Mpanzu’s joy after gobbling up his first goal of the season

Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu celebrates a goal with James Justin recently
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu celebrates a goal with James Justin recently

A beaming midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu was overjoyed to weigh in with his first goal of the season at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

The 24-year-old hadn’t netted since the 3-1 win over Forest Green last season, but was up and running with the opening strike at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.

I didn’t think he’d see me, but he saw me and I tucked it away. It was good to put us 1-0 up and get off the mark.

Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu

It all came about after a lovely move on Luton’s right, Danny Hylton’s flick sending Andrew Shinnie away, and he displayed great vision to cross for Mpanzu to beat keeper Joe McDonnell at his near post.

He said: “I bounced it in and the keeper and defender couldn’t get it.

“Shins was excellent today, I can’t lie, he was great all day, tackling and thankfully he put it on a plate for me and I ate it up.

“I didn’t think he’d see me, but he saw me and I tucked it away. It was good to put us 1-0 up and get off the mark.”

Boss Nathan Jones was relieved to see his highly-rated midfielder show a cool head when faced with the whites of McDonnell’s eyes, saying: “Shinnie got in , he picked out a great ball and he’s in a real good position Pelly in the box.

“He shows a bit of composure and sometimes he’s hit and miss as that could have ended up in Kingston, but he showed a clinical edge.”

Team-mate Elliot Lee was another who wasn’t sure where the effort was going to go, saying: “You never know with Pell, it could have ended up anywhere.

“We’re all delighted for him, he’s a massive player for us and we were sitting on the coach earlier saying he hasn’t got himself a goal yet.

“So it’s great to see Pell nick that goal and it was a great ball from Andrew Shinnie as well.”

Mpanzu hasn’t been without his chances this season though, as he has got in a number of good positions, but on appearance number 17, he took the opportunity.

The former West Ham youngster continued: “I’ve had shots here and there, mostly on target, had a couple blazing, but me and Shinnie and Granty (Jorge Grant), he’s been putting the free kicks in, we’ve got to keep putting goals in.

“Not just for Collo (James Collins) and Hylts (Danny Hylton), but all the midfielders, share them out and it makes it easier for our strikers to not have to get goals every week.”

On the game itself, Mpanzu’s effort was crucial as it gave Luton the lead, a position they very rarely, if ever, lose from.

He said: “The first goal is important for us.

“We know we’ve got a solid defence, so the first goal is always good for us.

“Luckily we got it and the gaffer said once we got the first goal against these lot, then they’ll crumble.

“We stayed firm at the back Matty (Pearson) and Sonny (Bradley) and when Sheeze (Alan Sheehan) came on as well, we all defended well, so credit to them.”

They had to battle it out during a first half that was low on quality, with Town knowing they could come on strong the longer the game went.

Mpanzu added: “The gaffer told us they’re going to go long ball and we just defended it well, kept the clean sheet and then me and El scored.

“I know we’ve got Sonny and Matty at the back, they defended well, we just needed to get on second balls and we did that.

“We didn’t play particularly well in the first half, but just made sure we kept it 0-0, then went on to score two goals and that was a good win for us.

“Regardless of their form, I think they’ve lost five on the bounce, now six with us, they’ve got nothing to lose.

“We need to prepare for that, and we did, credit to us.

“We didn’t slip down to their level, we tried to play, not as good first half, second half we did better, and came away with the win.”