Cup run should have been a confidence-booster and not a ‘distraction’

Town skipper Ronnie Henry believes Luton’s FA Cup run should have been filling them with confidence rather than becoming the ‘distraction’ it appears to have become, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 14th February 2013, 12:00 pm

Tuesday night’s defeat at part-time Dartford was in complete contrast to Luton’s FA Cup wins over Championship Wolves and Premier League Norwich, and he’s hoping Luton can raise their game for the visit of Championship Millwall for Saturday’s televised fifth round clash.

He said: “It shouldn’t have been (a distraction) really, it should have given us confidence the last two wins in the FA Cup. And we’ve got a big game Saturday, that’s why tonight was an important game, we should have got the three points. We haven’t, we move on to Saturday and we’ve got a big FA Cup tie to see if we can make history in that. But the league is a priority and we need to do something about that.

“We’ve showed in the last two games in the FA Cup that we’re good enough to play the higher opposition. I’m sure it will be no different Saturday. We will be going into that game full of confidence from what we’ve done in the last two games, and see if we can get a positive result and move on from there.”

Winger Scott Neilson, who is cup-tied and not eligible to play at the weekend, impressed against the Darts and is adamant that the players shouldn’t have been distracted by the cup.

But he is hopeful his team-mates can pull off another ‘miracle’ at the weekend, saying: “I don’t know, it’s not in the back of my mind because I’m not involved in it. That shouldn’t be in the back of anybody’s mind. The league’s got to be the main priority here.

“I’m not too sure what it is. The lads are all up for it before the game and then it’s disappointing. We concede a goal and it’s like a panic button. I think we need to play more football and get up and it’s just not happening at the minute.

“Even if we do win Saturday, it’s going to be a wonderful achievement, but it ain’t going to give us any more points in the league.

“Saturday the lads are going to give 120 per cent and I’m sure like all the fans are going to be as good as ever. Hopefully a miracle can happen again and we can get through to the next round, but it still don’t change the fact we’ve come to Dartford and lost on a Tuesday.

“I don’t think you can fault anyone’s effort. You’ve got to come here and get something out of the game.”

But he admitted that with Luton’s heritage and their recent media exposure due to their cup run, Town’s is probably a scalp everyone in the Conference would like.

Neilson said: “There might be a target, but we’re better than most of the teams in the league and we’ve got to start putting it right.”

Boss Paul Buckle admitted he didn’t know whether the FA Cup run had affected his players and it certainly hadn’t had any impact on their preparation for Tuesday night’s game.

On how they’d prepared, he said: “By doing everything the same, by focusing solely on the next game, but I’ve not got a crystal ball, I can’t see what’s in the players’ minds, I can’t see that.

“They’re human beings, if they’ve got the cup in their mind it’s very hard to stop that. But we’ve certainly not done anything different and tonight on an away performance we were in the game for long spells. Other than a fantastic goal into the top corner that’s what let us down tonight.”

And on who in the Lions’ outfit was causing him concern, Buckle added: “I’ve not had time to think about that yet!”