Town quartet signing autographs at gym Town quartet Jake Howells, Alex Lawless, Andre Gray and Jon Shaw will be on hand to sign autographs for supporters at DW Sports gym in Dunstable tonight. The players will be at the popular gym between 5.30pm and 6.30pm this evening, signing the 2013 official Luton Town calender.
“Paul Buckle acknowledge his side did not acclimatise to the wintry conditions in South Wales as they were brushed aside by a clinical Newport County side on Tuesday night.
With temperatures falling below freezing for Tuesday’s Blue Square Bet Premier clash, it was the home side that showed just why they preside at the summit while Luton find themselves six points adrift of automatic promotion.
Goals from Andre Gray and Jon Shaw grabbed Luton’s goals either side of half time but ultimately the Exiles outclassed the Hatters in front of vociferous home support, much to Buckle’s disappointment.
“At the end of the day you have to adapt whether it’s a nice pitch or a poor pitch like it was tonight and they adapted better than us so we didn’t deserve anything,” said Buckle.
“When we made it down here and looked at the pitch we knew that there was going to be very little football played.
“It was always going to be a fight and about the team who adjusted the best and unfortunately for us it was Newport. We just didn’t get our foot through things tonight.”
The Hatters’ boss also rued the absence of integral duo Jonathan Smith, who was recalled to York City from his loan spell at Kenilworth Road on Monday, and giant Hungarian centre-back Janos Kovacs through suspension.
“When you lose a player like Smith in the middle of the park who gives us that fight and bite and you lose the influence of Kovacs it makes life difficult,” Buckle said.
“I thought we got bullied in certain areas and forced us into errors which proved costly.”
With the game hanging in the balance on the hour at 3-2, Buckle was aware the tide could have turned further in Luton’s favour.
However more poor defending allowed County to re-establish a two-goal lead just moments after Jon Shaw’s lashed goal for Luton’s second.
“At 3-2 you could have heard a pin drop in this ground and in my opinion we were in with a real chance but when [Nathaniel] Rowe-Turner and [Dean] Beckwith poke at things and they ricochet through to the strikers, it leaves you with very little chance.”
Of some consolation was the goal and league return of Shaw after weeks out with a thigh problem.
“It was bittersweet for me really,” said Shaw. “It was a great ball in from Ron [Henry] and I’ve timed my run and got on the end of it.
“The first thing I thought after though was get back to halfway and get back to 3-3 so to go down 5-2 was very disappointing.”
The five goals Luton conceded was their worst defensive effort since dropping out of the Football League in 2008.
Further insult was added to injury as former Hatter Aaron O’Connor was in scintillating form, notching his 15th goal of a superb season with the game’s opener.
A trip to Matlock Town in the FA Trophy second round awaits Luton on Saturday and Buckle is keen for the Hatters to bounce straight back.
“When we lose a game it is always disappointing but we don’t become a bad team overnight,” Buckle said.
“We know we made errors tonight but we won’t get too disheartened. Newport just exploited our bad play and it is as simple as that.
Counter-attacking AFC Telford United will be fearful of the Hatters according to first team development coach Carl Emberson, writes Mark Wood.
The former Luton keeper took today’s press conference after watching the Bucks beat Braintree 3-0 on Saturday.
And although impressed with what he saw, Emberson was in confident mood ahead of Saturday’s game.
He said: “I went and watched them on Saturday and Telford did well but Braintree weren’t that good either, so they’ll be disappointed Braintree.
“They’ve picked up last week, it was a great result 3-0, but it will be a different kettle of fish when they play someone as strong as us.
“Again with our squad and our team I think we’ll cause them a few problems.
“They did try and play football. They liked to play counter-attacking football as well.
“They almost played with traditional wingers, 4-4-2 with wide men and caused problems for Braintree and they’ve got some players we need to be on our toes with, we’ve got to be aware of.
“But in the same breath they’ll be worrying about us with out pace in our team, because are blessed with a lot of pace in our team which will be causing them problems.”
Emberson though is not expecting them to be so ‘brave’ when they come to Kenilworth Road at the weekend and is expecting them to play on the counter.
He continued: “Unfortunately I think we’re going to find that with a lot of teams that come to Luton.
“I’m not sure they will be so brave against us. They were very adventurous against Braintree at home.
“I hope they are that adventurous when they come to us. It will be a great game to watch and we will have to wait and see if they are as brave as that against Luton.”
“It’s just something we have to do. We look at the now but it could be totally different Saturday.
“It’s something we do have to look into and will pay respect to, Telford are coming here and we’re in the same league as them and we have to treat them like any other team that are fighting for promotion.”
On the Bucks’ biggest threats, he said: “They just gave a good solid performance. Braintree weren’t strong.
“They had a wide man who was quite tricky and he played quite well, but nothing for us to be scared of.”
