Jones urges Luton to enjoy the challenge of trying to remain a top six Championship side

Hatters into the play-offs following weekend win

By Mike Simmonds
Monday, 28th February 2022, 11:26 am
Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Luton boss Nathan Jones has told his side to enjoy the challenge of trying to maintain their place in the top six of the Championship after finally climbing into the play-off places with a 1-0 win over Derby County on Saturday.

The Hatters had been threatening to make the leap for the last few weeks, after putting together a magnificent run of form, but they finally did rise above the dotted line thanks to Danny Hylton’s 67th minute winner at Kenilworth Road, making it nine victories from 13 second tier encounters.

It also saw Luton pick up three successive league triumphs for the first time since returning to the Championship as they leapfrogged both Middlesbrough and Sheffield United in the process, the duo going down to defeats at Barnsley and Millwall.

The Hatters could cement their position even further in in the next few weeks, as they have games in hand over the rest of the top six following their FA Cup tie with Chelsea on Wednesday night.

Although the chasing pack including Nottingham Forest, Coventry and Millwall, even possibly down to West Bromwich Albion, Blackpool and Stoke in 15th position will be breathing down their necks, that was of no concern to Jones, as he said: “I hope it’s a positive one (reaction) as suddenly now you're in there, you don’t want to come out.

"It’s not now, you’re climbing and clawing people back, now you’re one of those people are trying to claw back, so it’s a different kind of pressure.

"But we don’t feel that as I said to them at half time today, where would you rather be?

"Two years ago, we were coming out here having to win games, because if we didn’t the trapdoor was about to open.

"Now we’re not, so go and enjoy it, enjoy the challenge.

"If we play the way we can, we’re a difficult side to play against, we’re difficult to contain and that’s all I want.

"First half we weren’t us, we didn't play with enough zest, enough tempo, but after the first 15 minutes, we had all the territory, we had all the efforts, so we were on top.

"We had to show a bit more quality, a bit more zest and if we did that I was sure we’d win the game and that’s what happened.”

The fact that Luton have seen off teams with top flight pedigree in their recent history to get to the lofty position they find themselves in, was something that Jones took great pride in too, adding: "Stoke and West Brom have been Premier League, Stoke have been in the Premier League for the majority of the last decade or whatever it is.

"We know what we’re competing with, we know how tough it is this league.

"We know that every week is a different test and we’re in real good form, but we do the basics right.

"We’re playing for each other, we’re not Fulham, we’re not the most gifted team in the league, but what we are is a fantastic team.”