Jones vows to 'address' Town's first half display after declaring his side 'wilted' at the Hawthorns

Luton manager is saddened by opening 45 minutes at promotion favourites

By Mike Simmonds
Sunday, 15th August 2021, 11:43 am
Updated Sunday, 15th August 2021, 11:47 am
Elijah Adebayo is denied by home keeper Sam Johnstone at the Hawthorns
Elijah Adebayo is denied by home keeper Sam Johnstone at the Hawthorns

Luton boss Nathan Jones has vowed to address his side’s shortcomings during their 3-2 defeat at West Bromwich Albion yesterday after a first half display in which he felt his side ‘wilted’.

The Hatters turned in a desperately poor opening 45 minutes, trailing 2-0 at the break to two simple set-piece goals, and might have been even further behind had it not been for some good saves from keeper Simon Sluga.

They did concede again just after the hour before mounting a late rally that saw Harry Cornick and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu both score as Town threatened to salvage an unlikely point, only to just run out of time.

However, Jones was more concerned with what had come before the valiant fightback, saying: “The first and third are really disappointing because the first goal kills our start and the third goal, we talked about not going behind, staying in the game so that when we get our opportunities, we have to chase it from one-nil down.

“We can chase a game from one-nil down, you can’t chase a game from three.

"Our goal difference from last year, we had a poor goal difference because of certain games, Norwich and Cardiff where we threw the towel in a bit and that then gives us a negative goal difference.

“We worked so hard to get three last week (against Peterborough) and then it could have been wiped out in one game.

“So every little thing that we work on, that we want to do was out the window for 60 minutes today and that will be addressed, I promise you.

“We didn’t weather the initial storm as they had a simple throw which we headed into our own net.

“We wilted and we wilted again before half time and then I had to make a change again to help them out and that can’t happen.

“I need leaders, I need those that are on there to stay in the game, that don’t go behind and have to chase a game.

“If we stay in the game here, we’ve got energy, we’ve got pace and power, we can bring on real game changers to go and change the game, but they had to go and chase it from 3-0 down.

"Man United couldn’t chase a game here from 3-0 down, let alone us.”

Jones did make the one substitution at half time, replacing attacker Fred Onyedinma with experienced midfielder Henri Lansbury, as when giving his reasoning on the switch, continued: “That was tactical, Fred was nowhere near in the first half, but as was anyone of my front three who were categorically different from the week before.

“The week before we ran over Peterborough, we were comfortable, this time they didn’t win a header.

“Elijah (Adebayo) didn't win a header, Matt Clarke looked a good player, (Dara) O’Shea bullied Fred, we lost every battle.

“We went man-for-man everywhere and they just overran us for 60 minutes, actually 45, so that’s a lesson for us.

"As if you don’t do the basics and no matter who you are or where you think you’re going, if you don’t do the basics right, you won’t have a career.

“Us competing with West Brom, let's be honest, it's a tall order anyway with the players they’ve got.

"They should go back up, with the squad they’ve got and they are perennial up and downers, so they are well equipped for the Championship because it's not like they signed a load of stars that don’t want to play in the Championship.

"They have people that work very hard to get back to the Premier League, they've got that type of squad, so they'll be very difficult to beat here. ”

Although Town improved drastically during that second period, it only proved to heighten Jones’ frustration that they hadn’t managed to perform like that earlier in the contest.

He added: “Imagine if you do that for 90? Imagine what you could have achieved if you'd done that for 90 instead of just 20?

“Then it could have been a different game, but it’s shoulda woulda coulda, and we didn’t.

“We got outbattled, outfought, out-headed, out-worked for 45 minutes and that cost us the game.

"Then they didn't have to do anything for the third goal, embarrassing, so we have to chase it from 3-0 down and that’s the thing that frustrates me.

“We stepped on to them far more, we had far more aggression, we made them look less prolific than what they were in the first half because we stepped on to them.

"We were front-footed and but for a bit of quality, Harry has a chance to lob the keeper when he comes out and it goes to Amari’i (Bell), Amari’i crosses over the bar.

"Pelly has a break, we have a two v one, if he just puts it into the box we have two v their one, so it could have been such a different game, but that's something we can learn from.

"To not do the basics is sacrilege though and I'm just really saddened that what we did for 20, we couldn't do for longer.

"Because if we did that for longer then it might have been different, but credit to West Brom because when you go 3-0 up you don't expect to lose a game."