Jones relieved to 'dust the cobwebs off' by getting through FA Cup clash ahead of Cherries visit

Luton chief eager to see how his side will shape up against leaders

Friday, 14th January 2022, 3:30 pm
Amari'i Bell looks to move forward during Luton's FA Cup win over Harrogate

Town boss Nathan Joes was grateful his side had the opportunity to 'dust the cobwebs' off when playing Harrogate Town in the FA Cup last weekend ahead of tomorrow’s Championship clash against leaders Bournemouth.

The Hatters went into their third round tie against the League Two opponents on the back of 29 days without a game due to Covid outbreaks over the Christmas period and although they led through Elijah Adebayo’s wonderful goal on 18 minutes, struggled to ever really get going and hit their straps during an underwhelming first period.

They improved after the break, scoring three more times to ensure safe passage, but were never quite at their best, understandably so given their lack of match action.

Jones was thankful to have had the cup clash first, rather than go straight in with a Cherries side who are top of the table and have sharpshooter Dominic Solanke upfront, the former Liverpool man with 19 goals already this term.

Scott Parker's side were also able to play the majority of their games over the festive period, as Jones knows that makes them even tougher opponents after such a lengthy absence for his squad, as he said: “First half we were a little bit sluggish.

"It was good to have that game and if you looked at any of the upsets in the cup on the weekend, and considering we haven’t played for a month against a decent League Two side, to come through and win 4-0 shows that we’re not in a bad place.

“We’re going to be us and that’s all we can do. We couldn’t quite be us last week because the energy levels weren’t quite there because we had to dust the cobwebs off.

“We were better second half after we had 45 minutes under our belt, and we’d given people a bit more game time.

“A few had game time on Tuesday (development squad match with Stevenage) as well so we should be in a better position, just to be us.

"Tactically we need to be good against Bournemouth, they have good players in every area and a real strong squad, Premier League experience, Premier League quality, we know we will have to be at our best.

"What we have taken out of the Harrogate game is that we needed a bit of rhythm, so we’re very grateful to have had that game before the Bournemouth game.

“If we’d have played Bournemouth last week, who have played over Christmas and are in far greater rhythm than we are, we might’ve struggled somewhat.

“If took us 45 minutes to find our feet and at Championship level you can’t go 45 minutes like that, you have to hit the ground running.

“We know Bournemouth, they’re a good footballing side, very fluent, like to control games and have players that can hurt you if you’re not at it.

“They don’t change, regardless of manager, regardless of the team they play.

“We were excellent, structurally, in the away game, but we switched off twice and they scored twice and then suddenly you’re on the back foot.

“Then, we were more aggressive, we stepped up, we we defending better in the second half, we were really front-footed and got a number of opportunities and, probably, on the balance of the game, should’ve got something out of it. But shoulda, woulda, coulda.

“Now, we have to make sure we learn from that and put that into practice this weekend.

"I hope that our energy levels are back to normal and, if they are, we always like entertaining big sides here.”

After an excellent and pulsating 1-1 draw with previous leaders Fulham at Kenilworth Road in their last contest before Christmas, a game coming when Town were in the thick of their season, Jones was frustrated not to have been in a similar position going into the contest with another of the division's heavyweights.

He continued: "It would be far better if we’d have had a chunk of games in-between. but let’s say, either side of the enforced break that we’ve had, we’re unbeaten.

“We’ve scored eight goals in three games, two clean sheets, and only drew a game against, arguably, the best team in the division with Bournemouth, Fulham.

“So, it shows we’ve been in good form. We’ve had an enforced break and that’s the only thing we can’t control at the minute.

“If our last three games had been in the last two-and-a-half weeks and we’d played Blackpool, Fulham and Harrogate, going on with real rhythm into the Bournemouth game then, yes, I’m sure our tails would be up slightly more than they are now,

"But we have to see how many of the cobwebs we’ve shaken off, only time will tell.”

With their lack of games, Luton are now sitting 16th in the table, falling four places from where they were after the clash with Fulham on December 11.

Town are also now 11 points adrift of the top six, although do still have four matches in hand, as Jones added: "We’ve dropped a little bit, but we haven’t lost masses of ground.

"We’re still in a decent enough position, it’s just in the coming games we have to pick up points.

“We’ve got four games in hand on some teams, three on most and two on pretty much everyone, so it’s a difficult time.

“I prefer points on the board, and not games in hadn’t but that’s the world we live in.

"We have to make sure that we now add some consistency to the next two to three months, because we’re looking at 18-20 games.

“So, if we can add some consistency and pick up points, probably in the next ten games we’ll see what kind of season we can look forward to."