Luton boss Jones learned his lessons from 10-man Forest draw with second half switch against Coventry

Hatters chief went to a back four as his side held off the Sky Blues

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 9:04 am
Updated Thursday, 18th March 2021, 9:07 am
Simon Sluga slides in to clear the danger for the Hatters

Luton boss Nathan Jones felt both he and his team learned their lessons from being held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Nottingham Forest earlier in the season when beating Coventry City 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Back in October, the Hatters had been a goal and a man to the good at the break against the Reds, when Nikolas Ioannou was dismissed on the stroke of half time.

Town couldn’t make their numerical superiority count in the second period though, eventually pegged back by Glen Rea's own goal as the spoils were shared.

In midweek, Luton this time had a two goal lead after defender Kyle McFadzean was dismissed for a handball on the line, as it was the visitors who once again started the stronger after the interval.

This time however, Jones made an adjustment to his tactics, swapping from a three man defence to a flat back four, with a diamond operating in front of them, eager not to make the same mistake and so it proved, Luton regaining the initiative and going on to miss a hatful of chances as they should have won by far more.

On why he altered things, the manager said: “We had a little bit of a taster as we played Forest here and we were in total control of the game.

"They went down to 10 men and we were 1-0 up, we stayed at a back three, but we never really went on and had any impetus.

"So what we did, we changed to a back four when we felt it was right, went to a diamond, as they were very centrally strong and what we did then, was we controlled the game.

"We had plenty of chances and clear, clear-cut chances, that we should have extended the lead.

"We realise that Championship games are tough and margins are always small in these games, but off the back of Norwich (3-0 defeat), we’ve had two real good performances (Swansea and Coventry) and probably not got what deserved from both.”

Although Town were 2-0 ahead when the sides swapped ends, they were given two huge let-offs by Sky Blues striker Max Biamou who missed two glorious opportunities when clean through on one on against Simon Sluga.

He put the first against the post, with the second sliced well wide, as despite Jones not impressed with the manner of his side’s defending, he felt they were due some overdue good fortune, continuing: “Massively (frustrated with the defending), I thought there was two chances they had where we didn’t handle the one ball.

"We got done and we probably deserved a little bit of luck as we haven’t had much lately in terms of anything.

"You look at the Norwich goals, who were the best team in the league, but they must have had three deflections before (Teemu) Pukki was able to tap in.

"So look, we deserve a bit of luck, but we had enough that regardless if they had taken the lead, we’ve had enough to win the game and we’re delighted with the win as it’s a big win.”

Victory elevated Luton 15 points clear of the relegation zone, with Rotherham hammered 4-1 by Watford, as with just 10 games remaining, Luton find themselves in a far better position than last term, when they were bottom and clear favourites to drop down to League One.

Jones wasn’t about to put his feet up and relax though, adding: "It’s not the pressure is off as a manager, you want to win every game, it’s a different pressure though.

"We want to evolve as I came back last year and we were on 35 points with nine to go.

"We’re on 47 now with 10, so we’re 12 points better off than where we were last year, which is a fantastic place to be in, it really is.

"It shows that we’re evolving, shows we’re trying to now to establish ourselves as a Championship football club which is what we want to do and every year, praise the lord, and thanks to the board and to Gary Sweet (chief executive) and to the people we have here, we have evolved every year from 2016 and before that, before I came.

"But from the time I've come, we’ve evolved every year as a football club and that's brilliant and that's continuing and that's what we have to make sure that we are doing.

"I think you can see from performances levels, that was an excellent performance and it was a Championship performance.

"Saturday was a Championship performance against someone with Premier League aspirations (Swansea), so it shows that were in a good place, but there's plenty, plenty more still to come.”