Ex-Hatter Forbes insists Luton have a 'great opportunity' to beat Swansea

Luton have a ‘great opportunity’ to make it three successive home wins in the Championship for the first time in their history when they face Swansea City on Saturday.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 10:37 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 10:38 am
Adrian Forbes in action for the Hatters
Adrian Forbes in action for the Hatters

That’s the view of former Hatters and Swans winger Adrian Forbes, who made his return to Kenilworth Road in the summer, named head of academy coaching and professional player development.

Forbes played 79 times for Luton between 2001-2004, scoring 19 goals, before moving to what was then Vetch Field, in June 2004.

He went on to make over 80 appearances, scoring 12 goals for the Swans, but now back with the Hatters, he wants to see Graeme Jones’s side pick up three precious points in their quest for Champions survival.

Speaking to the Luton News, he said: “You look at the start Swansea had,everyone was looking at them as potential or almost easy league winners at the start of the season.

“They have dropped off a little bit, so that linked with Luton’s home form, you look at that and go, it is going to be a tough game as every game is in the Championship, but for me, certainly at Kenilworth Road with how performances have been and how the fans have been, it’s a great opportunity for three points in my opinion for Luton.

“I’ve been to quite a few of the home games and I would say actual results don’t match the performances.

“If you look at the Leeds game, Leeds for me are the best team I’ve seen in the Championship so far this year.

“Their movement, their rotation will be difficult for anyone to handle and deal with, but we did that up until the 92nd minute.

“If you look at the Charlton performance, another positive performance, and you can reel off the positive performances, it’s just that little bit of extra luck that at the moment seems to be missing.

“One thing you can say with the fans at Kenilworth Road, they have stuck behind the manager, stuck behind the players and they’re definitely going to need that going into Swansea.

“Everyone says, that old adage about the fans being the 12th man, but that’s the reality.

“We are going to need them for the remainder of this season and beyond.

“They’ve been superb in the last few years and equally now they can’t be any different.

“They can’t get to a situation where it’s a few losses and they start turning against us.

“Everyone needs to gel, everyone needs to stick together and that can make the difference, certainly going into the Christmas period, which is, in any league, a really, really important period of the season.

"It’s going to be really interesting for me, two of my old teams, playing against each other, as it was in pre-season when Norwich came to Kenilworth Road as well.

"So it's going to be a good day for me personally, but ultimately I’m watching the game and I'm looking forward to a good performance first and foremost and hopefully three points for Luton Town as well."

At the start of the season, the Swans looked like good bets for a return to the Premier League, having won five of their first six league games under new manager Steve Cooper, who had previously been in charge of the England U17s.

However, they have dropped off badly, going six without a win recently, thumped 5-1 at leaders West Bromwich Albion, and despite beating Middlesbrough last time out, trail the Baggies by 15 points already.

Forbes said: “That is, I don’t want to use the words, the beauty of the Championship, but that is Championship football for you.

“Literally anyone can beat anyone, you look at Swansea, the players they’ve got, the manager they brought in, and the start they had, people would have been looking at them as promotion contenders, but they have fallen off.

“They’ll be looking at this game as a potential opportunity to get a run going again so they can look to get back closer to the top of the table, but from my point of view, it’s down to Luton to spoil their party to a certain extent.

“They’re on our patch, they’re at Kenilworth Road and it’s important that we go and take our game and our performance to Swansea and make it very, very difficult for them to get anything out of the game.

“If you go back to how the Luton team bounced back from the Brentford game, that’s the sort of performance they’re going to need to put in this weekend.

“Without a shadow of a doubt there are the players there, the quality is there to do it, because the boys have shown that in recent weeks that they do have the quality to survive in this league and hold their own.

“It’s making sure that is done consistently and hopefully against Swansea, an early goal might settle the nerves of everyone a little bit.

“That might make a difference, create opportunities, take opportunities and that is what we need to do.”