Luton are almost sure to be without long-term absentees Danny Spiller, Garry Richards and James Dance, but Emberson is hoping Town will have everyone else fit.
“We are obviously keeping eyes on it and I will speak to the physio later,” he said. “I’m hoping we are going to have a full squad.
“I think Danny Spiller’s going to be a little while yet and Garry Richards again I’ll have to speak to the physio so I’m not too sure on the length of them, but they’ve been out a little while so far so they’re the only two real worries.
“There’s always little niggles but there’s nothing to be really worried about there as we speak now. We’re pretty confident that we should have a strong squad for Saturday.”
But they are unlikely to pay too much attention to last season’s encounter that saw Telford claim a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road.
On whether they had watched that video, he said: “Not of yet no, because that was last year and the team will have changed.
“We’ve got a totally different set-up, so we are looking at today, now, what they are going to bring to the table.
“As I said, I went to watch them and they were very brave with certain things which was interesting.
“But I’ve been informed last year a lot of teams would be like that and then they would come here and play five behind the midfield, five in midfield and sit behind the ball.”
And Emberson is adamant that Luton must get the Kenilworth Road faithful behind them, especially after a poor opening 45 minutes in the opening day 2-2 home draw with Gateshead.
He said: “That’s what we’re looking for, well we’re demanding that. It’s at home and we’ve got to stamp our authority early on.
“Go about it our way and come out with a really positive mental attitude and get at teams and show if they are going to come to Luton they’re going to come to a high tempo team that are going to press and look to score many goals.
“Obviously your home form is key to many promotions. I think last year in Division Two Shrewsbury won 20 league games at home, but they weren’t so strong away.
“So it’s a major factor in getting promotion, but we would like to think this year we will be strong away as well as at home.
“We are looking to win every game and we’re not going to make any excuses, I think with the squad we’ve got we’re capable of winning at home or away.
“But obviously at home we would like to play with a bit more tempo and really take the game to teams.”
And he added: “I think it’s a massive thing for us this year that at home we have to play with a real tempo and a real way about ourselves that we are going to take against teams.
“If we can get 7,000 people behind us, that’s a massive bonus.
“It’s always a lot harder when you’re not doing well and the fans are a bit disgruntled but, as it showed the other night, when they got behind us the team lifted and when we got the first goal there was only going to be onewinner in that game and it was only a matter of time before we got the second.
“It’s a massive part of it. Any team that is successful and gets out of a division they’ll have the fans well behind them.
“You don’t see teams that are at the top calling for people’s heads. Booing them off. We’ve got to have that and we’ve got to start that and the only way we can do that is if we play good attacking football and we score goals and entertain them.”
Focused Luton have their sights firmly set on Saturday’s visit of AFC Telford despite a trip to Ebbsfleet coming just 48 hours later, writes Mark Wood.
First team development coach Carl Emberson said: “We’ll just be trying to win the game Saturday first, that’s the most important game for Luton Town to win the game Saturday.
“All we can do is hope our squad is big enough to cope with anything that’s thrown at us over the weekend.
“We’re not going to take out eye off the ball and look at Ebbsfleet.
“That is 48 hours after the first game. The boys will get their ample rest, we’ve got to win the Telford game and that’s the most important thing to Luton Town at the minute.”
Having taken seven points from three games in the space of six days Town have enjoyed a well-deserved rest ahead of their double-header against the Bucks and Fleet.
Emberson continued: “We’ve enjoyed the break. With the pre-season games we had many games in pre-season and then the three games in a week which was obviously hard going for the boys and this week’s it’s been nice to have a little bit of a rest.
“But we’ve got to keep out foot on it and we’ve got another two important games coming up Saturday and Monday. So it’s going to be another two tough games.”
Three games have yielded two goals in each for Luton and Emberson is hoping Town’s strikers can continue to perform.
“We had a little break after that, obviously the boys needed to get their rest and recover from their little niggly injuries,” he said.
“Obviously our attacking options have been a big threat this year as you’ve seen, we’ve been able to score in every game and we want to keep on that.
“And really just working on getting the lads together and working towards what Telford’s weaknesses are really and looking to exploit them.
“Andre Gray came off the bench and had a massive impact in the game against Hyde.
“Fleets (Stuart Fleetwood) is scoring goals, (Jon) Shawy’s now got roughly about 180 minutes under him, he had his first 90 minutes the other night, which we knew he was always going to be a little bit behind with his fitness levels, so he’ll come to form soon.
“And you’ve obviously got Scott Rendell playing in just behind he strikers whose provided a lot of assists and is working hard for the team.
“So we have options and a lot of ways we can play. At the moment we’re sticking to the way we play at the moment and it’s working.”
On the form of Fleetwood, which has seen him strike four times in three games, Emberson said: “That’s why the club brought Stuart Fleetwood here. His record is second to none in the Conference, 25-30 goals regularly for a few seasons.
