Still hails his resilient Hatters

John Still
John Still

Hatters boss John Still hailed his side’s resilience as they dug in for a first home win of the season against Cheltenham yesterday.

Mark Cullen’s goal on eight minutes proved enough, but Town were under the cosh for long periods of the second half, with keeper Mark Tyler making a number of excellent saves.

Still said: “They’ve pushed people on, got lots of balls in our box and I thought we defended it really well.

“The thing that we had was that resilience which I think was vital.

“We had to have it last year, maybe not that much, but certainly had to have it in places like Macclesfield and here against Lincoln and here against Halifax and they’re all parts of it.

“If you can that and it’s in your team, it can get you over difficult times.

“Tyles has done well without making a save you would go fantastic save, he’s saved whats come at him.

“But we’ve played some great football here this season, against Wimbledon and Plymouth and got nothing from it.

“But if you keep doing that and the other things are in your team, then eventually it turns for you, it did last year and it will this year.”

Still gave a debut to defender Curtley Williams, while striker Ross Lafayette had his first start and midfielder Jonathan Smith began a match for the first time since Boxing Day as the boss revealed his decision making behind the choices.

He continued: “We had no-one on the right hand side at all, (Paul) Connolly’s not fit, Alex Lawless who played a bit last week is still not right, Shaun Whalley isn’t right.

“We knew they would play three centre halves and we thought we could simplify the game for Curt and make it a one on one game, wingback against wingback, without having to be in the thick of the action and he did fantastic.

“Obviously he’s run out of a bit of petrol at the end, but he’s done fantastic, and we really like him and rate him highly.

“Smudge played in the reserves midweek and we felt he was ready. He’s been able to train without being able to get around tackling people, so we know what he could do and we ended up going with what was a big part of our success last year, Pelly and Smudge and Gutts (Luke Guttridge).

“We played with two forwards, so Ross came in and he hasn’t had a lot of football so ran out of a bit of petrol towards the end and did a good job.

“We felt reasonably comfortable with our team, although it probably isn’t exactly what we would have picked.

“You want to play players, but you don’t want to play players who aren’t ready.

“Sometimes people don’t perform as they’re not right, so you just have to decide what’s in the best interest long term as well as the results short term and maybe we got that right.”

The result could have been put beyond doubt had Jim Stevenson’s second half goal been allowed to stand, as Still added: “If Jim’s goal counts it’s a difference. The amazing thing was he never gave it at first and seemed to put his flag up when everyone was running away.

“Until I see it, it’s very difficult, I don’t have a clue, but the referee was running away and then the flag went up.”

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