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23 September 2016

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Hatters boss aiming for a rise against Rovers

Hatters boss Nathan Jones is looking for a rise in level of performance from his players tomorrow when in-form Doncaster Rovers are the visitors to Kenilworth Road.

Two disappointing results on the spin, a 2-1 loss at home to Grimsby followed by last week’s 2-0 reversal at Crawley, see the Town occupying the final play-off place going into the weekend, while Rovers have jumped up to second with five wins in six games.

In the past fortnight, Darren Ferguson’s side have taken the Hatters' title as the division’s leading scorers with 17 goals from eight games, and a plus-nine goal difference.

His own team have scored 15, and asked whether he believes it will be an open game, Jones replied: “I can’t second guess that. We don’t want to be open because when we’ve chased a game, we’ve conceded late on. So I don’t really want it to be an open, open game. 

“What I do want is for us to turn up and play like we can play. I want a performance like the Wycombe game (a 4-1 win pictured above and below), and if we get that, then I’ll be happy. 

“As I’ve said in my programme notes, it’s not so much defeats at times you get disappointed with, it’s level of performance from the Grimsby game and the Crawley game. They weren’t at the same level. 

“We want a consistency of performance because we believe if we get a consistency of performance, then the results will follow.”

Like the Hatters, the Yorkshire side have aspirations of promotion to League One following their relegation last season, and Jones knows tomorrow will be potentially one of his side’s toughest of the campaign.

“They have got a lot of talent in their squad,” said Jones. “I had Andy Williams at Yeovil and he’s in good form, but they have others like James Coppinger, who are doing very well. 

“They are a bit like us really. They have goals in them, they can score in different ways and people are chipping in.

“We know we are going to have to play well. They’ve just come down from League One and they haven’t lost too many players. They’ve added some good players, and they are a good side. 

“So we know we are going to have to be right at it if we are going to win the game, and that’s what we are going to try and do.”

Impressed by the displays of Newcastle loanee Alex Gilliead (pictured above), midfielder Jake Gray and goalscorer Isaac Vassell in the Development Squad’s 4-2 midweek win at Barton Rovers, Jones was clearly delighted to have them in form with a busy week ahead.

After a month without a midweek fixture, the first team lads follow tomorrow's game with a trip to Hartlepool on Tuesday and another away day at Cheltenham next Saturday.

“The lads did very well at Barton,” said Jones. “It’s just topping people up really, and it came at a good time for people like Alex, Jake and Isaac again to get his minutes up. It was an excellent performance. A good test for our younger players.

“They are pushing for places and the competition in the squad is excellent. Jake did very well with two assists and Alex is looking more accomplished every day, so we have good options and with three games in a week, we are going to need those.”

One man who is raring to go is striker Danny Hylton (pictured above), who will continue to wear a mask to protect the cheekbone he fractured in the first half of the Grimsby game. 

The Town’s five-goal top scorer started last week’s trip to Crawley on the bench, but came on with Jack Marriott just after the hour. 

“It’s healing well,” said Jones. “It’s two weeks now since he did it, so it would have calcified. You couldn’t tell he’s done anything by the way he’s training, but we just have to be careful with him. He’ll wear it as a precaution.”

*WATCH Nathan's press conference in full on our YouTube channel by clicking here

Tickets are still available for tomorrow’s game, which kicks off at 3pm. You can buy tickets online by clicking here, or by calling the Ticket Office on 01582 416976.

Anyone travelling to the game at Kenilworth Road, please be aware that the M1 motorway will be closed from 8pm on Saturday night from Junction 9-12 northbound, and J12-11 southbound, reopening at 2pm on Sunday.

If you can’t be at Kenilworth Road, you can follow our live updates on Twitter or if you are a subscriber to Hatters Player, you can listen to Simon Pitts’ top drawer commentary.

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