Mpanzu: Luton's players didn't need the significance of rivalry with Watford built up to them before beating Hornets

Midfielder knew just how big a game Saturday's fixture was

By Mike Simmonds
Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 11:35 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 11:36 am
Town midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu
Town midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu

Luton midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu insisted his side didn’t need to be told just how big game their long-awaited first home derby clash Watford was on Saturday.

The Hatters hadn't met their sworn enemies on home soil since 2006, while Town hadn't emerged victorious at Kenilworth Road since well before that, a 2-1 win in 1993 their last success.

Although under-dogs on paper, given the Hornets' position in the Championship, sitting second, it was Luton who looked the promotion contenders from the very first whistle, barely giving their opponents a kick, particularly in the opening 45 minutes where Town were utterly dominant

They went on to emerge triumphant thanks to James Collins' penalty with 12 minutes to go, as Mpanzu admitted the squad hadn't required anyone to build up the significance of the fixture for them.

He said: “We didn’t need it, everyone was speaking about how Luton v Watford is a big rivalry, we haven’t played each other for a while, so it was always built up as a big game.

“We knew that we had to be focused, ready, as they can pick you apart.

"They’re a great team, going to be in the Premier League most probably and it was good to get that win over them.

“It would have been better with the fans as the fans would have had this place rocking and given us even more of a boost.

"But it’s a great game, I don’t know how long we haven’t beaten Watford for at home, but it was a great victory."

Mpanzu was by far the longest serving member of the Hatters team on the day, as having signed when the club was a Conference side back in December 2013, making the move permanent a month later, he has now amassed over seven years service.

On his 293rd appearance for Luton, the 27-year-old knew just what the game meant for the Hatters supporters too, saying: “Yes, I understand it fully.

"There was a flare thrown on to the ground before the game, so I know what it’s about and it was good to put in a good performance and get the three points.

"Every game you’ve got to have the same mentality, obviously there’s a bit more edge in a derby, so I think that might have played a little part that we played so well.

“We didn’t want to lose this game for the fans, the board, everyone that was involved.

"The boys from minute one, we pressed them, it was absolutely great, so a good all-round performance.”

Town should have led by the break, with 12 attempts at the visitors goal, although none of them testing keeper Daniel Bachmann.

Mpanzy himself was one of the culprits, hammering an excellent chance over the top from close range, but he wasn’t too worried that the Hatters had blown their chance going into the second period, saying: “No, because we knew that we could make more.

"We were getting in, balls in the box, we knew that one would fall for us and we would put it away.”

The result also put to bed Town’s efforts at Vicarage Road earlier in the season as they went down 1-0, without having an actual shot on target.

Mpanzu addded: “We were slow, we didn’t really put any edge into that away game.

"We had our chances, unfortunately Collo (James Collins) hit the crossbar then they went and scored straight away, so it could have been a different game.

"But the performance here at home, we just knew we needed to get about, needed to press them, needed to move it and that’s what we did.”