Mpanzu keen to point out time-wasting antics will be punished as he explains watch-tapping celebration against Wycombe

Midfielder nets stunning first goal of the season in Chairboys victory
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu points to his wrist after curling him the opener against Wycombe on SaturdayPelly-Ruddock Mpanzu points to his wrist after curling him the opener against Wycombe on Saturday
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu points to his wrist after curling him the opener against Wycombe on Saturday

Luton midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu has explained what was behind his watch-tapping celebration after scoring a quite brilliant first goal of the season against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.

The Chairboys are long time adversaries of the Hatters since Town won promotion back to the Football League, meeting 11 times now.

Under Gareth Ainsworth, Wanderers have employed a particular style of football, especially at Kenilworth Road, which sees them regularly time-waste, slow the game down and use whatever kind of tactics they can in a bid to frustrate the hosts in their attempts to get a result.

It has worked in Bedfordshire in recent years, with three wins from four at one stage, while they were at it again on Saturday, especially when coming out late for the second period, leaving Town and referee Graham Scott patiently awaiting their arrival.

The game-plan went out the window though once Mpanzu managed to break the deadlock on the hour mark with a wonderful curling attempt beyond keeper Ryan Allsop and quickly celebrated by pointing to his wrist, in a marked reference to the time-wasting that had gone on before.

Speaking after Elliot Lee’s late goal had made it three wins in a row at home against Wycombe, Mpanzu said: “I can't lie, they try to come and slow the game down, if you try and do that you don’t score first, you’re going to get punished.

“Listen, don't come and waste time, and we score so then you’re trying to hurry the game up.

"I was like, you can’t waste time, come to the Kenny, as we’re going to punish you and that’s what we did.

“It’s all tactical, so you’ve got to keep your man right, keep your man straight, so we handled that well, professionalism and came up with the win.”

It wasn’t just on the pitch that Wycombe were at it this time though, with their officials behind the dug-out and in the stands showing some behaviour that bordered on the embarrassing at times.

Intent on refereeing the game themselves, they resorted to counting down the minutes until the half-time break, and also Town’s time to take throw-ins, berating official Scott as he left the field too, due to Scott Kashket’s late goal being disallowed for offside.

Town boss Nathan Jones often looked over in bemusement at the noise generated, while skipper Sonny Bradley appeared to have words with the fourth official at half time about their conduct, as Mpanzu said: "They don’t want to go away!

"They’re following us in every league, we know how they play, we dealt with them and we’ve won a lot more than they beat us, so we came out of it on top today.

“You’ve got to take it in your stride, every team’s different.

“You’re not going to come up against that every week, that’s the way Wycombe play, you’ve got to respect them, got to cancel it out.

“If there was a crowd here you wouldn’t hear it, but it’s an empty stadium you’re going to hear it, we’ve just got to focus on the pitch and we did that today."

On his goal too, Mpanzu collected Harry Cornick’s pass before unleashing a lovely strike for a first goal of the season and 18th in Town colours since signing in December 2013.

It extended his lengthy run of never being on the losing when he has found the net too, as the former West Ham youngster said: “Great build up play and then the ball came out to Cornick, he gave it to me, I took one touch and finessed it.

“It wasn’t quite a banger today, but listen, it’s great to get off the mark and put the team up 1-0.

“A few people think I’m blazing squad, there’s a couple of members in there, but I’ve left now, I finessed it.

“The keeper’s clutching at air, it’s a great goal and hopefully I get more this season.”

Managed Jones joked: "He often scores bangers, he often hits Bury Park and the car-park quite often in training, so we try to keep him level-headed, tried to get a bit more control.

"But he showed great control today, nearly had a second as well, flashed past the post, as he showed real cleverness."

Mpanzu, Town's longest serving player with 257 appearances under his belt now, added: “Where we train, the carpark’s not even close, so I don't know what he’s talking about!

"Every week we do shooting sessions, we get on to each other if we miss, today it’s gone for me and I'm glad to get a first goal of the season.”