Luton chief has the 'utmost respect' for opponents Barnsley

Nathan Jones confronts a Barnsley player after the 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road last seasonNathan Jones confronts a Barnsley player after the 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road last season
Nathan Jones confronts a Barnsley player after the 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road last season
Jones impressed by the manner in which Tykes stayed up

Town boss Nathan Jones insists he has the utmost respect for today’s Championship opponents Barnsley after the manner in which the Tykes, like Luton, survived the drop past term.

When the season resumed after lockdown, the Oakwell side were seven points adrift of safety, one worse off than Town, and looking destined to head back to League One.

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But under Gerhard Struber, who took over in November, they picked up 15 points from their final nine games, as they were one of the form sides in the division during the run-in, to somehow escape the drop with a marvellous final day win at Brentford.

That sequence also included a 1-1 draw at Luton, a contest the Tykes really should have won, and ahead the two sides facing off on the opening day of the campaign this afternoon, Jones said: "It’s a very tough, really tough game.

“Every time we play them, they have high energy, they’re a young, energetic side that can really make it difficult.

“They have a good structure and I have the utmost respect for Barnsley.

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“It was great to see that they did stay up because when I watched them play in the FA Cup against Crewe and that was early January.

"You could see the impact the manager had on the squad and on the team and I really fancied them to get out of it.

“As it was, they took a bit of time to gather momentum but then they finished really, really strongly along with obviously Leeds, Wigan, Fulham, those form teams, and we were in that.

“It’s a real tough game to start with away at Oakwell, you’ve always got a tough game.

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"Last time we went there was my last defeat before I left and it was a tough game, the two best sides in the league for me got promoted that year.

“They're a side that I think do good work and it really will be a tough game.”

Barnsley began the season with another solid 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup last weekend while Town were knocking out promotion favorites Norwich City 3-1.

It finished what Jones hailed as an excellent pre-season campaign he feels his side are good to go in their for a crack at the second tier once more.

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He added: “We’re ready, we had a preview of what it will be like towards the end of last season, it was more than a preview, it was what we’re going to face week in week out.

"We’ve had a good pre-season, we’ve had a real tough test against Norwich last week, so we’re in a decent place, you can never gauge loads from pre-season, but we’re as prepared we we can be.

“We’ve built up the opposition and we’ve have had some real varied opposition.

"We had a nice start, a real good club game against Berkhamsted, then upped the tempo against Stevenage and had a real structural test.

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"We went to non-league and had a real good test against Wealdstone and then had a real Barnsley-esque test against Northampton.

"Then we came up against one of the best sides in the Championship (Norwich), so it’s been a real varied pre-season.

"Structurally we've been very good, we've built and now the proof will be in the pudding.”