Jones explains his thinking behind first half double substitution during Rams draw

Luton chief took off Naismith and Clark after just 30 minutes at Pride Park

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 10:17 am
Fred Onyedinma celebrates his equaliser at Derby last night

Hatters boss Nathan Jones explained his reasons for making a double substitution in the first half of last night’s 2-2 draw at Derby County.

With 30 minutes gone and the visitors trailing 1-0 after a mistake from Sonny Bradley which led to Tom Lawrence firing the Rams in front, Jones opted to take off Kal Naismith and Jordan Clark for Fred Onyedinma and Admiral Muskwe, moving away from a three-man defence, to a more attacking formation.

On why he opted to make the switch, Jones said: “We just wanted to go with a bit more energy, pace and power.

"We've got Muskwe, we’ve got Fred, it looks like a genius sub because Fred scored, but it wasn’t quite like that.

"We changed, we got back in the game and then we concede out of nothing, as we conceded two goals out of absolutely nothing, but that’s Championship football, if you mess about and you’re not at it then that can happen.

"It wasn’t like we were under the cosh, we were penned back in and they scored, and ironically it was right against the run of play the second goal, but we showed fighting spirit, we came back, and got a point.

"Four points from two away games, two difficult away games, Derby are fighting for their lives and a difficult side to play against, Millwall, going to the Den, I think everyone would realistically would have said, 'yeah, it’s a great return.'”

With Naismith having already been booked, a fifth caution of the season that rules him out of Saturday's home game against Hull City, it played a part in his withdrawal from proceedings, as Jones continued: “It was tactical, but because he's on a booking, whether I took Sonny off or him off, it was a decision.

"Kal, because he’s had a booking then there’s no point risking him, plus he's going to be out for Saturday, so develop a partnership (Bradley and Tom Lockyer) and so on.

"I wouldn't have taken Kal off because he’s been excellent for us in everything he’s done, so it was tactical in the end.

"I could have been hasty in taking Jordan Clark off as he’s been magnificent and I probably could have freshened it up a little bit tonight, but it was such a good performance, such a good level (at Millwall), that I thought we could go again.”

The changes certainly worked, as it was Onyedinma who drew Town level moments after half time, bundling the ball over the line at the back post from Harry Cornick's long throw, won after a strong run by Muskwe.

It was the summer signing from Wycombe's first outing in almost two months, having suffered ligament damage in training, as on his impact, Jones said: "He came on, and chameleon where he went, running the ball, falling over it, but he's come back and he scored.

"He’s nowhere near his sharpness, as that’s all he’s played in about eight weeks, that's literally the only football he’s played in eight weeks.

"So we’re trying to gather him back and I’m gambling as I want to get him up to speed.

"It would have been easy to put Carlos (Mendes Gomes) on, but Fred gives us something, so we had a little gamble up tonight.

"Some things have paid off, but four points in two games, at Championship level, two away games, you can't grumble at that.

"I'd love six, but can't grumble."

Although Jones made his final substitute much later, Henri Lansbury arriving midway through the second period, he also had a hand in Town beginning to exert some pressure in the latter stages, which led to Elijah Adebayo's equaliser.

Jones added: "The game changers did it for us again today.

"Fred obviously scored, Ade was a threat and Henri came on and showed his real quality.

"We’ve been on a good run, three clean sheets on the spin, these have the best defensive record in the league and only conceded something like nine in 12 games.

"So to come here and score two shows that we can score goals and we did and I’m very pleased with that."