Boss vows to succeed after successful pre-season
Manager Paul Buckle described himself as “hell-bent” on ensuring the Hatters achieve promotion this season following an efficient 1-0 victory over Leyton Orient in their final pre-season friendly.
Luton restricted their League 1 opponents to a handful of chances during the 90 minutes, as they kept another clean sheet following similar shutouts against Wycombe and Ipswich.
However, the impact of substitute Jon Shaw just two minutes after the break was of equal delight to the boss, as the new signing’s headed goal provided the perfect backdrop to the first game of the season proper next weekend against his former employers Gateshead.
“It was a bit more than that [a runout] today I think, it was a tough game, a step on from where we’ve left off from other games,” Buckle said afterwards. “I asked the players before the game, at 4.45 can we be ahead again on aspects of our game and I think you’ve seen it today, another clean sheet and Shaw scoring – it’s really pleasing.
“I’ve always wanted to sign Jon and he showed us today in 45 minutes what he’s all about. I think the one thing you have to do is get the ball into the box. Without giving him any targets, I think when this club had [Steve] Howard here you were able to hit him and join, the team takes great strength when you’ve got a target man like that, and Jon Shaw is going to bring that to the club.
“He got a great reception from the home fans today and he didn’t disappoint them. It was an excellent header when he’s had very little football of late.”
Buckle revealed the high quality of the players’ pre-season performances have given him a selection dilemma ahead of what he feels will be difficult game against Ian Bogie’s Tynesiders.
“It’s not going to be easy picking the team next week, I can tell you that much,” he said.
“We’ve watched Gateshead so we know all about them and we had a tough game there last year when we drew 0-0, so it’s not an easy game for Luton Town.
“We don’t get given an easy game, it’s not like that, everybody comes here to try and beat us. Everyone punches above their weight against us. It’s something we’re used to now and I’m just trying to close ranks with the players and say it’s not about any other team or what they do or try and do, it’s about what we do.”
With the practice of pre-season now just about over, the manager was keen to outline that the determination shown against the O’s was exactly what he expects from the players ahead of the forthcoming campaign.
“The players have given everything, I’ve said to them afterwards that the Luton fans expect that, and deserve that work-rate and if we do that they’ll stick with us and they’ll back us. You know it’s going to be a tough ride, the Conference is an unforgiving league, and we’re going to have to be at it in all aspects of our game.
“The fitness levels are very good. We won’t know until the season starts to see where we’re at and we have to get up to speed quickly, what I would say is that in comparison to last year we are fitter. I think the team moves better and we are lasting the games. We saw a lot of late goals last year and fitness is a major part of the game.
“I think Ronnie Henry brings something to the football club, you see the way Ronnie is in training and the way he is these games, he’s bringing Janos alongside him and all the other defenders. You need that mentality, that horrible mentality to say no every time teams come knocking.
“I’ve got out this division once and I want to do it again. I’m hell-bent on doing it. I said I’d bring in players that would die for the football club and that’s what we’ve got to do. We have to fight and scrap for every ball this season, and if we do that we’ll give ourselves a chance.”