Naismith enjoying centre back role after starring display in Hatters' rare victory at Forest

New signing happy to play wherever he is asked

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 4:40 pm
Kal Naismith gets to the ball first against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night
Kal Naismith gets to the ball first against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night

Recent addition Kal Naismith is enjoying settling into one of the many guises for the Hatters after being deployed as a centre half for last night's 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest

The 29-year-old had been thrust into the role midway through the first half when Luton were 1-0 down to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, the Owls looking dangerous every time they went forward, as he eventually helped tighten the hosts’ resolve, ensuring they were able to hit back for a stunning 3-2 triumph in the second period.

Naismith then kept his spot at the City Ground last night, part of an excellent defensive display which was the cornerstone of Town’s first win on Forest territory since 1983 and a seventh away clean sheet of the campaign.

On moving to the heart of Luton's back-line, he said: “It’s a position I enjoy, a position I’ve played before, I enjoy it there.

“As I said when I came in, it’s up to the manager, where he wants to play me, if he wants to play me and wherever he does need me, it’s about the team.

"So wherever he sees me fit for the team I’ll go and play.

“Today it was centre back and I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the challenge.

“I was playing against a top striker there in (Glenn) Murray and Lyle Taylor comes on at the end, they've got two up top, who are quality and I relished the challenge, I liked being back there.”

With both Tom Lockyer and Sonny Bradley out through injury, Naismith was alongside Matty Pearson in a new-look centre half pairing and praised the performance of his team-mate during the clash.

He continued: “That just shows the strength and depth in the squad.

"You’ve got Bradley and Lockyer out, two massive players for the club, unbelievable at what they do, unbelievable defenders, great centre halves, but to be there with Matty he’s another one who’s outstanding.

"He leads by his performances and is just a leader on the pitch, so it’s good to be back there with him.

"I feel comfortable there and it was good for us to get a clean sheet.”

Getting through to the break was vital for the Hatters and they managed that despite being under the cosh at times in the opening period with Murray going close, his header saved by Simon Sluga.

The keeper also denied Joe Lolley, while Murray scooped a close range volley over, but Naismith knew sitting down in the changing room, it was a good job half done.

It was to prove the case as Ryan Tunnicliffe volleyed home Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's fantastic cross just after the hour mark, as Naismith continued: “We could have been better first half, but nil-nil half time away at Nottingham Forest, you’re not sitting too bad there.

"We know we’ve always improved as games have worn on in the second half and we knew we’d improve.

"We just had to up it a little bit and it’s just the quality you see.

"Pell with unbelievable quality for the delivery, a great run from Tunni and it’s a very difficult finish which he’s pulled off amazingly, so delighted for him.

"I think we could have controlled the game a bit more after that and tried to see it out a bit better.

"We had chances to maybe go on and score again, but listen, we've come out with a clean sheet, 1-0 victory, it’s a good night.”

Naismith admitted the players saw plenty more of manager Nathan Jones during the interval this time too after Town’s boss had left them to their own devices at the weekend when they were 2-0 down to Sheffield Wednesday, preferring to set up a plan for the Hatters go get back into the contrast, which they eventually did.

The Scot added: "On Saturday he came in briefly at the end and just organised the lads and how we wanted to play the second half,.

"He let the lads just sit there and take it in and we had to reflect on that first half performance which we did and we came out stronger.

"He set us up to go second half and the lads bounced back, it was good to know that when the chips are down everyone can be counted for and we can come back.

"But half time tonight he came in and set us up, told us if we can just improve a little bit we can win the game and he was right.”