Jones felt Forest defeat was a turning point for Luton ahead of Rams victory

Although beaten 3-1 at Nottingham Forest over a week ago, Hatters boss Graeme Jones felt the performance he saw at the City Ground on that day could be the turning point in the club’s season.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 10:06 am
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 10:07 am
Hatters boss Graeme Jones
Hatters boss Graeme Jones

Against a side looking to feature in the promotion shake-up this term, Harry Cornick put the visitors in front midway through the first period with a well-worked goal, before the hosts levelled by half time.

Two goals in the second period saw Forest prevail, although the third was in stoppage time, but Hatters then continued the confidence gained from the performance, and a welcome break with no weekend game, into Tuesday night’s clash with Derby County at Kenilworth Road, coming out on top 3-2 to breathe life into their survival bid.

Jones said: “The mental step I saw last week at Nottingham Forest.

“We started the game believing we could win it, and we played our role, we knew how to manage the crowd, we knew how to take the sting out of the game, we knew how to make it difficult for Nottingham Forest.

“I’ve seen that, in a 3-1 defeat. People say 'it’s just a result,' well there was a performance there last week and we’ve built on that performance with another performance, but this time we’ve got a result.

“There’s a point where you have to turn that into results and we did.

“I think Nottingham Forest was a turning point, we felt it in the camp.

“I said to the boys afterwards, it was the first time I felt coming to a ground away from home, big club, where you think we can win.

“Now if anybody else had been in the dressing room they’d have probably thought, ‘is he for real this guy?’

“They’ve just been beaten 3-1 again, but I know as I stand there and I feel the strengths and I feel the fight and I feel the vulnerability of the players.

“The last two performances were absolutely acceptable after the first 30 minutes against Birmingham, which wasn’t.

“No matter what happens you have to be yourself out on that football pitch and that’s where we’ve learned lessons.”

What was vital for Jones during the midweek win over the Rams, courtesy of Jayden Bogle's late ow goal, was that the players demonstrated their desire to make sure they remain a Championship side this season.

He continued: "It was one of those nights where we gave the lads the parameters and the understanding of what Derby were.

"They’re a possession side, they play from the back and they rotate in midfield, use false full backs and (Wayne) Rooney’s a 10 in between.

"But after that, it was about us and it had to come from the players, because nowadays, sometimes it’s too coach-led.

"The players’ desire and the players' understanding and application of what we asked them to do, the players' won the game and it has to come from within.

"There is a unit there and a bond there and we’ve been tested beyond belief.

"We've kept it in there and we’ve kept it real, we’ve kept standards high, that’s the biggest challenge from the outside."

Although Town came against a Rams side that featured England and Manchester United's record goalscorer in Wayne Rooney, Jones had urged his players to not pay any attention the star attraction.

He added: "The only thing I’ve asked from minute one is have no respect, it’s still me against you on a football pitch, and it doesn’t matter what the name is on your back.

"I think we’ve finally turned that corner last week.

"We went to the City Ground, two times European Cup winners and performed, we were ourselves, we weren’t frightened of the opposition.

"Whether it was Rooney or Chris Martin coming on, or Jack Marriott, it was irrelevant, we were going to get a result no matter what."