win over Coventry to make it four goals in eight appearances and just over seven hours of football.

Luke Berry wheels away after making it 4-0

Another injury saw him missing for two months, but back in the squad against Harrogate in the FA Cup on Sunday, he was also back on the scoresheet, with what is now becoming a trademark late run into the box.

It might have been a cup goal this time, but when asked what has changed to becoming a regular scorer in the Championship, Berry said: “I feel like I used to do more of those runs, but it wasn’t as intelligent, so I’m picking my time a bit better.

“I probably did 10 a game, but probably eight of them were useless.

“Now I’m trying to do maybe five a game that are really intelligent and I think that’s right, while I’m playing with wingers who are really direct, really positive and have vision to see me a bit better as well, so it’s a bit of both.

“It’s a coaching thing, Chris (Cohen), the gaffer and everyone who’s worked through the years, Harty (Paul Hart), it’s just picking your time, being more intelligent, when are you going to use your energy in the right way.

“If you cut the ball back to me I feel like I’m going to score, so it’s more timing and the consistency of that run, instead of just doing it every time and thinking, ‘why’s the ball not coming to me?’

“It’s thinking more about it really.”

It worked perfectly again at the weekend, Berry, who had only been on for 30 minutes, arriving on cue to sidefoot fellow sub Fred Onyedinma’s cross into the roof of the net with two minutes remaining to make it 4-0.

It took him to five goals for the season already as whether he had a target in mind, Berry said: “I always try and get double figures, so if I can get double figures I’ll be content with that.

“I said to Fred ‘if you get on can you cut one back,’ I don’t know if he’s meant it, he’s scuffed it back, I’ve got on the end of it and luckily it’s one just underneath the bar.

“I’ve been working a lot with Chris and the gaffer and now Sheezy’s (Alan Sheehan) in on finishing most sessions.

“We do finishing after training and in training we do a lot of arriving into the box, and it’s always that third man cut back, I’m always in there, so it shows in the game that practice makes perfect.”

Boss Nathan Jones always knew that the midfielder had it in him to be a goalscoring threat at this level, stating there was no luck in his name being read out by the tannoy announcers as much as it was being this term.

He said: "He’s been doing it for 10 years near enough, that’s why we bought him, that’s why we spent a lot of money on him in League Two, because he was the best goalscoring midfield player in the lower divisions.

"We signed him and he continued to do that, if he didn’t have the injury, I think he scored 11 before the injury and we were flying and he was flying, and he’s adding that now.

"That’s five this season, so it’s not luck and he does it in training every day.

"We had a practice match in midweek and he scored, similar position, arriving, so it’s no coincidence."

Meanwhile, team-mate Kal Naismith added: "That’s him all over.

"If you can get 100 clips of him arriving in the box at the right time that’s what he does.

"It is an art, it’s not luck that it keeps falling to him and it’s just his timing and getting in the box, he’s a massive goal threat."