Jones urges Luton to tighten up defensively when Posh are in town on Saturday

Luton chief demands a return to last season's solid foundation

By Mike Simmonds
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 9:12 am
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 9:14 am
Town boss Nathan Jones
Town boss Nathan Jones

Luton boss Nathan Jones has urged his side to get back to the solid defensive foundation that served them so well last term ahead of their first game of the Championship campaign against Peterborough on Saturday.

The Hatters' 12th placed finish in the second tier was built on a solid base which saw them keep 15 clean sheets and only concede 52 goals in 46 games, a world away from the 82 they had shipped in their first season back.

Although Jones has taken steps to bolster his attacking options, following a campaign in which they netted just 41 times, with some excellent signings over the summer, after the final two friendly matches that Town drew 1-1 with League One Portsmouth and then lose 3-1 to Premier League Brighton at the weekend, with a makeshift back-line in place, the boss wants things to tighten up at the back again.

He said: “I’m not too worried about the attacking things, we’ve scored in every game, looked a threat in every game, albeit probably not taken our chances as I think in every game we should have scored more.

“I’m not concerned with that (defensive) side of it.

“We’ve got to make sure that we keep clean sheets and at the minute, we’ve come up against two decent oppositions and not kept a clean sheet in either game and that’s the thing I’m rueing really because we’ve been based on that.

“Against Portsmouth last week, Portsmouth have had one chance and we drew the game 1-1, because we didn’t do the basics well enough, keeping a clean sheet.

“We were totally dominant, had four, five, six chances and didn’t take them, so both sides of that we have to improve slightly.

“But I’m really disappointed with today’s (Saturday) goals as we lost two headers, bouncing little balls, we weren’t aggressive, weren’t front-footed enough and that cost us as we were really in the ascendancy at 2-1.

“At 3-1, the last half an hour for me, it wasn’t quite a waste of time, it was just easy-osy pre-season and I didn’t want that.

“We’ll look at it and see what we need to do.

"At times, we looked a real good side. As soon as we stepped up the tempo, we had chance, chance and then they had a sucker punch and that’s why we need to do the basics better.

“It was a good test for that and I’d rather us put in that type of defensive performance this week, with a week to go than do it next week."

Although defending was the main point that Jones spoke of, he also wants a more clinical edge when the real stuff begins on Saturday after managing just two goals in their last two matches.

Following Elijah Adebayo’s strike against Pompey last weekend, Harry Cornick was on target this time, beating Spanish keeper Robert Sanchez from close range following Dan Burn’s horrendous error.

However, the forward had missed another golden opportunity earlier on, while he was denied again by the Albion stopper, before seeing a second half chance saved by replacement Jason Steele.

Jordan Clark also had a drive repelled after the break, as Jones added: “Both sides, without speaking badly of Brighton, there were so many chances, I don’t think defending was high on anyone’s agenda and that’s the frustrating thing.

“They being a Premier League side with the things they have at their disposal, will invariably have slightly more quality than us and they showed that with the goals they took.

“I think we had more clear-cut chances than they did, (Aaron) Connolly was a clear-cut chance, but the other two, they’ve had to do a hell of a lot.

“A great connection from outside the box and then we were two v one, and he managed to get that finish.

“We’ve managed to have better opportunities than them, but they have real quality and credit to them.”