Watford winner will always stay with former Luton striker Collins

Town forward looks back at his career with the Hatters

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 7:30 am
James Collins scores the winner from the spot against Watford last season
James Collins scores the winner from the spot against Watford last season

Scoring the winner against Watford for the Hatters last season is something that will stay with former Town striker James Collins forever.

With 12 minutes remaining of the clash at Kenilworth Road back in April, the hosts were awarded a penalty when Elijah Adebayo was sent sprawling inside the area by Hornets keeper Daniel Bachmann.

The forward was then unable to continue, as Collins came off the bench to take the spot-kick, sending Bachmann the wrong way to score with his very first touch, and secure a first home victory over Town’s fiercest rivals since August 1993.

Collins, who left the club last month to join up with fellow second tier side Cardiff City, said: “That’s the moment that you want to be playing the game for, coming on and being the hero, scoring the penalty in the local derby.

“It was just a shame there was no fans in there as that would have been a really, really good afternoon, but that goal will always stay with me.

"I know what it means to the club and the fans and to the lads as well really.

"The lads really wanted to win that game for the club, so to come on and score the winner is something that will stay with me forever.”

The goal was Collins' 71st out of a final tally of 72 for the Hatters in just 183 appearances, leaving him sitting 13th in the top scorers list for the club.

Although happy with his numbers, in typical striker's fashion, Collins would have loved to have been in the top 10, continuing: "The fact I reached that in four years means I must have done well.

"I always wanted to score goals, I loved scoring goals for the club and to be in the record books, it would have been nice to break into the top 10, but that’s me just being greedy.

"To be 13th on the list is something that I’m really proud of and I’m glad that I’ve repaid the club and the fans with those goals as they’ve been great to me ever since I came.”

During Collins’ four years at Kenilworth Road he played a huge role as the Hatters rose from being a League Two side to reaching the Championship, winning the League One title along the way, and then staying up thanks to a final day win over Blackburn Rovers.

Town also went on to achieve an excellent 12th place finish last season, with their highest points tally in the second tier since the 1981-82 campaign.

On the journey, Collins added: “We’ve achieved it quicker than expected, to get back to back promotions in the first two years and then the first year of the Championship was tough, we knew that.

"Credit to everyone involved, we stayed up and I think this year we've shown we are more than capable of being a top half Championship team definitely.

“The aim for this year was to just better last year and I think we’ve probably achieved, maybe not in the gaffer’s eyes as he’s really optimistic, but maybe being realistic, we finished higher than we thought.

"We thought we could be low mid-table, but to finish in the top half of the Championship with the budget and some of the teams we finished above are obviously massive clubs, it’s a great achievement for everyone.”