Tom Lockyer | “We’ll take positives”

Luton Town skipper Tom Lockyer said the team would take plenty of positives from their first taste of Premier League football, despite having to settle for an opening-day defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion.


“It was never going to be easy, was it, but we were well in it,” said the Wales international of Saturday’s match, in which the Town were trailing 2-1 with five minutes remaining. Two late Brighton goals then ensured a final 4-1 scoreline that was somewhat harsh on the Hatters.

“It’s a difficult one to take, but it just shows that you can’t give players at this level the chances that we did. The strikers are absolutely killing to get on the scoresheet at every opportunity they get, so you can’t give them gift-wrapped presents like that, because they will open them!”

Brighton took the lead through Solly March in the 36th minute but had to wait until the 71st minute before scoring a second from the penalty spot – after Lockyer was judged to have brought down João Pedro in the box.

“I thought the penalty was incredibly soft and I don’t know why the referee’s actually given it. It might have been the high arm but, apart from that, he was sliding into me,” said Lockyer.

“Having said that, we got a soft one at the other end so I don’t know if they cancelled each other out.”

That second penalty – awarded against Seagulls’ captain Lewis Dunk after a Ryan Giles’ cross struck his elbow – allowed Luton striker Carlton Morris to step up and calmly slot home both his and the Hatters’ first ever Premier League goal.

“It was amazing, wasn’t it, for him for him to get his first Premier League goal. We know Carlton’s strengths – he’s a fantastic player, and I think he was a bit unlucky not to get one or two more. He looked a threat all day and we’re going to need him all season, not just for his goals but also his work-rate off the ball so, yeah, really happy for him to get off the mark.”

Lockyer was also making history on Saturday, as the first man to captain the Town in a Premier League encounter. It was all the more poignant given what happened in the Championship play-off final, when the Welshman collapsed in the eighth minute and was stretchered off – before later undergoing a minor heart operation.

“It is special [to be captaining the team in the Premier League], though obviously it is a little bit soured by the result. I don’t want to think about it too much, because at the end of the day we’re here to win games as a team, and it doesn’t really matter who’s got the armband on.

“But, yeah, it was really nice to be back out there playing in front of those fans on the biggest stage, and I’m really thankful, because there was a moment at the back end of last season when I thought that might not be the case.

“The heart felt good – it was more my legs at the end!”

Lockyer and his team-mates now have nearly two weeks until their next match – away to Chelsea on Friday 25th August – and the Luton skipper believes the break from competitive action will do them good.

“There were a lot of us not knowing what the Premier League was going to be about, so now the first one’s out the way and we can move forward. If you take the sloppiness aside – because we have to learn from that – we can take a lot of positives from [the Brighton match] otherwise and a lot of belief.

“I think it’s worked out quite nicely having a bit longer now to work on a few things. I think with out fitness as well we can go to another level. You could see at the end that we were getting a bit tired and all over the shop, so this break might work in our favour and we can get a good two weeks under our belt before the Chelsea game.”

Lockyer’s final words were reserved for the 3,001 travelling Luton fans who cheered the team on for the full 90 minutes and also stood to applaud them off at the final whistle.

“You’ve seen the fans at the end; the rapport we’ve got with them is incredible,” Lockyer beamed. “We’re going to need them this year, simple as that, but they’ll be with us – I’ve no doubt about that. They’ve been incredible since I stepped through the door at this club and long may it continue.

“They know it’s not going to be an easy ride but they’re going to be with us as long as they can see us putting in 100 percent every week. And I’ve got no doubt we’ll be doing that, because that’s what this team’s built on.”

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