Luton striker Collins never had any doubt he was going to be an instant hero

Town forward discusses match-winning penalty

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 4:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 8:22 pm
James Collins scores from the penalty spot against Watford
James Collins scores from the penalty spot against Watford

Luton striker James Collins never had any doubt he was going to score from the spot and net the winner against Watford this afternoon despite it being his very first touch.

With 15 minutes remaining, team-mate Elijah Adebayo was clattered by Hornets keeper Daniel Bachmann when reacting quickest to a backpass for an obvious spot-kick.

The recent signing, who took Luton’s last penalty, was in no fit state to continue after being cleaned out, which saw Collins off the bench to confidently net his 12th of the season with what proved to be the winner.

Speaking afterwards, Collins said: “It was a strange situation, but I knew as soon as the penalty was given and the shout was Elijah might not be able to carry on, I knew I would have a chance of coming on and taking it.

“The gaffer asked me if I wanted to take it and of course I said yes, so fortunately for me today, I managed to get the headlines, but I think I shouldn’t get any credit for today really, because all the hard work was done before I came on the pitch.

“I think all the lads were absolutely outstanding today and by far the better team.”

When asked if he had any caution approaching the penalty due to the level of importance and his lack of action in the game up until that point, Collins continued: “Not really, a penalty is a penalty.

“Don’t get me wrong, I was a little bit nervous, but that’s what I thrive on, that’s what I enjoy.

“Anyone that takes penalties whether it be first touch or in the 90th minute and you've been playing for the whole game, it’s always nerve-wracking, but I knew I wanted to take it.

“I knew I’d score, so I was just happy that the opportunity arose for me to put it in the net.”

Collins was faced with Watford keeper Bachmann rather than the experienced Ben Foster, and was confident that he would win the battle of the mind games.

He said: “I practice every week and I get stuff sent to me that I look at for goalkeepers, so I always knew where I was going to go and I knew where he’d think I’d go, so just glad that it all worked out well.

“You want any advantage you can and the backroom staff are excellent here, they feed you with a lot of information and there’s not many things you don't know about an opposition in football these days.

“Any football club, all the leagues will have that information, so to have that information helps and I knew where I was going to go.

“I was surprised Ben Foster wasn't playing today, he’s done very well and he’s a great goalkeeper, but thankfully he managed to go the wrong way.

“I always believe every time I go on the football pitch I’ll score, whether I start or whether I come on, I've always been that way.

“So to get that opportunity, I knew what I needed to do, I had in my head before I came on the pitch where I was going to go and it’s just about staying calm and executing it.

“I was just really fortunate we got the penalty and I came on and took it.

“But there was never any doubt in my mind I wasn't going to come on and take it and score.”

Meanwhile, boss Nathan Jones added: “I said to him, ‘it’s a free hit for you. Are you confident?’” He said, ‘I’m confident'.

“I said, ‘if you miss it, don’t worry’. He said, ‘I won’t miss it’.

“He practises them all the time so he’s confident, but to come off the bench, cold, without kicking the ball, no warm-up, to come in and take a penalty to win against your greatest rivals, shows a real character, and also a technique and a nerve.

"It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant.”