Naismith highlights Adebayo's top flight quality as the difference in Luton's FA Cup victory

Forward notches his 11th of the season with excellent strike

By Mike Simmonds
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 6:30 am
Town forward Elijah Adebayo stretches to control against Harrogate on Sunday
Town forward Elijah Adebayo stretches to control against Harrogate on Sunday

Hatters defender Kal Naismith felt that Elijah Adebayo’s Premier League quality swung the FA Cup third round tie with Harrogate Town in the hosts' favour on Sunday.

There was little, if anything, in the contest for the opening 18 minutes, as the League Two visitors were more than holding their own, looking the better side at times, when keeper James Shea thumped a routine clearance downfield.

Striker Cameron Jerome jumped with his marker to help the ball on as Adebayo managed to get his imposing frame in front of Sulphurites defender Nathan Sheron.

With nothing appearing to be on, he shifted the ball on to his right foot, turned, and in a flash, cracked a drive that was destined for the bottom corner from the moment it left his boot, visiting keeper Mark Oxley diving in hope rather than expectation, unable to get anywhere near it.

Although Town still couldn’t ever get to the very best after the former Fulham youngster's moment of magic, the effects of a tough week in training and not having played in 29 days prior to kick-off, they managed to add three more goals in the second period, Jerome, Naismith and then Luke Berry on target.

However, Naismith was quick to highlight Adebayo’s 11th of an increasingly impressive campaign as the turning point, saying: “What we had was the big man up top.

"The game was to and fro, nothing really in it, the big man gets it, turns and finds the bottom corner and when you’ve got that Premier League quality, that’s what can happen.

“The game kind of turned on that and then to be fair, they were still in it, even at 2-0 they were still in it, but we were able just to kill the game.

“The manager stressed before the game it was just about winning, we knew we were a bit rusty, we never performed like we can do, it was a long time without a game, so it’s expected.

“When you’ve got a Premier League striker up top and I don’t say that lightly, I train with him day in day out, I know what we can do, he’s at a great place to keep progressing and he will.

“He works his socks off every day and he’s a top, top player, a top lad to be around, but as I say, that’s just brilliance, it’s out of nothing.

“We couldn’t get in the game, we weren’t passing it well, weren’t really doing anything well.

"A ball up to big Cam, I think he flicks it on and then out of absolutely nothing from about 25 yards out, the big man manages to swivel and put it in the bottom corner.

“That was the difference because then we just said, the big man has got us a goal now, let’s try and get into the game, which we still never really managed to.

"They passed it well, they are really well set up, so credit to their manager and their staff, they’re a good side.”

Although fellow goalscorer Berry wasn’t on the pitch at the time Adebayo opened the scoring, he could still appreciate the quality of the strike from the sidelines.

The midfielder said: “I watched it from the side, and I said to Hylts (Danny Hylton), that there is real top quality.

"It’s touch, swivel, bang, any level that goes in.

"So you can see he’s got real, real quality and he’s only improving, so hopefully we can see more of that this season.”

On the game itself, manager Nathan Jones stated the hosts were nowhere near their best, but could understand the reasons why due to their lengthy period of inactivity since drawing 1-1 with Fulham on December 11.

With Town improving early in the second period to make it 2-0 through Jerome, eventually netting another two more in the final 10 minutes, on what the boss said to his players at the break, Naismith added: "We knew we were going to be a bit rusty and we never went away from that, but if we could just lift it five per cent, every player, then we could have got another goal and start to grow into the game, and I think we did that.

"Near the end, last 20 minutes we did look a bit leggy, they had chances to be fair, but we kept a clean sheet, scored four goals and just about won the game.

"It was a game we needed and credit to them they’re a good side, really well set up, they’re obviously doing really well in the league.

“They’ve got a lot of good players and are coached really well, a lot of good movements, so it was a great game for us."