Boss keeping feet on the ground following friendly winHatters’ manager John Still was pleased with the workout his squad got in Saturday’s victory over Royal Antwerp – but refused to get carried away by the impressive scoreline.
The Town boss watched his side knock in four goals without reply on a baking afternoon in Bedfordshire and praised his team for adapting to the conditions.
“It’s incredibly hot, isn’t it?”, Still admitted. “We were going to play two teams knowing that the second team would find it a bit harder, because it’s so warm, to get to the pace of the game. I thought for 20 minutes in the second half we never quite got there, but gradually we did. What was pleasing was that we worked on organisation - lots of foreign teams they want to play slow, build from the back. I thought we defended terrific.”
“I’m really pleased defensively and when we had to attack, we’ve attacked well. I’m glad Ross scored, he took his goal well, Alex took his goal well and restarts are important, we’ve scored from two restarts. So it was a good day but just a step on the way.”
Understandably Hatters’ fans lapped up the goal-fest – but the gaffer was keen to put things in perspective.
“We won last year against Arsenal by seven, beat Villa and then lost 1-0 first game of the season.”
“Of course it’s pleasing but I don’t get carried away with this sort of thing.”
However, Still certainly believes things are coming together and suggested that he is already happy he has the players at his disposal for a crack at League 2 – a squad with some experienced heads with a plethora of exciting young talent.
“I might bring in one more young one, a young wide man, a Ricky Miller, a Mark Onyemah, just a young one we can work with and try and improve but outside of that I don’t really see the need to do much else.
“If you look at the group we’ve brought in there’s quite a few younger ones there. I do enjoy having young, hungry ambitious players in and working with them and trying to improve them because there’s a lot of satisfaction in making a cake, perhaps a touch more than buying a cake.”
Alex Lacey deputised in a holding role in the second half and the manager had some positive news from the treatment table on his missing midfield men.
“It was an ideal opportunity today [to play Lacey in midfield] because we had Jim Stevenson, Luke Guttridge and Jonathan Smith not ready to play - but they will be ready, probably next week. Tuesday or Saturday I think, we’ll probably see them in those games.”
The boss also had a special mention for the 802 supporters who backed Royal Antwerp with such fervour over the course of the ninety minutes.
"Unbelievable!” exclaimed Still. “I thought their supporters were magnificent and that’s why our players went over. I thought that was magnificent, I really did and they made it quite a special occasion for people. I really enjoyed it, I enjoyed the atmosphere, I enjoyed the game. It wasn’t like a pre-season friendly - it was like a proper game wasn’t it?”