Lee sparkles in his role at the tip of the diamond

Hatters attacker Elliot Lee is continuing to sparkle at the point of the diamond according to Town chief Nathan Jones.

Wednesday, 18th April 2018, 8:14 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th April 2018, 8:26 am
Elliot Lee curls in a wonderful goal against Crewe on Saturday
Elliot Lee curls in a wonderful goal against Crewe on Saturday

The former West Ham frontman has been preferred to Andrew Shinnie and Luke Gambin in that role for the last three games, returning two goals in that time.

It is something that Jones had targeted when moving the striker into his new position, saying: “I don’t think he’s played there before, as at Barnsley he was frustrated because they played him left wing.

“Now what we have is wonderful strikers and what we’ve found is we can play a way that if we get enough possession we can afford to have him as a number 10.

Elliot Lee celebrates his 12th goal of the season

“Some people as a number 10 have a real worker, a runner.

“Elliot’s not quite that, but he’s a real creative player and we need a creative player.

“Without being critical of anyone, we were lacking goals in the 10 area.

“We had it last year with Cameron (McGeehan) breaking, he’s a different type of player to Andrew Shinnie, a different type of player to Elliot Lee, but Elliot has scored two in the games he’s played.

Elliot Lee celebrates his 12th goal of the season

“It’s wonderful, and that’s what need. If we get him in enough good areas, if we get our good players in good areas then we can punish teams.”

Lee showed just how he can add goals in his last two matches, breaking away to net a lovely finish at Yeovil and then bending in a beautiful curler to make it 2-1 against Crewe on Saturday.

Jones said: “He’s in wonderful form and fair play to him, you get him in and around the box and he creates stuff.

“He’s an inventive little one and we’re delighted to have him, but he showed real, real quality.

“He had a few testers before that to get his eye in and a couple got blocked, but if you get him in that position, he’s a wonderful individual and he showed that.”

Team-mate Danny Hylton always knew that Lee was more than capable of finding the net with such an effort too, saying: “He’s a great finisher Elliot and that’s his trademark.

“When he gets the ball, comes inside on his right foot, at this level, and outside the Premier League, there’s not many better than him.

“I know it looks a great goal from outside, but he does that in training every single day, honestly, and it’s no surprise to see it go in.

“He’s such a clever footballer and when he plays up front, he drops a little bit, gets on the ball, is good on the turn, so I think that number 10 suits him perfectly.

“He can go behind, like at Yeovil last week, he’s run behind and scored and this week he’s picked the ball up in the number 10 position, turned and put the ball in the top corner.

“So he can do both, he’s growing into that position, but he’s a clever footballer so he can definitely play that position.”

Lee’s strike was his 12th of the campaign and now means that, between him, Hylton and Collins, the trio have scored 54 times for Town this term.

Jones continued: “That’s why we brought him here, we want that option, so that if and when one of them (Hylton or Collins) is not firing, then the other one is.

“Elliot’s had to be patient, but it’s his first season at the club, the first time I’ve worked with him.

“We bought Collo here because we know he gives you goals and Danny Hylton, we know what Danny Hylton is, he’s Danny Hylton.

“We lost a lot of goals in the summer, Cameron, (Jack) Marriott, (Isaac) Vassell, so we needed to replace that and we did.

“We replaced that with quality, different, but quality and Luke Berry has chipped in, Harry Cornick’s chipped in, Dan Potts has chipped in.

“So we’ve got goals from everywhere and that’s important if you want to be successful, because goals win games.”

On just why he has been an instant success in the position, Jones continued: “He’s got a low centre of gravity, he’s that type of player and that’s how he’ll make his career.

“We’re not asking him to win back post headers, not asking him to go and smash people in tackles or stuff like that, we’re asking him to be creative and do what he’s good at and he does.

“Thankfully we try to put good people in good areas or round pegs in round holes and they repay us, as he’s been wonderful.”

Although impressing, Lee was less than happy about being substituted early in the second half for Harry Cornick, but on the decision, Jones added: “The only way they were going to score was from a cross, so what we did was, we played the diamond slightly narrower, so we sacrificed Elliot.

“He wasn’t particularly happy, but we put Harry on so we’d have a little bit of protection in wide areas, but also they were just gambling, going for everything and we felt we could have scored on the counter and we should have.

“Harry should have scored, he had umpteen opportunities to pick people out as well, and normally we’ve done that. That’s all we didn’t do as we had a couple on the break that we should have made the game far, far more comfortable than it was.

“So the gameplan worked, because one, we didn’t concede, two, we did actually get chances on the counter, all we didn’t do was take them.

“He was a bit frustrated to be brought off, but it’s not about Elliot Lee or anyone else, it’s about Luton Town Football Club, my ego’s not bigger than anyone else’s here, so no-one’s should be.”