Defensive errors were only blemish for Still

Happy Hatters boss John Still admitted he was only disappointed by the nature of the goals his side conceded as they were held to a 2-2 home draw by play-off hopefuls Newport County at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17th April 2013, 11:05 pm
Jon Shaw beats his man on Tuesday night
Jon Shaw beats his man on Tuesday night

Hotshot striker Andre Gray had twice put Town ahead, but some shoddy defending allowed ex-Town target Christian Jolley to twice level.

Still said: “I thought we were very good first half, we were not bad second half and they’d probably say the same with different halves.

“We’ve played these, we’ve played Kidderminster here, played Grimsby and I think we’ve come to grips with the better teams in the league at the moment.

“If I had a disappointment it would probably be conceding two goals in the manner that we conceded them, because I felt that when we went 2-1 up we would win it.

“But I’m disappointed with the goals and I’m sure I’m going to be disappointed by other things. Part and parcel of it is doing what I’m doing, learning about who can do what and to concede the two goals, that’s probably my only disappointment.”

Gray had missed a great opportunity at 1-0 when he dinked over the bar and felt that if he had taken that chance victory would have been Luton’s.

“I think we deserved the three points,” he said. “If I put my second chance away we go on to win it.

“Obviously it wasn’t to be and in the end it’s probably a good point against a good team.”

However, there were plenty of plus points for the Town chief on the night as he continued: “On a really difficult pitch for both teams I thought first half we moved the ball terrific, I was really pleased with our play.

“In the second half, although we weren’t as fluent, we saw another side of our game where I thought we showed a great deal of determination, worked our socks off and other than an error, a couple of errors maybe, I’d have said I’m quite pleased that.

“I was pleased with lots of stuff and I think that they came probably fully packed to give it a right go but our first half performance was first class. I thought our second half performance was decent without being first class.

“They’ve had to work hard to get back in the game and I think our two goals were really good goals, well-taken goals. They probably wouldn’t say the same about their two goals, they would probably say they came from mistakes.”

There were a number of notable individual performance again as Town’s players are thriving in the fluid 4-3-3 system they had adopted with Alex Lawless in the hole behind Jon Shaw.

Still said: “I like it, I do. I’ve been really, really pleased with how we’ve picked it up. It’s only a version of 4-4-2 with a deeper lying centre forward, but I think some of the balls into that spare man, especially early on, were very good.

“From (Solomon) Taiwo, from (Scott) Griffiths, even the centre-halves, just playing them into them with a little bit of space so we can set an attack up and it’s very pleasing.

“I thought Jon Shaw’s first half performance was absolutely terrific. His hold-up play, his movement was terrific and he was really unlucky with his effort where he’s had a shot from a long way out.

“I thought the front three were quite a handful. Alex Lawless was good again, I thought we’d have a look and see if Jake Howells could do that job for us as well which was encouraging.

“So there’s quite a few pluses on the way.”

Gray is also a big fan of the system and thinks it plays to his and David Martin’s strengths, who is on the opposite prong of the three-man strikeforce,

He said: “I think playing wide right in a 4-4-2 is not my position but playing off a three I think it suits me a bit better because I get the chance to go in behind a bit more.

“Playing the 4-4-2 holding the ball up is not my best attribute and it’s something I still need to work on.

“It takes the pressure off me having to do that and it gets me faced up with the defender rather than having my back to them. We’ve got a really good understanding now with Shawy and Dave and Alex Lawless.

“He fits in perfectly for how I play Alex, he has always got that eye to put it in over behind me and Shawy has got that one as well that I’m always going to go in behind.

“The gaffer’s come in and he’s had to change a few things and had to see different partnerships and now we’ve changed to a 4-3-3 formation it seems to have clicked a bit more.

“I think it suits a lot of the players a bit more instead of us being too neutral in certain areas.”

Gray also believes that Lawless is lapping up the role to create chances for the three players in front of him.

He added: “I think he’s still looking at different players in different positions and seeing how they work in pairs. Lawless hasn’t played in that position all season and he’s put him in there to look at him and he’s been unbelievable in that little position, it suits him a lot.

“He gets forward a lot with it and it isolates Dave as well and you need to give Dave space and give him room to run in.

“The formation we’re playing now he’s got licence to stay high and wide and that’s what the gaffer’s encouraging me and Dave to do and let Shawy be the hold-up man and, as you can see, that’s what Shawy’s game’s about. He’s one of the best in the league at it.”

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