Luton skipper frustrated about Town's repeated failure to score first
Hatters defender Alan Sheehan couldn’t hide his frustration after his side's inability to score the first goal reared its ugly head yet again during their 3-0 defeat at Stoke City last night.
James McLean's goal on 37 minutes that put Stoke in front, taking full advantage of another defensive error by Town, means Luton have now conceded the opener in all of their last nine matches, not on target first since the 3-0 win over Bristol City on October 19.
In fact, they have only broken the deadlock on three other occasions this term, against Blackburn, Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion, going behind in 17 of their 21 Championship fixtures.
Sheehan said: “It’s very frustrating.
“That first goal was going to be important tonight and it’s disappointing, because it was a massive turning point.
“We should have reacted better, we didn’t, they got the second before half time and then the confidence from that and they score again.
“They scored at the right times, they put the nail in the coffin at the right time.”
Boss Graeme Jones hoped lessons had been learned from the recent Brentford defeat, in which Luton shipped a further four goals in 15 minutes after falling behind.
However, once again, Luton failed to heed the warnings, allowing Joe Allen a free header from inside the box to double Stoke's lead on the stroke of half time.
The defence then parted for the Welsh international to make it 3-0 moments after the break, when robbing Glen Rea, as the Town chief said: “That’s what you don’t want.
"You want to get in, make a few changes and affect momentum.
"When we talk about the Wigan win, we conceded round about the same time, but we dug in for 15 minutes, got into half time, managed to regroup, showed that steely determination, that character, that was the reason we won the game.
"We failed to do it today, they scored the second goal at a good time, the third goal was always going to be the most important one.
"We make another error, three nil down, game over.”
Luton had created some opportunities themselves before McLean was on target, none better than Ryan Tunnicliffe's chance, the midfielder taking too long when found by Luke Berry's pass, allowing Danny Batth to get back and challenge.
The blank was Luton's third in succession on their travels, as they have not found the net since Harry Cornick scored at Birmingham on October 26.
Sheehan knows they need to show a far great clinical edge in future games, saying: "I thought we could have been a few up before they scored.
"They scored, and were a bit on top, we’ve got to see it out until half time and then they scored again, so it was very disappointing.
"Then just after half time, they score again and it turns into a really disappointing night.
"I felt we were very comfortable at the start, maybe too comfortable and it's very disappointing as we felt we could do something.
"After the first half an hour, we should have sensed an issue and been more ruthless and scored a goal, then it would have been nice to see the reaction, but that didn’t happen.
“Ruthlessness is the word. When we’re in there, we score a lot of goals, it’s well documented we’re conceding a good few too.
"So just a ruthless edge and unfortunately, it breaks down in our first third, they’re ruthless and they score the first goal.”
When asked about Tunnicliffe's failure to hit the net, the former Manchester United youngster still without a goal since arriving from Millwall in the summer, Jones added: "We speak a lot about meaning to score, not hoping to score and that was a hoping to score.
"He had two great opportunities at the weekend, so tactically we’re getting people in the right positions.
"You have to that ruthless streak in you to make it count and the last couple of games, I’ve spoken to him about it, so we’ll see if he improves."