High praise for 'outstanding' Sluga after his brilliant save in Luton's midweek Reds win
Croatian pulls off a super stop to earn another clean sheet this season
Luton keeper Simon Sluga was lauded for his performance in last night’s 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest by both defender Kal Naismith and first team coach Chris Cohen.
The Croatian made two decent stops in the first half, parrying Glenn Murray’s early header and then repelling Joe Lolley’s blast from a short free kick, also gathering Cafu’s follow up.
However, after the break, despite being not quite as busy, Sluga then really came to the fore, making a quite brilliant save from on-loan Manchester United midfielder Joe Garner’s low drive that appeared destined for the bottom corner, managing to deflect it behind for a corner.
Ryan Tunnicliffe went on to bag the only goal of the game shortly afterwards, as Sluga was relatively untroubled in the closing stages, claiming one cross confidently, until stoppage time, he came well off his line to take charge of another deep delivery into the area, punching commandingly clear to alleviate any late danger.
It was a mile away from his afternoon at the City Ground last year, when Sluga was beaten three times in a 3-1 defeat, as he kept an eighth clean sheet of the season from 29 appearances, already two more than he managed in the previous campaign.
Naismith, who was playing as one of the two centre backs alongside Matty Pearson in front of the stopper, said: “The clean sheet is a great achievement, (Glenn) Murray has scored goals in the Premier League, so to keep a clean sheet here when they’ve got quality all over the pitch is massive.
“It comes from Slugs as well, I thought he was outstanding.
"He made a few great saves, really commanded his box which helps us centre halves and then Pottsy (Dan Potts) and Clicker (Jordan Clark) massively, so he was unbelievable today.
“He made a great save (from Garner), it’s gone through Matty’s legs trying to get the block and he’s touched it wide, an unbelievable save.
“Just his speaking through the game and helping us, he was brilliant, as they never had many clear cut chances.
“We defended as a unit, Glen (Rea) in front of the back four was big as well and we defended solidly which you need to get a result here.”
First team coach Chris Cohen, who joined the club in October of last year, also spoke incredibly highly of Town's record signing, who has been in exemplary form this term, surely a firm contender for the player of the season award.
He continued: “I think Slugs has had a brilliant season.
“I know when he came last year, he took time to adapt but you look at him this season, since I’ve come in, I can only judge it on that, he’s been pretty perfect.
"He’s not made many mistakes and tonight was probably the best game I’ve seen him have.
"To come and punch towards the end of the game to stop them building any pressure, I thought, again, he was brilliant, as was the rest of the team.”
On his stand-out moment in palming Garner’s effort behind, Cohen added: “It’s one of those where all their bench started cheering before it went in and it looked for all the world that it was nestling in the bottom corner.
"You need your keeper to stand up at tough places like Nottingham Forest and he did that.
"The back four did that and second half it ended up being a comfortable evening, which at half time, if you'd have said that was going to be the case, many people wouldn't have believed us.
"But it ended up being a real positive performance all round, defensive and offensive second half.”