Woodrow knows he has to take his chances to break into Luton's Premier League XI

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Forward up and running for the season against Gillingham

Town attacker Cauley Woodrow is determined to be as ready as he can to take his chance when it comes along for the Hatters this season.

The 28-year-old started his first game of the campaign on Tuesday night when named in the side that took on League Two Gillingham in the Carabao Cup, eventually winning 3-2 to set up a third round tie with Exeter City.

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Having been on the bench in Luton’s opening two Premier League games at Brighton and Chelsea, getting a few minutes in the 4-1 defeat to the Seagulls, Woodrow gave an indication of just what he can do, with a sumptuous finish midway through the second half to restore Luton’s two goal lead and make it 3-1.

The ex-Fulham striker knows that with opportunities potentially hard to come by this term, Carlton Morris, Elijah Adebayo, Jacob Brown and Chiedozie Ogbene all vying for the forward spots, then any time he sets foot on to the field, he needs to make it count.

He said: “It’s a long season, players come in and go out with injuries and things like that, so you’ve always got to be ready.

"You never know when your opportunity is going to come, so for a few of us it’s our first real minutes this season.

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"It was really positive for us to get through the game and get some good minutes.

​Cauley Woodrow fires home his first goal of the season against Gillingham on Tuesday night - pic: Liam Smith​Cauley Woodrow fires home his first goal of the season against Gillingham on Tuesday night - pic: Liam Smith
​Cauley Woodrow fires home his first goal of the season against Gillingham on Tuesday night - pic: Liam Smith

"You’ve got to be ready and thankfully we did well to be ready for whenever that chance comes.

"For me personally to play and to get a goal, I’m delighted.”

The goal itself was a wonderful strike too, as a poor header out from the visiting defence was instantly seized on by Woodrow, who looked up and then first time, powered his effort over the back-pedalling Glenn Morris and into the net.

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Discussing his fourth goal since returning to Kenilworth Road in the summer of 2022, he continued: “A few minutes before the defender missed that one in the box, it just clipped his shin and just when past me, I thought ‘oh no, is that my chance gone?’

"But when it fell to me edge of the box, I realised I had to calm down, take it into my stride and hit it well and it flew in, so I’m really, really happy.”

Boss Rob Edwards, who awarded Woodrow a new contract in the summer, was happy to see him up and running for the campaign, especially with Luton having scored just once in their opening two league games, that being a penalty from Morris.

He said: “Cauley’s got that in the locker, he can score fantastic goals and it was important for him as well.

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"He’s another one who gives everything, works really hard and for any forward, you want them to be amongst the goals.

"That’s good, Carlton’s got one now early in the season, Jacob and Cauley, which is great.

"It’s the hardest thing, especially in the Premier League, to score a goal, so the more people we've got confident it helps us.”

Although it wasn’t a stellar performance from Woodrow and his team-mates on the night, as they let a dominant first half performance slip, with a nervy second 45 minutes meaning they only just edged out their fourth tier opponents, the main thing was they went through against an opposition who had already knocked Championship side Southampton out in the first round.

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The goalscorer was eager to stress the importance of getting a first victory of the season going into tomorrow’s top flight fixture with West Ham United at a revamped Kenilworth Road, adding: “The message from the gaffer was just to win.

"We need to make this is our fortress this season, get some momentum going for Friday and get off with a win in front of our home fans in the first home game of the season.

“These games are always really hard and believe it or not when you play a team in a lower league, probably from the outside people you think you should steamroller them five or six nil, but it’s never like that.

"Gillingham are a good team, they've got some good players, we made it hard for ourselves towards the end, but we managed to see the game out.

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"It was just about winning and we won, that was the main thing.

"For sure, we’ve got to as a team to defend better and not concede goals, but it’s about winning.

"Three good goals, good performance, home win in front of our home fans and hopefully some good momentum going into Friday.”