Hatters boss Nathan Jones was delighted that Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu took another step in his development with a fine display in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Notts County.
The Town manager had spoke in the week about possibly dropping the former West Ham man after two ‘less productive’ performances against Leyton Orient and Mansfield recently.
However, Jones also wanted give Mpanzu the opportunity to come through what he defined as a ‘sticky patch’ in order to aid his progression and he certainly did with a starring role in what was his 23rd straight start for the club, plus a second goal of the season.
Jones said: “Sometimes you have to have patience with the players.
“I could have changed him, we have people chomping at the bit to play, Jonathan Smith, Jake Gray, so it would have been quite easy to take him out of the firing line.
“But that’s not how players grow, as sometimes you have to show faith in them.
“He’s been magnificent for a long period of time and he has to get better, so he has to test himself and has to come through these sticky patches, as that’s what a career is.
“We’ve all played games and the longer you play, the more sticky patches you have to come through and unless you’re Messi or Ronaldo, you have sticky patches.
“And he has. He showed real character, was brave first half, when they pressured, got on it, used his body well too.”
Mpanzu bagged what turned out to be the match-winner too, as he fired Lawson D’Ath’s pass beyond keeper Adam Collin from the edge of the box on the stroke of half time.
He has to test himself and has to come through these sticky patches, as that’s what a career is.Nathan Jones
Although not the cleanest hit of his career, that suited his boss perfectly, as Jones said: “Praise the lord it wasn’t the cleanest strike as when he does catch them, they end up in Bury Park!
“We’ve asked others to score as we can’t keep relying on Danny (Hylton) or Isaac (Vassell), or one of the centre forwards, Jack (Marriott) early on in the season.
“We need more from midfield, need more from set-plays, and we’ve got that, we’ve had that in recent weeks so we’re pleased,
“If Pelly can add goals to his game as well, then we’ve got some player.”
The midfielder himself was happy to be back on the scoresheet for the first time at home in over a year, saying: “It was great work on the right from Laws, he cut it back and I put it in the bottom corner.
“A goal’s a goal and I’ll take it. Hopefully I can get more before the end of the season and we’re in the play-offs, so hopefully I can get more and push us up into League One.”
Keeper Stuart Moore thought the strike couldn’t have been better either, adding: “You say it’s a scuff, I’d say more well placed, very well placed in the corner, hard for the keeper to see.
“It was a massive goal and helped us to the win.”