“We need that. To get promotion we need two strikers to do well. They’ve got to bring three-quarters of the goals to the team really.
“If you want to get up you are probably going to need 90-plus goals this year to get up and we’re going to need out strikers to be a big part of that.
“Stuart’s done what he’s paid to do really, put the ball in the net, and that’s what he’s done all his career.
“And he’ll continue doing that. He’s got good pedigree and he’s a good striker.”
Although the Hatters have trimmed down their numbers this term, Emberson is confident that the Hatters have the squad to cope during busy periods, with many players getting a chance against the Bucks and Fleet.
The ex-Town stopper said: “I think when the games come thick and fast it is a little bit like that.
“A little bit of Lady Luck comes into it with your injuries, can help you.
“You hear a cliche but a lot of football managers talk about the Christmas period being a massive part, when there are so many games close together.
“And normally the teams with the bigger squads, the stronger squads, are the ones that do well over Christmas ,the same as bank holiday weekends.
“If you’ve got a good selection of choice from a big squad it can help ease the worries.
“Hopefully, touch wood, we’ll come through the game against Telford with no problems and that will help obviously.
“We won’t have to reshuffle the pack or anything like that it will just be straightforward.
“You need to get your rest, it’s going to be tight but it’s the same for Ebbsfleet, they’ve got two games in three days.
“So it’s no different to them. Hopefully we won’t have too much taken out of us against Telford and it’s going to be a game that hopefully we can get in control early.
“In an ideal would you look to use your whole squad over the two games. But it’s not always that easy.
“We’ve got a lot of time ‘til Saturday, 48 hours is a long time, so we are not too concerned at the moment.
“We’ve got good cover and some great players at the back as well so we’ve got plenty of experience.
“We had Dean Beckwith on the bench the other night, whose played many games in the Football League and in the Conference.
“It’s nothing that concerns us, we’ve got a good squad and that’s what we’re going to need to get out of this league.”
Both Howells and Gray made a real difference coming off the bench at Hyde on Friday night as Luton fought back from a goal down to win 2-1.
And both are likely to figure in the next few days, as Emberson admitted: “Jake Howells is a class player. He’s going to be something that’s in our plans all year.
“He played on the Wednesday night (for Wales U21s), for 10 men, for 80 minutes and he covered a lot of ground.
“We had the game watched and obviously he was playing and they had 10 men and so he was doing a double shift.
“To then ask him to come and play on the Friday night we thought was a lot. You have to remember Jake Howells is 21 years old and we’ve got to look after him a little bit and make sure he’s right.
“We were proved right because we won the game and the two subs that came on had an impact on the game.
“It worked out well, because he got his rest. He only played probably 30 minutes and now he’ll be refreshed for the weekend and flying to go.”
On Gray, he continued: “We’ve got to remember he is 21 years old. He’s got plenty of time throughout the season.
“He’s come off the bench and had a massive impact and that’s what you need to have in this league.
“You need to have people that can be on the bench and can affect the game when you need them and to have Jake Howells and Andre Gray on the bench we are in a fortunate position, and it showed that when we brought them on we were 1-0 down and won 2-1.
“And it is tough trying to balance it all. But Andre Gray will have a massive impact on the season.
“And he definitely won’t lose the sharpness through the training we are putting on now and through the games that will come thick and fast.
“He’ll play a massive part in the next two games.
“He’s going to get on and he’s got on the other day and we will wait and see what happens with the team this Saturday.
“It doesn’t mean because he was on the bench on Friday he’s going to be on the bench for the rest of the season. It’s just one game, we’ve got a long way to go yet.”
No more new additions seem to be on the horizon, although Emberson admitted teams are always on the lookout.
He added: “You’d have to ask the gaffer that one! It’s something that will be in his domain.
“But I think it’s something every team in the Football League or Conference would want to bring in strength in depth to teams and squads.
“We’re no different, but that’s something you’d have to take up with Mr Buckle.”
We are top of the league, say we are top of the league
Luton Town had to come from behind as they won 2-1 at Hyde to go top of the early Blue Square Bet Premier table.
Hyde new boy Matt Blinkhorn scored on his debut against his old club on 56 minutes when he turned on the edge of the box to find the top left corner.
The home side’s lead lasted 13 minutes before JJ O’Donnell found the bottom corner from outside the penalty box.
Last season’s Luton top scorer Stuart Fleetwood then won it 11 minutes from time when he struck from close range.
The in-form Fleetwood took his tally to four goals in three games to help the Hatters maintain their unbeaten start.
Hyde, searching for their first win since returning to this level, looked on course for all three points wit that debut strike from Blinkhorn, who had only signed earlier in the day.
But O’Donnell levelled with his first goal for the Hatters before Fleetwood popped up with the winner, tucking home a fine cross by Andre Gray.