Luton trio believe clean sheets are at the heart of Town’s rise to the summit

Town full back Jack Stacey
Town full back Jack Stacey

Clean sheets are proving key for the Hatters’ push for automatic promotion this term, according to defender Jack Stacey.

Since losing to Barnsley in October the Hatters have gone 17 league games unbeaten, with 10 shut outs in that time.

In fact, they have conceded just the nine goals during that period, as Stacey said: “A clean sheet, especially for me as a defender is massive.

“We talk about it a lot, the squad. We just have to take confidence knowing we haven’t been beaten in a while and if we play our game then we are good enough and can match at least any team in this league.”

Meanwhile, defender Matty Pearson said: “That’s what top teams have.

"If you don’t have a good defensive record, then you’re always going to be a mid-table team, or not up there.

“Having such a good record is something we take pride in and one of the reasons why we’re towards the top end.”

Since the season began back in August, Town have kept 17 clean sheets in all competitions.

The majority have come with Pearson alongside centre half partner Sonny Bradley, as interim boss Mick Harford said: “They’ve been brilliant.

“You’ve got two young full backs who have got lots of energy, they get forward as we well know and they recover into positions very well.

"We’ve got two dominant centre halves who like to head the ball and that does help.

“They like being on the front foot, like to get close to people and stop players turning and the back four has been excellent, along with the goalkeeper.

“When Glen (Rea) was fit, he was doing a marvellous job in there in terms of screening the back four and blocking things and getting interceptions.

“Macca’s (Alan McCormack) come in and done exactly the same, so we are blessed with some good defenders and it’s proven with the clean sheets.”

Town’s 17th of the season was achieved with the minimum of fuss on Saturday as hosts Southend had two shots on target, only one from Simon Cox really stretching keeper James Shea.

Stacey continued: “You can’t ask for much more.

“The first half we played a lot of football, dominated the game with the ball, second half we had to dig in and keep our clean sheet.

“It’s a great away performance and three points.

“We looked at their form and they’re very hit and miss.

“They win one and lose the next one, that was their last 10 games so we knew they’d be dangerous.

“They scored some great goals last week. We went through them and analysed it, so we knew they were dangerous on the break, but I think we dealt with their threats well and it was a great result.”

Town made a dominant start to proceedings at Roots Hall, barely giving their hosts touch of the ball in the opening 20 minutes.

It was something they had planned to do from the outset according to the full back, who added: “In their programme notes they said if they came out quickly, they thought they could cause us problems.

“So we thought, ‘okay, lets come out even quicker,’ so we did start well, we kept the ball and played it around and that set the tone for the rest of the game.

“I don’t want to give away too much, but I think we play quite well against that formation.

“We were confident and it gives (Andrew) Shinnie room to get on the ball.

“We said if we keep switching the ball and get it to our full backs, we’re going to have a lot of space and that proved to be right.”