Mpanzu targets a late play-off push for the Hatters

Midfielder looking to finish on a high

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 7:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 7:54 am
Hatters midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu charges forward against Preston

Hatters midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu hasn’t ruled out an unlikely late push for the Championship play-offs this season.

Going into the international break the Hatters find themselves in 13th place, 12 points away from the top six, although they do possess a game in hand over Reading, who occupy the final berth.

Following back-to-back wins against Coventry and Preston North End, Mpanzu and his team-mates have some time off ahead of an Easter period that sees them head to Derby County and entertain Barnsley.

Luton then face seven further games, at home to fierce rivals Watford, Reading, Middlesbrough and Rotherham, also visiting Wycombe Wanderers, Bristol City and finally QPR on the final day.

The former West Ham youngster said: “We’ll have a break and then hopefully we come back fighting fit and it’s going to be a big couple of games left.

“Let’s see what we can do, the play-offs are not out of reach for us, if we get a run together we can make that.

“He’s (Nathan Jones) going to keep us going, we can’t be on the beach as they say, we’ve got to keep fighting and whatever happens at the end of the season happens.

“Hopefully we can gain points until the 46 games are done.”

Town’s win at Deepdale on Saturday saw the Hatters up to the 50-point tally, thanks to a late own goal from keeper Daniel Iversen, who couldn’t stop James Collins’ effort rebounding in.

Mpanzu, who also went close in the first half himself from range, believed it was a well deserved success, saying: “I thought we controlled the whole game.

“First half was a bit scrappy, first 10-15, we tried to get the ball down, but that’s how the game went.

“We had a couple of chances, I had a chance deflected, it was dipping, I can’t lie to you.

“People have said I’ve got blazing squad, it was a great strike, deflected, but didn’t go in.

"Breesy (James Bree) had a chance, but I thought for that 45 minutes, we dominated, the only thing missing was a goal.

“At half time the gaffer said you’ve got to up the tempo, up the quality in the final third and that’s what we did.

“Second half we kept putting balls in the box, Eli (Elijah Adebayo) had a good save from the keeper, but thankfully we got our goal.”

As he had done at Nottingham Forest recently too, Mpanzu was the instigator of the winning strike.

He delivered a wonderful cross from the right, which saw Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall denied by a superb save from Iversen, before Collins popped up at the far post.

It capped a starring role from the midfielder on his 289th appearance, as he said; “Thankfully I put a ball in, I don’t know what happened then, Collo put it in, I think it was an OG, but three points is what we needed today.

“Kiernan might get the assist as he was in the box as well, (Sam) Nombe was there as well, so thankfully it went in the goal.

“Three points, it doesn’t matter who scores, even if it’s an OG, we take the points.

“I’ve had a couple of good games recently and hopefully I can just keep my head down and keep going.

“Playing good and not winning is not a great feeling, so playing good and getting three points is wonderful stuff, I’m going to enjoy the coach home.”

Meanwhile, when asked about his midfielder’s performance on the day, Jones said: “The boy’s outstanding, he’s been outstanding all season .

“He’s maturing and showing a real quality and I’m so happy with him.”