With the domestic season starting to heat up Paul Buckle looks ahead to his side's first of a double clash with Dorchester
After last Sunday's draw away at Mansfield the Hatters will again board the coach as they look to get their FA Trophy campaign up and running.
With the main focus on promotion from the Blue Square Bet Premier this season, many consider the FA Trophy a side dish to what is ultimately the main meal, however, Buckle insists it is a competition his side will be taking with the utmost competition to ensure they progress.
“I'm okay with the Trophy,” said the Hatters boss who guided Torquay to the 2008 final against Ebbsfleet.
“I was fully aware at the start of the season that the Trophy would play a part in our season and we will take it very seriously and try to go through.”
With a tough spell coming up for the Hatters and a congested fixture list heading the billing for a tricky Christmas spell, Buckle was adamant they would attempt to kill the tie off from the outset to avoid a replay.
“A replay is the last thing I want,” said the manager. “We don't want a replay. Both teams will try and win it on the day and we'll certainly go into the game looking to win it but neither of us will want a reply. If it happens you just have to deal with it and get on with it.”
In recent years the Hatters have made strong progress in the FA Trophy twice falling at the Semi-Final stage, but Buckle, a finalist with Torquay himself, will encourage his side that it is anything but a distraction from the league objective.
“Emotion has run high in the past few season whilst the club has tried to get back in the football league so obviously this competition wasn't at the front of everyone's minds,” said Buckle. “But this is the next fixture and its one after two good away performances from the chaps. It’s a game we’re looking forward to and it’s a good opportunity to go forward and do better than we have previously.”
Buckle also insists that winning games of football is of vital importance and that the Trophy is not a competition that will be taken lightly by himself or his player.
“Every game is important to me,” said the Hatters chief. “When you lose a game of football as a manager it’s not a nice feeling, and when you win a game off football it’s a great feeling so I'm not going to kid myself that if we were to be beaten it would be okay because it wouldn't be okay.
“They're all important. The FA Cup brings money in and that will be vital when it comes round much like the league games are they're all very important and every time the boys put on a Luton shirt and I lead the team we want to win.”
A lot of other teams use the Trophy to rest key first team players to ensure their fitness is up for a combative period in the league.
But this can backfire, however, and Buckle has outlined his stance on team selection by enforcing that team cohesion is key.
“Continuity is something you look for and good understanding from the team playing the same level every week normally brings success so I don’t want to change to much at all,” he said.
“There may be a few enforced changes in areas because of knocks from Sunday's game but it will be business as usual in terms of if anyone's doubtful they won't play. We've got some really good players at the club and I trust all of them, if there are one or two struggling they won’t be risked”.
Dorchester Town will double up on the Hatters fixture card as they booked not only a Trophy clash with the Hatters but a trip to visit Kenilworth Road just a week after in the FA Cup second round proper.
And the manager spoke of his caution towards a side that have already claimed one cup giant killing so far this season, with Plymouth Argyle falling to Phil Simkin's side already this campaign.
“They've proved already they can beat higher opposition by knocking a league two side out in the FA Cup already,” said Buckle.
“I'm sure they'll fancy their chances against us, but by the looks of the weather the conditions are changing now it’s becoming a bit grim and a bit tough, but my players are ready for that.
“We've got a good group of players, a real honest bunch and in those winter months you’re going to need that.”
With the weather wreaking havoc across large parts of the country the condition of the pitch will no doubt play its part but with a blossoming run away from home Buckle is convinced his side have enough to progress.
“We're hopeful to get the game on and if it goes ahead it will be a good game,” continued the manager. “Both sides will be looking to win and because there in a confident mood at the moment they will probably come at us but our away record has been very good this season.”
Magpies manager Simkin has added to his squad to bolster his options ahead of a Hatters double bill and the Town boss is aware of their potential and will take nothing for granted.
“I understand they've added to their squad with some new faces,” said Buckle upon the news of Dan Thompson, George Coulson and Richard Logan's arrival at the Avenue Stadium this week.
“They're in a good place at the moment and good luck to them. We are too, I'm very pleased with how it’s gone so far, the boys’ attitude, and how they've trained so far this week has been superb so we're in a really good place ourselves. It's got all the makings of a really good game.”
Heavy conditions are expected in the South following rainfall across large parts of the country, but Buckle is confident that the combative style required to tackle the conditions will favour the home side.
“When you play against a team from a lower division they will go in looking for a fight and a scrap and try and test you wherever possible,” he said. “But I have every faith with the group of players I have at Luton that they can cope with that. We're not just a team who can only play in good conditions, we have the ability to cope and battle as well as play some good football when needed.”