Luton boss insists first Championship clean sheet was for Sluga

James Shea celebrates keeping Town's first clean sheet in the Championship on Saturday
James Shea celebrates keeping Town's first clean sheet in the Championship on Saturday

Luton chief Graeme Jones insisted that his side’s first shut out of the campaign in the Championship on Saturday was for keeper Simon Sluga.

The Croatian international had started Town’s first 11 games in the league, conceding 20 goals, including two from decisive errors in the 2-0 defeat at Derby County last time out.

That saw Jones opt for James Shea, who carried on his form from last Hatters' League One title-winning campaign with a solid and assured display, making one wonderful save, at 2-0, somehow finger-tipping Spanish striker Rodri’s header on to the post.

Jones said: “I’m sure James will be the same, that clean sheet is for Simon Sluga as he’s taken an awful lot of stick.

"He’s a new player to this country, he supported James today, but James Shea was outstanding, absolutely outstanding.”

On the final whistle, Sluga was one of the first people who went over to Shea, with goalkeeping coach Kevin Dearden, further reinforcing the camaraderie between the pair.

Jones continued: "James supported Simon 100 per cent with no complaint, and I’ve seen the same thing from Simon.

"Simon Sluga will come again, I can assure you, but as I’ve kept saying, we are so grateful to have James Shea at this football club.

"His performance today was perfect, his decision making was one of the best I’ve seen as a goalkeeper.”

Goalscorer Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu was quick to praise Shea for his performance too, saying: “It’s great for Sheasy, he had to bide his time, he’s come in, made a great save on to the post.

"So all credit to Sheasy and for Matty (Pearson) and Sonny (Bradley) for making the job easier for him as well.

Meanwhile, the fit-again Martin Cranie, who was grateful to Shea during the first half with a back header which went straight to the unmarked Robins attacker Kasey Palmer, added: “Sheasy was brilliant today.

"He mopped that up for me, made a great save first half, then from the header second half, another great save, I think he caught everything in the air, so he was brilliant.

“It was an unbelievable save that keeps us a two goal cushion. It doesn't give them a chance to build on the goal, so it was an important part of the game.”