Neilson urges players to start showing they want to win promotion

HATTERS assistant boss Alan Neilson has called on his players to show the desire and fight to win promotion this season after an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Braintree Town yesterday, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 8th April 2012, 9:46 am

Andre Gray netted his third goal in three games, but Town were well beaten by a home side who just appeared to want victory more than Luton.

The defeat saw Hatters remain three points away from the play-offs as Neilson said: “After that performance we don’t deserve to be in the top six or top five.

“The best thing now is we’ve got a game on Monday and we’ve got six cup finals left.

“We keep saying we’ve got seven, eight, nine cup finals left, we haven’t. We’ve got to show the desire. The situation is not lost, two or three wins and we’ll be right back up there.

“We do believe we’ve got the players to do it and the quality. If they fight and scrap for their places now, because looking at this performance, the players out of the squad can come knocking on the manager’s door.”

Town were second best for the majority of the clash against their far more direct and physical hosts, and it was something that surprised Neilson, who had tried to strengthen his side by recalling defender Shane Blackett.

He continued: “We’re extremely disappointed and said in the dressing room, we were just out-battled.

“I think myself, Cards (Paul Carden), Dimi (Kharine) and the players themselves expected a better performance, or fighting qualities, which we didn’t show.

“Too many players out there lost their battle on the pitch and if that happens on a pitch as bobbly as this, then you’re not going to win a football match.

“I came here last week to see them play. They’re a strong side, so we thought we’d go for the strongest side we could go with Shane coming in at left back, but it didn’t work and we weren’t strong enough.

“I wouldn’t say it was no passion or desire it was winning the battles. They were up for it, and I’ve always said when Luton Town come to any team, it’s their cup final and they’re up for it and we weren’t really up for it. When asked why his side didn’t show the required fighting spirit, Neilson continued: “We didn’t start how we wanted, we conceded a goal after four minutes.

“The goals we conceded were poor, two free kicks and they made it awkward for us. They really scrapped and fought and won the battles.

“When you come and watch these teams and then you see them play against Luton Town, they absolutely work hard and have got that extra 25 and sometimes 50 per cent, they work so hard.

“But we know that’s going to happen, we’re in our third year now. We have to scrap back. You look at the pitch here, it’s bobbly, it’s the worst pitch as a lot of managers have said, that we’ll play on this season.”

Hatters had a glorious chance with the scores at 1-1 to move 2-1 in front, when Aaron O’Connor was clean through, only to be denied by Iron keeper Nathan McDonald.

Neilson said: “We all know goals change games. Aaron has gone through, hit the target and the keepers has pulled off a good save.

“We could have gone into a 2-1 lead and I’m not blaming Aaron, but we have to take those chances.

“They they got a second from another free kick which George Pilkington hold his hands up as he should have been marking him.”

New manager Paul Buckle was in the stands, but had no input on the selection or at half time, but will be in charge for tomorrow’s home match with Hayes & Yeading.

Neilson added: “We met him on Friday, had a good chat, a two hour meeting.

“He left it all to myself, Cards and Dimi, we ran the team, but we said it’s your baby now, you can take it, and we’re just sorry we couldn’t take the baby to the well and make it happy.”

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