Delighted Buckle admits he would have been ‘crazy’ to change his team
Delighted Hatters boss Paul Buckle admitted he would have been ‘crazy’ to change a winning formula after seeing his side record a second terrific win on Tuesday night, writes Mark Wood.
Town followed up their brilliant 1-0 FA Cup win over Wolves on Saturday by destroying bottom club Barrow 6-1 at Kenilworth Road.
He said: “Even I’d have been crazy if I’d changed it from the team that had beaten a Championship team, so it was very easy.
“That’s what I’m after, I’m after the players making it easy for me. But at times we haven’t made it too easy this season.
“Having said that, after our disappointment on New Year’s Day we’ve recovered brilliantly and that’s what they’ve done all season, they’ve recovered.
“What we’ve got to try and do now is stay on a run now. Stay on a run in the league. Yes it will be interrupted with the cup and we will have some decisions to make on Saturday with legs.
“But the good thing tonight, I could take (Jon) Shaw off, I could take off (Andre) Gray off, who got good applause, and bring on Fleets (Stuart Fleetwood) and Rens (Scott Rendell). So that was good.”
And he was thrilled his players had been able to maintain the momentum generated by their cup shock.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted. After the euphoria of the weekend you are always worried the players won’t be able to keep the levels of performance again.
“But credit to the boys. They were at it from the first minute. We pressed really well.
“We knew that Barrow would try and pass the ball. We actually accepted it tonight, let them pass it and pressed them and stole it off them on a number of occasions.
“It was a really good start and we stayed like that most of the night really.
“There was a hunger about the players tonight, we wanted to carry on where we left off and they deserved the credit again. It was a flying start to get three goals up so early was brilliant.
“I said to the players at half time, ‘what do the supporters want?’ And they said more goals.
“And I said, ‘what do you want?’ And they said the same. It worked well together tonight.”
Target man Jon Shaw starred with a hat-trick after Scott Neilson and Janos Kovacs had netted to put Luton 2-0 up.
And hard-working striker Andre Gray put the cherry on top of Luton’s victory with a classy sixth.
Buckle lavished praise on the young striker, but knows that he still has plenty in his game to improve.
He said: “Andre, he’s got a lot to work on, there’s no doubt about that. But when he plays high, which I’m going to go mad keep telling him to do it. When he stays high and he lets the team work in front of him and we turn the ball over, he’s dangerous.
“You leave him one-v-one or event two-v-one he’s dangerous and he done that tonight.
“His goals came from them having good possession. He followed the play, he walked the play, I’m encouraging him to do. And when we turned the ball over he was clean it. You’re not going to catch him when he’s in there. You’re not going to catch him and he showed some real composure. Normally he goes for power, but he showed great composure tonight.”
Town had made a perfect start through Neilson’ strike, with Buckle saying: “That’s what we want, we always want an early goal, but especially tonight, and he was in the right place at the right time.
“Set-plays play a major role and we work hard on that and Janos did the right thing.
“It’s a whipped ball in, he got across the front and he got his rewards.”
And back-in-favour left-back Greg Taylor played a key role in setting up two of Shaw’s goals, as Buckle continued: “The other couple of goals were great goals.
“Some of the pass-and-move football tonight once we settled down was excellent. Real good tempo and an appreciative supporters tonight. The fans were great.
“Greggers’ whipped balls in were exceptional and so hard to defend. When we get round the back of teams and put the ball in, Shaw will always be there.”
And although pleased with Taylor’s performance, Buckle was concerned that his side conceded another goal from a set-piece when well in command.
He said: “The key is now for him and the rest of the defence is to stay solid. You saw the set-play we conceded from, that wasn’t good enough. Nowhere near good enough. Jan loses his man in the box, and on another day that will cost us. I’m always looking for more and that’s the way it’s got to be.”
Buckle also had some sympathy for Barrow and their boss, former Luton defender David Bayliss.
The Bluebirds are currently under a transfer embargo and were only able to name two men on the bench for the fixture.
The Luton boss said: “I actually felt they played some good football. I’ve got to be honest, I thought they were quite brave all night in their approach.
“They moved the ball really well, but obviously we probably could have scored more than six.”
The win was the biggest of Buckle’s Luton managerial career and helped to double Town’s goal difference, although that was far from the top of his agenda.
He added: “I’ve not gone that far into it. I’ve been concentrating on trying to get three points. Anything’s a bonus. Six goals were great to see.”