Town stopper always believed a top six spot was possible for Luton this season

Keeper was eager to better last season's 12th place finish

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 12:09 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 12:12 pm
Town stopper James Shea
Town stopper James Shea

Luton’s squad always had a play-off push in the back of their mind when going into the season back in August according to keeper James Shea.

Following a campaign in which the Hatters finished 12th in the Championship, with their highest second tier points tally in almost 40 years, manager Nathan Jones strengthened in the summer, with players like Allan Campbell, Fred Onyedinma, Reece Burke and Amari’i Bell to name just four coming in.

With the added quality available, it has seen Town rise up the rankings since the turn of the year, thanks to a run of eight wins from 11, as they go into the final eight games of the season sitting fourth with a top six spot in their own hands.

Shea admitted that was the target from the start, saying: “To get in and around the play-offs and to better last season, that’s what we wanted to do, keep improving.

"When we stayed up on the last day of the season, then had a solid season last year, never really looked like going down, never looked like going up, was mid-table and now it was to improve, see where we go.

"You’re playing against teams with big history, big budgets, big stadiums, and we’re going toe-to-toe with them.

"That's what we want, we want to be doing that, we always felt like we might have a chance at the start of the season to get in and around the play-offs.

"Now we’re there, we deserve to be there and we want to stay there."

Although Town are up there as one of the teams to be shot at, with today’s opponents Millwall looking to reduce the gap to the Hatters with victory at Kenilworth Road, Shea didn’t think there should be any extra burden on the shoulders of him or his team-mates.

He continued: “No pressure on us at all.

"The pressure is on the other teams, the bigger teams, they’re the ones that technically should be in the play-offs.

"We’ll just keep turning up, game by game, see where it takes us.

"Hopefully we win more than we lose and get in those play-offs and show people what we're all about.”

The fact that Luton are doing it with fans in attendance following a year in which supporters weren’t allowed to go to matches because of Covid regulations is making it that bit more special too, as Shea added: “It’s even better as if we were sitting third last year with no fans, you don’t really feel it.

"Now you turn up to games, the Bournemouth game (3-2 win), imagine that with no fans, it would be awful.

“If there were no fans, that game probably peters out to a 2-2, so it shows you the impact of what fans are, especially at our place, it’s like a 12th man for us.”