Luton boss believes players are 'healed' after Bluebirds defeat
Town chief Graeme Jones insists his players have healed mentally from the disappointment of Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Cardiff City, as they return to Kenilworth Road for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday this evening.
The Hatters saw their encouraging first half performance fail to transform into a much-needed three points after a poor display in the second period, Lee Tomlin’s goal giving the Bluebirds victory with 17 minutes to go.
Town’s team looked thoroughly dispirited as they trudged off, with the result dropping them nine points adrift of safety at the bottom, a gap that was widened to double figures, after Charlton picked up a shock win at title-chasing Nottingham Forest last night.
However, Jones believes his players are in a good place going into what is now a must-win game against the Owls, saying: “They’re fine. We obviously don’t want to lose football matches, but from a mental point of view, they’ve recovered, they’ve healed, they’re ready to go again.
“It’s tough for everybody, you’re talking about the staff, the staff work their backside off, and then don’t get rewarded.
“The players have worked their backside off on Saturday and don’t get rewarded, but you have to assess performance and the performance was good enough to win the football match.
“I felt that on Saturday, subjectively, objectively it was absolutely.
“Everything was enough in that performance to win and we didn’t.
“It’s a three game week, we are experienced now with these three game weeks in the Championship.
“You need to be mentally and physically fresh for every single game, as a priority, not carrying any baggage physically or mentally, because we’ve seen what happened the last one we had in November (losing 7-0 at Brentford).
“These boys will dust themselves down and have a right go again.
“Against Birmingham, it was the first time I felt a confidence issue, I didn't feel that, Cardiff are a difficult team to play against.
“They play for long balls, they play for second balls, they play for set-pieces.
“What did they do? You tell me what they did in the game? One shot and it’s in the back of the net and that’s the frustration, because you have to believe you can see through those periods.
“I watched Preston do it against Wigan, that’s how you get football results and obviously taking your opportunities when they come your way makes it a lot easier.”
Jones admitted he has had words with the squad about just why they suffered a 21st defeat from 31 games in the Championship on Saturday, in particular why they failed to get going after the break and an inability to test opposing keeper Alex Smithies until George Moncur’s shot in stoppage time.
Harry Cornick and Ryan Tunnicliffe both missed chances, with James Collins also heading off target, as the boss added: "I’ve spoken to them about why and asked them for the same level and try to have an understanding, in certain periods of the game, what we have to do better.
“Certainly 60 minute mark and how we’re going to do it.
"Then chances come your way, a bit like where we were against Barnsley early in the season, make sure you score, don’t hope you score, make sure you score.
“We’re talking about 10 yards out, you have to score the goal if you’re going to win the game.
“The margins were so small at the weekend, but we have to turn those margins our way and hopefully it will start tomorrow night.”