Pilkington believes Luton can aim for the top six after witnessing Barnsley's charge up the Championship last season

Goalkeeper coach insists play-offs are a realistic ambition

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 19th November 2021, 11:23 am
Updated Friday, 19th November 2021, 11:24 am
Kevin Pilkington in the dug-out at Kenilworth Road during the 1-0 defeat against Stoke City
Kevin Pilkington in the dug-out at Kenilworth Road during the 1-0 defeat against Stoke City

New Luton goalkeeper coach Kevin Pilkington doesn’t see any reason why the Hatters can’t emulate his former side Barnsley and make a genuine push for the Championship play-offs this season.

With 17 games of the campaign now gone, Town find themselves sitting in 11th position, just two points adrift of the top six, and they could be in one of the berths following tonight’s trip to QPR, who occupy the final place.

Pilkington spent the last two seasons on the backroom staff at Oakwell where he witnessed the Tykes finish fifth last term, against all the odds, before being knocked out in the two-legged semi-final by Swansea City.

With Nathan Jones and a number of the Town players publicly stating that is their aim this year, Pilkington insists it’s a realistic goal to have, saying: “Definitely. Once you get that belief and everyone’s pulling in the same direction, there’s no reason why you can’t do it.

“Once you get on that run, it’s about putting back-to-back wins together and you never know what can happen.

“There’s been a lot of shocks over the last few years in football, so there’s no reason why it can’t happen to us this season.

“We’re all pulling in the same direction, the lads want to achieve, so do the staff.”

Pilkington got his first look at the Town side up close during the 1-0 defeat to Stoke ahead of the international break, a match he felt could have gone either way, continuing: “It was a good goal from their point of view, a really good quality ball into the box and Jacob Brown finished it well, but we can learn from that as well and defend that better.

“That’s how close the Championship is and on any day anyone can beat anyone.

“It’s about being consistent in performances and results and if you do that you’ve got a really good chance.”

With Town following this evening's trip to QPR with another away contest at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, Pilkington thinks the Hatters have every chance of adding to their points haul.

He said: “They’re the games we want to be involved with.

“QPR play some really good football and I’ve always enjoyed playing there.

“Forest, it’s a fantastic football club, with a great history, but they’re games that we can go and get some points from.”

Meanwhile, the former Manchester United youngster, who played 33 times for Town when the Hatters were in the Conference, has rejoined a club that have one of the best clean sheet records in the division, with seven shut-outs so far this term.

Pilkington is looking to continue that defensive solidity during his time as coach, as he knows it will do wonders for their chances of finishing in the top six.

He added: “As goalkeepers, back four or five, it’s all about your record at that end of the pitch in keeping clean sheets.

“If you can get to 15 or 16 clean sheets, then you’ve got a real chance of being at the right end of the table, come the end of the season.

"We’ve got seven so far, so if we can build on that you never know where it can take you.

“I was lucky last year to be with Barnsley and you look where they got to last season, so there’s no reason why we can’t do it at Luton."