Jones hails Sluga's display as Luton bounce back at Oakwell

Town boss thrilled with the Croatian's efforts

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 19th August 2021, 1:40 pm
Town keeper Simon Sluga
Town keeper Simon Sluga

Luton boss Nathan Jones hailed keeper Simon Sluga’s display at Barnsley during Town’s 1-0 win on Tuesday night.

Both the Hatters back-line and the Croatian had struggled against the set-piece threat from West Bromwich Albion at the weekend, conceding from a long throw and a corner, before being easily picked apart for a third after the break, eventually going down 3-2.

However, at Barnsley it was a different story, Sluga coming off his line with real authority to punch clear at times, while also claiming some late crosses in as the hosts searched for an equaliser.

His shot-stopping isn't often in doubt with Romal Palmer denied from close range, before his best effort, getting down to to prevent Callum Brittain's side-footer from creeping in.

When asked about his on the evenings, Jones said: “It was a really proactive performance.

“He needed to do that as they loaded the box, they had one cross that flashed across the box second half, apart from that, very little, considering they're the home side and want to be dominant at home.

“They’re a good side and they beat Coventry here who are a good side and they will beat sides here, but it’s not who they beat, it’s the fact we came here and got the points.”

Match-winner Amari'i Bell also said: “In those games we needed everyone and Slugs, he definitely did that.

"The rest of the boys, we all dug deep and got the victory."

Although the hosts had more of the ball throughout the evening, with 70 per cent of possession, they only managed three shots at goal to Luton's four, the Hatters coming away with the points, which was the only stat Jones was interested in.

"He continued: “Possession is possession, it’s all right having a load of money but if you don’t spend it, no good, so that’s all it was.

"We came here with a game-plan and at times we allow certain people to have possession.

"When we think we are categorically better than someone then we’ll dominate possession, but today we had to dig in, we had to make sure that we didn’t go back to back away defeats and that was brilliant.

"I’d rather be sat here with less possession and three points than a shed load of possession and cero puntos (zero points).”

After Jones gave his team a bit of a tongue-lashing following the weekend, stating he would not let them make the same mistakes again, he was happy to see the right reaction he got, particularly defensively.

The boss added: “Kal’s own goal for example (on Saturday), it was hardly youthful exuberance, but experienced exuberance as he was so desperate to win the ball that he mistimed the jump and it went in.

“It was one of those things, but you can’t give West Brom a 1-0 start, especially with crowds back in.

"We wanted to silence their crowd and we didn’t do that, but it was a learning curve for us.

"We can’t cry over spilt milk, we finished the game really strong, that continued with the start we had here, so very pleased and I'm very proud of them.

"As when this team gets rocked, or gets a rollicking and you think they’re down, they come back and punch someone, metaphorically obviously, and we’re delighted.”