Buckle sympathetic to Bulls’ plight as Ainge returns

Hatters boss Paul Buckle
Hatters boss Paul Buckle
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Sympathetic Town boss Paul Buckle admitted he feels for tonight’s rivals Hereford United due to their financial troubles, writes Mark Wood.

And while he’s hoping an FA Cup run will help to soothe their financial woes, he’s focused on securing the three points as Luton look for a return to the Football League.

He said: “Nobody likes to see a club struggling financially. It’s not fair on the players and the staff or the people at the football club.

“I’m really happy they’ve managed to go through and hopefully that money can help them get back on their feet and going in the right direction, because it’s a great club, a good club.

“I played against them when I was a player and come up against them as a manager, so I’m pleased for them.

“But obviously tomorrow night that goes out of the window, we’ve got a big job on our hands to try and get the three points.”

The Bulls beat League One Shrewsbury Town 3-1 in Saturday’s FA Cup first round tie, while the Hatters were held to a 1-1 home draw by lowly Conference rivals Nuneaton Town.

Luton now face a replay to progress, by Buckle is concentrating on tonight’s match.

He said: “I only look at the next game, I’m boring like that, I can’t afford to look further than Hereford so that’s where our focus is now.

“It’s a massive game for us tomorrow night and when the FA Cup comes round we’ll have another big game against Nuneaton again.

“We shouldn’t fear anybody where we’re at the moment in terms of our performance levels.

“Confidence is high, there is no over-confidence in us, we feel that we can win home or away and we don’t feel we have to change too much away from that.”

Cup-tied defender Simon Ainge missed out on Saturday’s game but is sure to come back in to partner Janos Kovas at the back against his former club.

Buckle continued: “Without a doubt Ainge will come back into the team.

“He’s been fantastic for us since he came to the club. He’s a proper centre-half.

“It’s not been ideal chopping and changing. It’s never ideal when someone is cup-tied because you have to keep changing the back four.

“But again give credit to the team because the team have coped really well with it.

“Every time the team’s going to change we work on it again, we get them familiar with each on the training field, but they’re the ones that should take the credit the boys.

“Because no matter who we’ve played this season, in terms of which 11 we’ve picked, they’ve all gone out and given everything they’ve got.

“And this is the one thing now where the trust comes in with each other, and the trust comes in with the fans that everyone is giving every last bit for the cause.”

Hereford are bossed by experience manager Martin Foyle and Buckle asserted his team wouldn’t be taking any liberties against the Bulls who sit in 14 place.

“Martin’s a top manager like all the rest of them in the division,” said Buckle.

“It’s going to be a really tough game, they are on the back of a really good result at the weekend against a League club.

“I’m sure they’ll come out of the traps looking to win the game.

“We’re in great form. The players are in a good place at moment and we’ll do our homework on them, which we’ve done.

“We won’t take any liberties up there but we will certainly set ourselves out to go and win the game.

“That shows you how ambitious we’ve been this season in terms of setting out to win games.

“I’ve been thrilled with that, I’ve been thrilled with the players’ attitude towards the games.

“I’ve been delighted we’ve fell behind and we’ve come back and we’ve held on to games and we’ve done so many things right this season, I’m absolutely thrilled with the boys.

“But they know as well as I do that we’ve got nothing yet, we’ve got to keep working really hard.

“We had a good session today ahead of the game and we’ve got to be at our very best if we’re going to take the points.”

And he also had words of praise for striker Scott Rendell who netted Town’s later leveller on Saturday - his seventh goal of the season.

Buckle added: “His record speaks for itself, that’s the reason we brought him to the club.

“I’ve worked with him before, know what he’s about. He works his socks off first and foremost as a striker.

“Secondly he can score goals. So you see him come short for balls, he links the play up very well.

“He never hides especially if we’re behind or things are not going great, he’s always there to set attacks up for us.

“Certainly when the ball’s in the 18-yard box with the delivery we’ve got from people like (Jake) Howells and (JJ) O’Donnell and (Stuart) Fleetwood there is no-one better really than Rendell to finish.