Town striker makes a case for the Hatters defence this season

Luton attacker knows his side can't concede as many as they did last term

Saturday, 12th September 2020, 10:14 am
Updated Saturday, 12th September 2020, 10:20 am
Glen Rea gets in a clearing header against Norwich at the weekend

Striker James Collins knows his side simply must improve their defensive record if they are to avoid another season of struggle in the Championship this term.

The Hatters finished last season with an awful goal difference of minus 28 after conceding 82 goals, with only bottom side Hull City having a worse record.

Conceding seven at Brentford was the lowest point, as Town could only manage just one clean sheet in their opening 31 games.

There were signs before Graeme Jones' departure that the worm was turning, Hatters only breached five times in his last six matches, with three shut outs too.

That was then carried on by Nathan Jones after lockdown as barring the 5-0 hammering by Reading, they kept three clean sheets in their final nine games, conceding just 11 goals.

Luton looked a far more solid outfit during their 3-1 Carabao Cup win over Norwich last weekend too, as Colins said: “I think that started from the back end of last season as well.

"We’ve been keeping a lot more clean sheets, we were a lot better as a team defensively and that’s how you win games, if you don’t concede goals.

"We always know we have goals in the team, so that’s credit to the lads that worked from the back end of last season and brought it into pre-season.

“We work on that in the week, it's not just a fluke, we know our jobs, we’ve got honest, hard-working lads in the team and they want to work for each other, they want to see the lads working.

"When you’ve got a group like that, lads who are willing to put the yards in then it’s always going to help, but I thought we looked a lot more solid (against Norwich).

“That’s going to give us a better chance of winning games, so if we’re keeping clean sheets then it’s up to us to find a way to score goals.

"If you need to score two, three, four goals a game to win then it’s going to be difficult, but I do agree, after lockdown, I think that was a big reason why we stayed up.

"We were a lot more solid and kept a lot more clean sheets, so credit to the gaffer and staff that came in and credit to the lads for buying into it, as I thought that kept us in the Championship."

Goalkeeper James Shea who kept one clean sheet in his 13 Championship appearances, that against Bristol City, also knew that major improvements are required this term.

He felt it was possible with a year's second tier experience behind them, continuing: "We went through a stage last year where we were nowhere near good enough, but for the last 12-15 games, the defensive record was so much better.

"It might be that we got used to the Championship a bit more, as it was a little bit of a shock to us.

"The Championship to League One is massive, absolutely massive.

"I don't think you realise it until you actually play in it, it’s drastic, so it took us a while just to get used to it, but you can tell from the last 15 games, we deserved to be there.”

On what the main differences are between the levels, Shea added: “It’s everything, you don’t play on a bad pitch now, every pitch you turn up to is pristine and that’s one of the big differences from League One.

"You’re playing in front of 30,000 most weeks too, but you want that as a player, that’s exactly what you want.

"You want to test yourself against the best players and it’s great to be a part of.

“You saw towards the end of last season, before lockdown, the bottom three teams were the teams who had come up from League One and it just shows how big the jump is from League One to the Championship.

"Now we’ve got the year’s experience under our belts, don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to say we’re going to be in the play-offs, or win the league, anything like that, but you’d like to think we won’t be where we were last season, this season.”