Jones puts the pressure on ahead of Crawley clash

Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Hatters boss Nathan Jones is putting the pressure on his side to finally mount the push for automatic promotion he has spoken about this season.

With 17 games to go, Luton find themselves six points adrift of the top three, with little or no realistic chance of catching current leaders Doncaster Rovers, who have a 16 point buffer.

It sets us up for an important week and some home games that we need to take maximum points from.

Nathan Jones

Second-placed Plymouth remain in sight, just, 11 points ahead, after Luton wasted the chance to make inroads by losing at home to Cheltenham last week and then missing a late penalty to draw 1-1 at Grimsby on Saturday.

Ahead of two home matches against Crawley Town and Hartlepool on Saturday and Tuesday, Jones said: “It’s really, really important now and we need to not miss opportunities as we can’t really miss too many more opportunities.

“We’re in decent form in terms of where we are, others have dropped points, others have won, so it’s not unbridgeable the gap.

“But we keep missing opportunities. Today (Saturday) would have been a great opportunity. Tuesday night was a great, great opportunity, and it’s an onus now, I’m going to put pressure on them.

“We can’t miss opportunities because it’s too important and it’s a real, real vital point of the season.

“It sets us up nicely as it’s important not to lose, it really was, because we don’t like losing back to back games, we don’t often do that.

“But it’s a missed opportunity with the penalty.

“You look at Exeter, they’ve won 4-0, and they’re taking opportunities. Now that’s what we’ve got to do as I don’t want to fall behind, because we should be on the front foot.

“It sets us up for an important week and some home games that we need to take maximum points from.”

Jones was less than satisfied with how his side started proceedings at Blundell Park on Saturday and that it took them until Chris Clements headed the hosts in front on the hour mark to have any kind of momentum.

He continued: “That’s what’s disappointing as we had to wait until we got sucker punched to really start going.

“Once we did get going, we showed what a good side we are, but we can’t keep doing that as others around us are not waiting to get sucker punched and then react, they’re taking opportunities.

“We say how good we are, now we’ve got to prove that.

“I thought we were excellent for the last 30-35 minutes of the game, but bang, bang average up until then.

“We showed a lot of character to come back, but we’re a good side.”

Although Saturday saw the points gap wide once more to automatic promotion, Jones knows they can’t start focusing on sides ahead of them.

He added: “We’ve got to play them (top three) and we’ve got two home games now. We can’t look what Carlisle are doing, or Plymouth, or Doncaster, or anyone above us. What we have to do is make sure we concentrate on what we do. If we had defended counter attacks better the other day, we wouldn’t have had a problem.

“If we had scored a 95th minute penalty, again we wouldn’t have had a problem, and we’d have been looking at a different scenario.

“But we’ve got to eradicate these little things that are costing us games as time will eventually run out.”

Striker Danny Hylton was in full agreement with his manager too, adding: “It’s consistency, the gaffer said, and I think he was spot on, that every time there’s that game that we can put pressure on the teams above us and around us, we lose it.

“That Cheltenham game was a real chance to really put a mark down, go one point behind the top three and say, ‘we’re here, let’s have a go’, but it wasn’t to be.

“It doesn’t mean we’re out of it at six points (behind). There’s still 17 or 18 games to go, more than enough points to play for and we’ve got to play the big boys as well.

“I still very much fancy us to get in the top three so, yeah, we’ve just got to be a little bit more consistent and a little bit nasty maybe.

“They’re going to be tough games. The likes of Donny, Plymouth are flying but if you want to get promoted they’re the game that you have to do well in.

“We’ll do our best to do that. We’ve done well against the top teams this season, it’s the games we should win that we don’t win.

“No disrespect to Cheltenham and teams like that but we slip up a little bit. We could lose against Donny and Plymouth but there are 18 games to go and there will be 16 games other than them and we’ve got to make sure that we win more than we don’t.”