Groundhog Day for Luton fans, but Henry refuses to give up on promotion

Long-suffering Luton fans must be feeling like it’s Groundhog Day all over again as they fell further behind in the promotion race following Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss at Dartford, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 14th February 2013, 10:00 am

It was another frustrating evening for Town’s supporters who vented their frustration at the final whistle as Town now find themselves 14 points off top spot and even six points off the play-offs – although they do have games in hand over many of the teams above them.

It’s an all-too-familiar tale for the Hatters who are in their fourth year in the Conference and have every year fallen behind on points and games played.

But boss Paul Buckle refused to panic, saying: “We’ve been looking to get promotion for three and a bit years and it’s a dogfight. So I know what I’m in, I’ve known what I’m in for quite a while.

“And the players know tonight it’s a slog. It’s not about coming here and being brilliant, it’s about coming here and being dogged, doing your job and waiting for your opportunity.

“Tonight we didn’t hold on to the 0-0 for long enough and if we’re going to get out of this division you need to come here and pick something up.”

And he remains focused on the job in hand and is confident he can turn things around, saying: “I’m not looking at the end of the season I’m looking at the next game.

“Games in hand don’t count until you play them, so we’ve got an important fifth round cup game. There will be no kneejerk from me on a 1-0 defeat away from home.

“Focus on this game, focus solely on the next game. My eyes are nowhere other than Dartford tonight. We gave it everything to try and get a win here tonight, We’ve been positive, we’ve played a positive team, we’ve been watertight from set-plays which has let us down in the past and tonight the boy’s come inside and smashed it in the top corner. I’m disappointed, but there’ll be no kneejerk from us.

“If I’m stood here in five or six games and we’ve gone on a decent away run and won games in hand, I won’t be saying anything different, you won’t get anything different out of me other than hard work, honesty.

“In many ways I’ve only been in the job five minutes. I can’t change a million things at once. I’m doing my best to try and get a team that’s capable of getting out of this division. “

Skipper Ronnie Henry is concerned that Luton are falling off the pace, but his previous experiences at Stevenage mean that he’s refusing to give up on automatic promotion.

He said: “It’s in the back of our minds, the back of everyone’s minds, the fans’, the club’s, but we’ve still got to go for top spot. I was 15 points behind with Stevenage and we still managed to get it back, so we can pull it back, no doubt about that. But we have to do it quick, we are going to have to learn quick to come to these kinds of places and get points.”

And he’s demanding that he and his senior colleagues lift the side, adding:“We’ve got to keep the team spirit up, but also we’ve got to be honest with ourselves. We can’t just walk away, forget about it and move on, it’s got to be sorted out. There’s a few other lads that the gaffer’s brought in now to bolster us up and lead us on.

“No just myself, we’ve got to show that to the younger players and be on to them. That’s probably why this club’s been in the Conference for the last four years because they haven’t been good enough.

“We’ve got myself, Macca (Steve McNulty) and Tommo (Wayne Thomas) and a few of the others that have won medals and know how to do it. No matter how much we have to keep drumming home to them, we’ll have to do it more.

“We’re not doing it enough and we’ve got to get into them younger players and also ourselves, we’ve got to try and motivate ourselves because we need to get out of this league and we’ve got to learn very fast, starting from tomorrow morning there needs to be something done about it.”