Forbes has been on the scoresheet for the Hatters against the Swans at Kenilworth Road before, netting the third in a 3-0 victory back in October 2001, the last time Town defeated their Welsh opponents on home soil.

He added: “I remember that goal and being surprised that even though I was five foot six, that I was left in a situation where I could get a header in and around the six yard box.

“It was Jean-Louis Valois back to Matty Spring, Matty Spring then crosses it in for me to head it in, as you can quite clearly see it was straight off the training ground!”

That was one of five goals that season for Forbes, who had joined in the summer from his boyhood club Norwich City, as the Hatters won promotion from Division Three, finishing in second place.

He said: “From a playing point of view, I left Norwich and came to Luton which was a tough one at the time.

"I’d been at the club since I was 11 years old, I'd played 130 odd games before I left and the decision was made for me to join Luton Town.

"It certainly wasn’t a decision I regret, I came in and despite having quite a serious injury and missing most of my second season through injury, I still don’t regret my time, or that decision to move to the club.

"The one thing I gauged was what a wonderful club it was, and what a wonderful club it could be, the history and stature of the club, where potentially one day it could get to.

"I was fortunate enough to be in the team that got promoted, and there were some very, very good players that I was in that squad with, the likes of Kevin Nicholls, Steve Howard, Jean-Louis Valois, the list is endless."

Forbes missed most of his second season with injury, but returned during the 03-04 campaign to find himself push upfront during a number of games, as he responded with 14 goals in 32 appearances.

He said: "I had some great times and even that was a surreal situation as Mike Newell and Brian Stein, the management staff there, Mike Newell was almost like, 'we want a little and large up front, Steve Howard and myself.'

"Then Newelly stuck me upfront, and next thing I know, there I am getting on the end of Steve Howard's flick-ons and getting one goal, getting two, getting three, the goals continued to flow.

"It wasn’t necessarily a position that I played in regularly as I was an out and out winger predominantly, but playing upfront was something I quite enjoyed.

"For someone so small, I was actually quite good in the air, so I was able to hold the ball up, was able to win my fair share of headers, so it came quite naturally to me.

"My only disappointment was I had the opportunity to score two FA Cup hat-tricks and then I missed a penalty against Bradford away that would have got me that.

"But there were really, really fond memories and like I say, the key thing for me from a memories point of view was the people that I was in the dressing room with at the time.

"As despite the issues that were going on off the pitch with the club, that ultimately we as players couldn’t do anything about, it almost brought a better unity with the squad and the staff.

"Ultimately, it was that later on that made everyone gel, despite the fact I'd moved on, and it led to more and more success before they fell back down the leagues.

"So there were some real good memories of my time at the club and for me to leave Norwich, a club I'd been at for so long, it was a real pleasure and an honour to end up coming to Luton where I could continue my development, continue to improve.

"I'm glad to have this club as part of my footballing journey from a player's point of new and now proud to have it as part of my journey from a coaching point of view as well."

Forbes did eventually move on from Kenilworth Road, heading to Swansea in June 2004, where he created some more excellent memories, adding: "Ultimately had the club not been in financial problems at the time with administration, I would have had no reason to leave the club and going on to Swansea, but the rest is history.

"I had some very, very good times, it was a wrench to leave Luton, but at the time I was left with no choice in reality because of the administration.

"I ended up all the way down the M4 in Swansea and thought, 'how is this all going to pan out?' But I played lots of games, again played with some fantastic players who are now good managers, Sam Ricketts at Shrewsbury, Garry Monk at Sheffield Wednesday, Roberto Martinez (Belgium chief), and built some great memories.

"Scoring the very last goal at the Vetch past Joe Hart was a big memory for me and then scoring again the week after, after seven seconds against Bury away to clinch promotion from League Two.

"Winning the LDV Vans Trophy at the Millennium Stadium as well, so I’ve been really lucky with my journey and career that the majority of clubs I’ve been to successes has followed."