Here's what the gaffer had to say ahead of tomorrow's game
Town boss Nathan Jones can’t wait for tomorrow night’s play-off semi-final second leg against Blackpool at a packed Kenilworth Road.
All home sections of the ground are sold out and a buoyant crowd is expected to turn up with flags and in good voice to hopefully help the Hatters overturn a one-goal deficit following Sunday’s defeat at Bloomfield Road.
Jones is hoping to see the defensive mistakes that cost his side at Bloomfield Road, where they went a goal down and then 2-1 up before losing 3-2, eradicated in time for the biggest game of his 16 months in charge of the Town.
He said: “Look, they don’t usually happen. They have happened once or twice and we have to eradicate those. That was the only frustration from the other night.
“I think we gave a good account of ourselves, especially going forward. It was just defensively and especially after the interval, that’s what really cost us. But we’re well in the tie and we are really looking forward to it.”
Prior to the weekend’s game, the Town had only conceded three goals on four occasions, with only two of those coming in the league.
“It was totally out of character, to be fair since I have been here, not just since I implemented anything,” Jones continued. “We did concede a few at Wimbledon last year and obviously Portsmouth at home this year, but in terms of our defensive record, it has been outstanding. Seventeen – that’s all we have conceded away from home.
“So to concede three in a play-off game is out of character, but that’s the beauty of some of these play-off games. Anything can happen. Nerves can get to certain people and it’s how you handle them.
“They players are disappointed because they’re an honest group, they know they will have made mistakes, but that’s in the past now, we can’t do anything about that result.
“All we can do is look forward to a wonderful game tomorrow night and make sure we prepare well for it.”
The Hatters had initially sold out the home sections of the ground, before receiving an additional 260 tickets from Blackpool’s allocation, with those selling out within 45 minutes of them becoming available – something the gaffer was incredibly impressed by.
“I want it to be a big game tomorrow – it is a big game. I want to win the game, I want us to have every little edge that we possibly can.
“It’s a full house, we have sold out. We have taken most of Blackpool’s tickets as well, it’s going to be a Luton cauldron. That’s what we want. We want to make sure we handle that because it’s going to be a wonderful night.
“These are the nights where you want to be a manager, you want to be a player. Yes, we would have liked to have gone up already, but what a way to turn around a tie at home in front of nearly 10,000 of your own fans – absolutely outstanding.”
Although the Hatters are a goal down, the 43-year-old manager can see positives in the sense that his team know they must win the game outright on the night. That target is something Jones reckons will suit the positive approach his team takes into every game.
He said: “The weather is a little adverse, there’s going to be a nice slick, greasy pitch. You couldn’t ask for a better night of football. Ironically, we would like to be minimum level going into the game, but it takes away any variables for us.
“We have to win the game. We’re a positive side anyway, so praise the lord that’s not alien to us. It’s not like we are a negative side and having to go out and nick a result. We aren’t. We are a positive side. What we have got to do is make sure that we win the game.
“It doesn’t make a difference how many we win it by, we want to win the game because then minimum we take it into extra-time and that’s what we will be looking to do.
“It won’t be anything gung-ho. It won’t be stupid in trying to do anything in the first five, ten minutes trying to get everything done. It won’t be like that.
“It’s a minimum 95-minute game. We will be right up for it, we want the fans to get behind us, we want to give them an unbelievable night, because I think together, that it could be.”
Hatters Player subscribers can watch Jones’ full press conference by clicking here.