‘Criminal’ defending let Hatters down in their defeat to Millwall

‘Criminal’ defending from the Hatters saw their fine FA Cup run come to a disappointing end at the fifth round stage following their 3-0 home defeat to Millwall on Saturday, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 19th February 2013, 3:11 pm

All three of the Championship side’s goals could have been prevented and striker Andre Gray was in no doubt the result flattered the visitors.

He said: “I think we were the better team. I think we had most of the possession and created a lot of chances and I thought the goals we conceded were criminal and obviously that’s what’s cost us.

“I think obviously the first two goals were sloppy and the last one is just took it out of us. Obviously the first goal we are chasing the game and they were wasting time after that as well. I think they were wasting time from the start as well so it was frustrating for us because I thought we played well and probably should have been a lot better.”

The two first half goals came at particularly bad times, just as it looked like Luton had the Lions on the back foot.

Gray continued: “Especially the first goal, I think it came out of the blue and it was the first time they got through on goal. I think everyone still believed with the first goal, but obviously the second goal was a big blow for us and I think coming out at half time chasing a game against a Championship team was going to be difficult.

“I think every half chance they had went in and it wasn’t our day today. I think it’s just one of them days.”

Strike partner Scott Rendell felt it was individual errors that again killed the Hatters, saying: “Our individual mistakes early on costs us the game really. We gave it a good go, we’ve had a good run this year and it wasn’t to be today.

“I think we were just growing into the game every time they scored a goal. The goals for them came at important times. We’ve had a few very good chances and their keeper’s pulled off some really, really good saves so I guess that’s why he’s playing in the Championship.

“We gave it a good go, we worked hard, we tried our best out there and it just wasn’t to be. It was individual mistakes and we just weren’t quite good enough on the day.

“Those are the differences, that’s why they are in the Championship and that’s why we are where we are, it’s as simple as that.

“Every one of our players had to play nine, 10 out of 10 today and they had to have an off day which it wasn’t to be. But we won’t beat ourselves up about it, we’ve had a good cup run, we’ve enjoyed it. It’s individual mistakes but we can learn from that. We can only go out on the training field and try and make it work for next week.”

And midfielder Alex Lawless is hopeful those errors can be eradicated in the run-in, saying: “We know that as a team, we were discussing it as a team, and hopefully it stops now. It’s not too late, and if we can eradicate the errors we can kick on. It’s disappointing today but our sole aim at the start of the season was to get promoted and we’ll be in full flow for that now.

“We gave a good account of ourselves there, just disappointed to concede three goals in the way we did and I don’t think the score reflected the game at all.

“The timing of the goals and the way the goals have gone in, apart from that I think we were well in the game and giving a good account of ourselves. The good bits we did we ought to be proud of. Take them into the league now the good bits and eradicate all of the errors.”

He doesn’t believe the cup has proved a distraction, but does think that Luton must become more ruthless at both ends.

Lawless added: “I don’t think so no, a few people have said that to me, I don’t think it is, no. I don’t think that’s an excuse and if we end up going on a big run and doing well in the league now then people might say that’s what it was. I think we’ve done enough in the FA Cup to prove what we’re capable of. It’s time to stop talking about it and start performing like that in the league now.

“If we can get some consistency and most definitely sort out our away form then there’s no reason we can’t (win promotion). We said about the crucial times conceding and the chances putting them away at the right times. We worked so hard to get them, but we just need to be a bit more ruthless at both ends. It is there, we believe it is, and we’ve got to believe to have any chance. The FA Cup’s gone and we’ve got to take everything we can out of these games into the league.”