Hatters favourite McNulty hails the greatest goal of his career after Southport wonder strike

Battle-scarred veteran defender Steve McNulty hailed the greatest goal of his career as his stunning dipping volley from almost 30 yards was the catalyst for Luton’s 3-0 win over Southport on Tuesday night, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 28th November 2013, 8:00 am
L13-1400 LTFC v Southport at Kenilworth road, Luton, they won 3:0 
Mike Simmonds
JR 48
L13-1400 LTFC v Southport at Kenilworth road, Luton, they won 3:0 Mike Simmonds JR 48 26.11.13

It was the 30-year-old’s first goal of the season, and only his second in a Luton shirt, and puts him in pole position for the Hatters’ goal of the season award.

He admitted: “I don’t score many so it is the best goal of my career. I scored one when I was a youngster but it was nothing like that!”

“It was a great goal. It’s come to me on the edge of the box and I’ve had a lot of time to think about it.

“I’m just thinking to myself, hit it sweet and I did and it’s gone in.

“Obviously once it’s left my foot I know it’s going in, but it was just nice to get the win and get the three points and keep the momentum going.”

But once back in the changing rooms at half time he revealed he couldn’t remember anything about it.

“Do you know what, I said to the lads at half time, I can’t remember, I just remember hitting it,” he said.

“I don’t remember where it went in the net, nothing, so it’s always nice, but more pleased with the clean sheet.”

The rugged centre-half was in imperious form as he bossed the backline too despite having eight stitches in an eye wound from the weekend’s 2-1 win over Welling.

He said: “It was fine. It was just eight stitches, it was a cut. He wanted me to put a bit of a headband on it, but I wasn’t up for that.

“It is what it is. I give enough out so I’m big enough and ugly enough to take it. I give enough out so you’re going to get those wounds.”

Boss John Still was full of praise for the crowd favourite, and on his goal joked: “I’ve scored better! It’s a great strike wasn’t it, and you knew when he hit it it was a goal.

“You know when someone hits a ball and wherever you are you know it’s a goal, it was a goal.

“It was a fantastic strike from a person that put in a fantastic performance.”

Fellow goalscorer Jonathan Smith was also in awe of his strike, saying: “He’s hit that like a rocket, I mean he’s absolutely creamed that, top corner.

“I think he’s said in there that as soon as he hit it he knew it was in.

“That was a really important goal. The first goal of the game is massive and it was good that we managed to get that.

“When it’s come to him you’re usually thinking just help it back in, but he’s absolutely creamed in. Fair play to him, what a strike.”

The combative midfielder also produced a great finish from the edge of the box to make it 2-0, as he continued: “I think Andre Gray’s done really well because he has put it at a weight that I can just come on to it and hit it first time.

“Some players could hit that into you there and you’vee got to take a touch, and you can’t really get a shot off. But he’s made my mind up with the pass.

“The pass sometimes makes it because a weight like that your mind’s made up and you’ve got to hit it. Thankfully I caught it well and found the corner.”

The combative midfielder again impressed his boss, as Still said: “It was a good move, a good goal and Smudger’s been good for us this year, he really has, because he’s been playing in there with a young player.

“So he’s got two jobs, he’s got to teach someone and do the job himself, but if we keep teaching these young players, when they are 23, 24 they’ll be very, very experienced players and playing a lot higher I believe and we all hope they’ll be a lot higher with Luton Town.”

And a fantastic evening for the Hatters was rounded off late on when Gray fired home his 10th of the season.

Smith said: “I never doubt Andre, he’s a livewire and every time he gets the ball you think something’s going to happen and defenders are scared to death of him in this league and we’re hoping he can just keep that going because he’s done very well for us.”

Despite a slow start to the season, Still never doubted the deadly marksman, adding: “He’s done terrific. Not his best game today, but he’s a goalscorer.

“The one thing that’s pleased me with Andre, he started the season slow and we didn’t always play him, he never moaned, he just worked hard on the training ground and full credit to me and my staff, because we never pushed him, we never tried to get him to play when it wasn’t quite right for him and sometimes people lose confidence with that.

“We just spoke to him and explained to him, just keep playing, nothing’s wrong, it’s just sometimes it doesn’t start as quick for you as you would like.

“And gradually he’s got back in the team and he’s scoring goals.

“I think a catalyst for that is also Paul Benson if I’m being honest. I think his all-round play makes space for him, he talks to him and I think that’s been a big part of it and credit to Andre.”