Jones looking to mastermind Luton's first league win at Kenilworth Road over bogey side Barnsley for almost 30 years

Tykes in a real fight for survival this season

By Mike Simmonds
Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 8:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 8:56 am
Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Luton boss Nathan Jones will be looking to mastermind a first league victory for the Hatters over Barnsley at Kenilworth Road in almost 30 years tonight.

Last season, Town went down 2-1 on home soil, impressive striker Daryl Dike on target twice, with James Collins’ late goal a consolation as the Tykes carried on with their surge to the play-offs

The two teams drew 1-1 back in the 2019-20 campaign when it had resumed after lockdown, the visitors netting with six minutes remaining to stake a share of the spoils.

Back in League One, Jones was in charge for the 0-0 New Year’s Day clash, his last league game as Hatters manager before moving to Stoke City.

Prior to that clash, Luton hadn’t played for Yorkshire opponents for almost 12 years, Barnsley winning 2-0 in the Championship in January 2007, also claiming a 3-1 victory in League One in March 2005 and a 1-0 success in Division Two in December 2003.

A 3-2 triumph happened in August 2002, although Luton did win in November 1998, but that was a League Cup tie, Phil Gray netting the only goal.

Barnsley won 3-1 and 1-0 in the 1995-96 and 1994-95 campaigns, as the Hatters' last victory, was in October 1993, a thumping one at that too, Scott Oakes (2), Julian James, Scott Houghton, John Hartson all on target in a 5-0 Division One hammering.

Discussing the bad run against their opponents, which now numbers at nine games, Jones simply said: “Well, there we are then, if we needed any extra motivation there it is, we don’t, but there it is.”

Luton won’t get a better chance of rectifying their form than tonight's contest as after reaching the top six last term, going out to Swansea City in the semi-finals, Barnsley have struggled massively this season, sitting bottom of the table.

They are without a win on the road all term, and have taken just four points from 14 games away from Oakwell so far, scoring a mere nine goals.

However, Jones wasn't about to be drawn in to their problems on the pitch, as he continued: “It’s not for me to comment on them.

"They were a very tough side to play against because of youth and exuberance that they play with and they did that last year to great effect under their previous manager.

"Whatever’s happened this year I don’t know, but it’s not about them, it’s about us.

"We can’t second guess what Barnsley are going to do, how they’re going to come here, it’s all about us.

"We have to make sure that we have the same application as we’ve shown in the last five, six, seven games since we've come down from our enforced break.

"We’ve been excellent, we have to continue that and that’s all we have to concern ourselves with.

“I can’t second guess what Barnsley are going to do, all I’m going to be concerned with is us.”

The architect of the Tykes success last season, Valerien Ismael, left Oakwell in June to go to West Bromwich Albion, although he found himself out of a job last week, with the Baggies down in sixth place.

Markus Schopp replaced him, but only lasted under four months, leaving the club in November after just one win in 16, for the latest incumbent Poya Asbaghi to take over in November.

The 36-year-old Iranian, who has previously managed of Swedish Allsvenskan side IFK Göteborg, plus the Swedish U21s, hasn’t fared much better though, also claiming a singular victory from his 13 matches, with the Tykes currently on a run of no wins in 12, with just three points from a possible 36 and four straight defeats.

Asked if he had known of the latest manager, Jones added: “Obviously heard of him as you’ve got have a decent reputation to get the Barnsley job.

"They pick their managers, they’re, I wouldn’t say different in that, but they obviously have a process they use to pick their managers and a lot of them do very, very well.

"It's not somebody I've come up against before of the respective countries, but it’s a tough game.

"It’s a Championship game and not to be too cliched, but any points in the Championship you get are always hard earned and it’s going to be exactly the same again this week.”