Hatters boss Paul Buckle is hoping his side will be at their Sunday best when they visit Mansfield Town’s Field Mill home, writes Mark Wood.
It’s the second Sunday in a row Town will be working after boss Paul Buckle hauled them in for an extra day’s training last weekend after their terrible 2-0 home defeat to Dartford.
And he revealed at today’s press conference that that loss to the Darts was the most angry he has been with his players since he took charge and that he felt compelled to pull them in the following day, despite it clashing with his other half’s birthday.
He said: “Hopefully it’s a lot happier Sunday than I had last week.
“We’ve put in an awful lot of work since out defeat to Dartford. Now we look forward again.
“It was my good lady’s birthday on the Sunday, and I would much rather be sat at home with the family enjoying her birthday, but I wasn’t, I was in with the chaps because it’s that important to us all.
“It’s probably the angriest I’ve been with the group and they knew that Sunday morning.
“I don’t mince my words. If I need to get under the skin of the players I will.
“But the good thing is I understand what group I’ve got, because they’ve been brilliant for me and they’ve been brilliant for the club.
“In my opinion there was a weakness at our club, but there’s not no more.
“We’ve got a real honest group, that are prepared to roll their sleeves up and have a go.
“Because I’ve always maintained, to get out of this division, that’s the first vital ingredient we need is strength of character and honest players and I feel we’ve got it.
“I feel we’ve got that, you’ve see the work-rate that’s gone in. We never give up, but I was just angry we didn’t take that opportunity on Saturday and so were the fans and rightly so.”
On how angry he’d been with his players after the Darts defeat, Buckle continued: “I was angry on Saturday because we let our supporters down first and foremost and people pay good money to come and watch us play, I’ve always said that.
“I was angry we couldn’t go and take the opportunity that was in front of us because we are good enough to go and do it.
“But for whatever reason we had an off day. I’m never one to make excuses in terms of you know bad day at the office, but we really did have one.
“I think sometimes myself, I’ve got to not allow them to have an off-day, that’s the wrong word, but accept it.
“And it’s very difficult to accept, especially when you are in front of a number of fans like we are.
“Because we know when we win at home and when we are flying they are right behind us.
“It was a highly frustrating day for all, me included, I was very angry.”
Buckle was pleased with the way his side responded with Tuesday night’s 2-0 FA Cup first round replay win at Nuneaton Town, but admitted the Dartford performance may well have been a hangover from their unfortunate 1-0 defeat at Hereford.
He said: “They’ve been in good heart all along. When you’ve got momentum, like we had, that takes a lot of effort to build that up.
“And without going on about the Hereford game that maybe knocked us a little bit because we were on such a good run and in such good form.
“And in that game that’s the best I’ve seen us look to be honest.
“In that Hereford game we looked so solid and strong, organised and all the things I would be looking for us to maintain that run. And it never came off for us, and I think it stunned us a little bit.
“To have the disappointing performance on the Saturday threw us all. It threw me, it threw the players. But the good thing I’ve got with the group of players is it wasn’t a punishment coming in on the Sunday, it was let’s get back to work, let’s get back to doing what we do best.
“We know if we play to our full potential in these games we’ve got a great chance of winning them.”
One of the most frustrating aspects of the Dartford defeat was that games played by the top teams earlier that day had gone the Hatters’ way.
This time around there is a full list of fixtures on the Saturday before, but Buckle doesn’t believe that will add any extra pressure.
He added: “The season’s not over on Sunday. I don’t look for pressure. It’s not something I look for.
“I look at the end of the season and I trust this group of players.
“We all know the pressure our football club is under from everyone.
“Don’t try and kid me that teams don’t try harder against Luton, they do.
“We know that, we know all of these things, that’s why it’s not easy to get out of the league, but there’s no pressure.
“There’s only pressure at the end of the season on us if we haven’t achieved what we’ve wanted to achieve and what we want to achieve is promotion.
“Win lose or draw Sunday, it’s not over because a few weeks ago we were on a terrific run and we lose a game or two.
“It’s about finding out why, which we’ve done, we’ve worked it out, and it’s about now moving forward again, which we’ve done.
“I certainly won’t be allowing any of my players to get down or miserable or staff if we lose a game of football.
“We are not that good. We must be very careful that we don’t think we are that good that we can just roll teams over.
“There are a lot of good, hungry teams at our level. There are over half now in the division that are ex-League clubs who want to get out just like us.
“Who train hard every day, work hard every day and want to get out of the League like us.
“What we have to do is stick together, remain focused and at the end of the season look and hopefully say we did it. That’s what we’ve got to do.”