Boss on important trip to Field Mill
“Win, lose or draw Sunday, it's not over” was the call from Town boss Paul Buckle during his press conference this afternoon.
The Hatters boss spoke ahead of his side's tricky away fixture to Mansfield Town on Sunday with optimism and caution as Town head into the fixture on the back of an excellent recovery in midweek following back-to-back defeats.
With a second round FA Cup spot booked after Tuesday night and a solid performance the manager was in good spirits ahead of what could prove to be a tough trip as the Hatters prepare to lock horns with the Stags.
With Buckle's men heading to Mansfield with a an indifferent record against the Stags, the Hatters boss insists his team are under no illusions about this season's expectation.
“We all know the pressure our football club is under from everyone.” said Buckle.
“Team do try harder against Luton, we know all these things hence why it is hard to get out of this league. There is only pressure at the end of the season if we don't achieve what we want which is promotion, so win, lose or draw Sunday, it's not over.”
With the Hatters fortunes in recent weeks hardly favouring their points tally, the squad remain confident in their ability and the manager believes the solution to their recent struggles has been found and there will be no room for glum faces if the result does not favour the Hatters on Sunday.
“A few weeks ago we were on a terrific run and then we lose a game or two and it’s about finding out why, which we've done and moving on, which we've done,” said the Hatters boss.
“I won’t be allowing any of my players or staff to get down and miserable if we lose a game of football.”
With this season being billed as the most competitive in recent history, it is perhaps no surprise Buckle is ensuring the players’ confidence does not turn to arrogance as every side poses a threat.
“We have to be very careful that we don't think were that good that we can just roll teams over,” he said.
“There are a lot of hungry teams out there - over half of the division are ex-league clubs who want to get out like us so what we have to do is stick together and stay focused and hopefully at the end of the season look back and say, we did it.”
Buckle made his intentions clear last Sunday when he hauled in the squad for a training session after the disappointment against Dartford and has been pleased by the reaction of his players since that defeat.
“Hopefully it will be a lot happier Sunday than the last,” quipped the boss.
“We've put a lot of hard work in since Dartford and we look forward to Sunday.”
Mansfield, who started off the season with mixed fortunes, head into the game on the back of a promising patch of form which has seen the Stags taste defeat just three times in their last 10 games and lift them up to 10th in the table and Buckle was quick to defuse the talk of their early season struggle.
“I'm reluctant to talk about them in terms of struggling,” said the Hatters boss. “I don't know enough about them to be honest.
“Yes they are a big club, as we are and ideally yes they would have wanted to start the season better but the league is very tight and there is enough games to play for any team to mount a real challenge.”
With this answer Buckle then spoke of his focus on his own team rather than the opponents as they look to build on a good response in midweek. “I'd rather concentrate on my team,” he said.
“I started doing that straight after the Dartford game on Saturday and I think we got our rewards on Tuesday night, from having a real honest few days, with a good win, performance and a clean sheet.”
With both sides coming through their respective FA Cup ties victorious in midweek Buckle feels the impact it will have on their opponents is positive despite the Stags’ struggle which saw their side play 120 minutes of tireless football.
“I think they'll be a lot happier coming through on penalties rather than coming back and not being in the hat for the next round,” said the Town boss. “I don't think it will affect them no, the players are all fit and strong these days and I'm sure they've got enough players to choose from.
“I always would rather concentrate on our team and I think our performance levels and results have been good, by and large. We were very good against Hereford and the more I look at it the more unfortunate I feel we were. The players gave everything in that game but we know we were off the pace at home so we've accepted that and we move on.”
The Town will take on a Mansfield side without ever present John Dempster after he was dismissed in added time in midweek and Buckle spoke about how the Stags will deal with Dempster's absence.
“I think Dempster has been a real strength for them,” said Buckle about the Former Scotland Under-21 international defender.
“Since he's come back in they've picked up some big results and he's an experienced player so I'm sure he will be missed.”
With an unlikely reunion on the pitch happening between former Hatter George Pilkington and the side he left in the summer, Buckle was posed the question to why it hasn't worked for the former Hatters skipper at his new club where he has only made four appearances.
“I haven't had much time to focus on George or Godfrey (Poku) but they're both terrific lads, and good players. They left for a new challenge and I've not seen enough of them or Mansfield to comment but they've bought a lot of good players to the club.
“I'm sure they'll be looking to put a run together and I'm sure they'll be looking to stay in the pack because there is a pack at the top of the league, no-one's running away with it this year so it is all to play for.”