Still hails Hatters hotshot Wall as inspired substitution pays off

Delighted Hatters chief John Still hailed striker Alex Wall’s ‘unbelievable goal’ as the Hatters fought back to oust FC Halifax Town 4-3 on Saturday, writes Mark Wood.
L13-1190  5/10/13  MBLN
LTFC v Halifax.
wk 41 MW JXL13-1190  5/10/13  MBLN
LTFC v Halifax.
wk 41 MW JX
L13-1190 5/10/13 MBLN LTFC v Halifax. wk 41 MW JX

Town fought back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 in a game that will live long in the memory for Luton fans.

Still said: “That wasn’t a goal, it was an unbelievable goal, it was a fantastic strike.

“So the day was a great day for us because we played well, I thought we had things that didn’t quite fall for us, and that’s because they took their goals well and we got punished for our mistakes, but we never let it effect us.

“We won the game and I would have thought it was a great game for the supporters to watch.”

But Wall’s fabulous 25-yard strike came as no surprise to Still who has seen him produce similar on a number of occasions.

He said: “Honest, yeah we do (know he’s capable of it). We see him do it here in training. I saw him score a free-kick at Maidnehead from about 40 yards.

“I saw him run up to strike the ball, and ,I like lots of people, looked around to where the ball was and I didn’t even see it, and I really do mean that, I didn’t even see it when he hit it.

“He’s got the hardest shot of any player we’ve ever, ever worked with. Unbelievable, he’s just got that technique. It doesn’t always go in...”

But Still admitted it almost came down to ‘a toss of a coin’ whether to go with in-form four-goal forward Mark Cullen or Wall on the bench at the weekend.

Still revealed: “Mark’s done terrific, but the staff, we spoke about it and it was a toss of a coin a bit.

“But when you’ve got a decent squad, a few of them can be a toss of the coin if it fits the situation.

“Should we play Mark Cullen? Should we play Andre Gray? Should we play Alex Lawless? Because of the way we wanted to play, should we play Jake Howells, because Howells might be a little bit fitter than Lawless?

“And we have forwards, whoever plays at the minute, scoring. But in the end we went with Alex.

“And there are a few tough decisions like that to make to be honest.

“It’s easy to say what a great decision that was. I don’t subscribe to that. You make a substitution they can come on and they can change a game and everyone goes what a great decision.

“Or you can bring someone on and you get, ‘why did they take him off?’ So I don’t really think that’s the case with substitutions, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“It did with him. I think the thing that convinced me in the end was I know that he’s champing at the bit because of the problems that he’s had.

“And I have to be honest, the person that persuaded me to put him on the bench was Terry (Harris).

“We sat there and we spoke about it. Hakan (Hayrettin) hasn’t got a clue, he said no. I wasn’t sure, Terry said I think maybe we should and because I know Hakan hasn’t got a clue I decided to lean on Terry.

“We sat there and spoke about it and we all threw it in. I was a bit in the middle, wasn’t sure. Terry felt it might be the right time. When I thought about it I thought maybe it is the right time.”

Still is a long-term admirer of former Maidenhead United striker Wall, having almost signed him when in charge of former club Dagenham & Redbridge.

“We actually had Alex in at Dagenham at the beginning of last year and he got injured, there’s a shock,” joked Still.

“And he was out for a little while and I just kept my focus on him.

“If I’d have been at Dagenham still, he’d have been at Dagenham.

“It was just a case of waiting until we could get him. And as soon as I came here, I think the day after I came here, I wanted to sign him because if I didn’t someone else would have done.”

The introduction of Wall at the weekend proved to be an inspired change by Still, but he admitted it could quite have easily not been so successful.

He said: “I’ve made substitutions and after the game I’ve thought, wrong one.

“It’s like any decision. You make a decision believing it’s the right thing to do, otherwise you wouldn’t do it.

“When it’s over you can look back and reflect and think that wasn’t the right thing to do. That’s how I see it.

“All your decisions you make, like going to the supermarket. Should I get white bread, should I get brown bread? I’ll get white bread and you get home and think ‘I should have got brown bread’.

“Do I want a piece of steak today or pork chop? I’ll have a bit of steak, but it’s a bit tough, and you think, ‘I knew I should have had the lamb chops!’

“Decisions, but sometimes you get a bit and think it’s the best steak I’ve ever had, I’m glad I had that.

“When you’re in a situation where it’s about making decisions, I only hope that every decision I make from now on until the end of the season is right.

“I’m sure it won’t be, but when you make a lot of decisions you’re never going to get them all right, but they’re right when you make them.

“I always think they’re right when you make them and it’s easy to make a decision when you’re not responsible, with the greatest of respect, like supporters.

“Because it doesn’t effect you personally. It effects the decision-maker much, much more. It’s only natural.”

And despite having been responsible for the acquisition of Wall and his subsequent development, Still took no more delight in his success than that of the whole club.

He added: “It’s amazing what you can achieve when no-one’s looking to take the credit.

“We’re a team, we all win, we all lose. If Hak does well, we all do well, if Tel does well we all do, I never look at anything personal.

“But one thing that I have to do is do well for this club. And the credit bit has never, ever been important.

“It’s nice, but the credit is for everyone, because we all win and we all lose.”