Luton boss left flabbergasted by 'lacklustre' derby display from his Hatters side at Watford

Town manager reacts to defeat at Vicarage Road

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 26th September 2020, 3:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 4:27 pm
Hatters boss Nathan Jones after today's 1-0 defeat to Watford
Hatters boss Nathan Jones after today's 1-0 defeat to Watford

Hatters chief Nathan Jones declared himself 'flabbergasted' by the 'lacklustre' nature of his side's performance during their first 1-0 defeat at arch rivals Watford this afternoon.

A competitive fixture that had lay dormant for almost 15 years had seen plenty of thrills and spills previously, Matthew Spring's stunning 30-yard strike back in 2002 sending Luton on their way to a 2-1 win, or Paul Telfer's double almost a decade earlier ensuring the visitors ran out 4-2 victors.

Both of those games had something this one didn't though, fans, as with the encounter played behind closed doors, it robbed the players of any kind of fervent atmosphere to utilise, the only slight flashpoint coming in stoppage time once Hornets striker Troy Deeney came on, as Rhys Norrington-Davies saw yellow for a challenge on the home striker.

Although pointing out the difference they would have made to the contest, Jones still couldn't understand quite why his side were so below par.

He said: "I thought it was a real lacklustre game, it’s probably the most lacklustre derby you could ever have seen.

"I don’t think anyone in the whole ground – and I include everyone in that, the referee, their staff, who were appealing for yellow cards at every little thing, I don’t think anyone in the ground realised, including the players, that it was actually a derby.

“We were flat, that’s all I can affect, the contrast in performances that we’ve had so far to this one was astounding and it’s difficult to fathom that.

“The game changed in the space of two minutes.

"We had the best chance of the game and hit the bar, they went up the other end and scored and then that was the difference between the two teams.

“We almost went out of the Championship last year and they were a Premier League side, so it least shows we’re competing on that level, but I’m just flabbergasted by the lacklustre performance really.

“I didn’t see that coming because I thought, the worst case scenario, we would be right at it, in terms of intensity, but we weren’t.

"I don’t think the game would’ve been like that if there had been fans here, because they would’ve demanded a bit more and adrenaline might have kicked in, so it did definitely have an effect.

“But I’m just not sure anyone in this place actually realised it was a derby today, you would never have thought it, it looked like a pre-season game and that, for me, is disappointing."

The game was also Town's sixth in the space of 22 days since the season begun, which took its toll according to the boss, who continued: "It hasn't helped having games twice a week as you can do no prep work, do no rest work, you're just dusting people down.

"Especially with it being Man United on Tuesday, because you can't just put a loads of kids out against Man United as you get embarrassed, so we had to make sure we were competitive.

"The exertion in that and then the recovery time meant we came in here slightly undercooked.

"We’ve lost one or two this week in terms of Glen Rea and James Bree, so there was a lot really, but I was just disappointed with our overall performance as I felt we were lacklustre.

"I can’t cane them too much as we probably would have taken six (points) from nine to start the season, it’s just this game I thought we would have been up a bit more for it."

The game was decided in the first half when James Collins hit the bar from close range following Harry Cornick's cross, only to see Watford go straight up the other end and grab the only goal through Joao Pedro.

Jones added: "I'm very rarely angry with James Collins, he’s done brilliantly for me, that’s what happens.

"Sometimes you miss a chance and then they go up the other end, if we’d have scored, we’d have got a minimum point out of the game as their chance probably wouldn’t have happened, it would have changed the direction of the game.

"So it did actually change it, but whether we were better than them to win the game, I’m not saying that, as it was a real dour affair and lacklustre, for whatever reason.

"I’m disappointed as even though we didn't really play well, we got into great opportunities, the amount of crosses we’ve had blocked or Ben Foster’s caught, that we didn't finish the action, didn't finish with an opportunity really disappointed me, as we got into decent areas.

"I have no idea what their budget is, but compared to ours, to show that we’re competing shows that we’ve come a long, long way, but I would have wanted more from us today."