Lee confident a first senior hat-trick is coming

Town striker Elliot Lee
Town striker Elliot Lee

Luton striker Elliot Lee is confident he will score a first hat-trick at senior level after coming so close once more on Tuesday night.

The 23-year-old notched a double for the fifth time in his career during the 4-0 win over Bradford, following up another two at Gillingham on Saturday.

His other three brace have all come for the Hatters, against Wycombe in the 2014-15 campaign, and repeating the feat twice last year, against the Chairboys again, plus Cambridge United.

Lee didn't get a full 90 minutes to try and reach the milestone, substituted by manager Nathan Jones with seven minutes to go in midweek for defender Dan Potts, but had no qualms about coming off, with Harry Cornick going on to make it 4-0 in his absence, saying: “The hat-trick’s coming at some point, I don’t know when!

“It’s (being substituted) a bit frustrating but I fully respect the gaffer’s decision.

“The game was a bit dead, I only had one chance where it got cleared off the line, and I sort of knew from then it wasn’t going to be my hat-trick night.

“Fair play to the gaffer, he brought on Pottsy to shore things up, and it proved to be the right decision as we went on to score another goal.”

Jones himself admitted it had been a tough call to take off Town’s leading scorer, but felt it was the right one to make to ensure Bradford didn't get back into the game.

He said: “It is a big decision, but it is for the good of the team.

“We felt that we needed just a bit of energy late on, so it doesn’t allow them to nick a goal.

“It’s disappointing for Elliot not to get a hat-trick, but I could have left him on, they could have nicked one and it could have taken the shine off the performance.

“It’s not about any individual, it’s about a team, I don’t do it it for my own personal gratification and I try to make the right decisions that I feel are going to see the game out and we did that.

“I’m delighted, 4-0, a clean sheet, we’ve moved up a place, I’m sure Elliot will forgive me for that.

“He’s been wonderful, he’s been in fantastic, fantastic form, and he was wonderful again, as they all were.”

Lee's two goals on the night saw him up to double figures for the campaign before December, making it five in his last three game and seven in seven as well.

He continued: “I knew it was double figures tonight, so I’m really happy to reach that and hopefully there's many more to come.

“I’m really proud of that, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Although he hasn’t played much as traditional striker so far this season, boss Nathan Jones knew the former West Ham's undoubted ability in front of goal would shine through from the tip of the diamond, saying: “He’s a centre forward by trade, but we are an attacking side and we’ve used him in the number 10 role, because we think he’s very effective if you get him anywhere in and around the box.

"He’s a very, very potent threat, so we’re delighted with him.

“He’s scoring poachers goals from the number 10, arriving in that area, so we’re happy."

Lee’s first on Tuesday night came after a fine pass from Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, as he clinically found the bottom corner, saying: “Pelly played the ball in and I saw the defender coming and thought if I can just nick it around him, it worked and I just slotted it home.

"It’s a great feeling to score at Kenilworth Road and I’m happy to grab another.”

His second came from a marvellous flick by Harry Cornick which put him clean through once more.

On the pressure of being in such a position, Lee continued: “It’s just being calm and composed really, picking a way and sticking with it.

"It’s paid off, it doesn’t always pay off as I put one over the bar and the keeper’s saved the other one, but I’ll never get down for missing chances.

"I’ll always keep going and it’s been brilliant to get another two goals.”

Team-mate Cornick was happy to see his close friend becoming a regular on the scoresheet this term too, saying: "He’s done really well, he’s a great player and it’s great to play with him.

"He’s always looking for the ball in the gaps and trying to find me, 10 goals is very, very impressive, so hopefully he can get a few more and see what he can end up with at the end of the season."

Although Bradford were at the bottom of the table going into the game, the Bantams made it tough for the opening 25 minutes until James Justin opened the scoring with Lee's quickfire double putting the result beyond any real doubt by the break.

Lee added: "It was another great night at Kenilworth Road, I thought the boys were fantastic, especially first half.

"Second half was always going to be a little bit scrappier, I think it was similar against Plymouth, maybe a bit scrappier this time in the second half.

"But the damage was done in the first half, and we still won the second half anyway, so it was a great night all round.

“We saw by the way Bradford named their team, we knew they were going to put men behind the ball and try and stop us.

"It’s another way teams are trying to stop us, but it doesn’t work as at the minute, we’re that good no-one can stop us.

"The lads were brilliant, we passed the ball well, had some great movements and scored some great goals, so another fantastic night."