Still admits tactical gamble against Wings didn’t pay off

Hatters boss John Still admitted he took a gamble with his formation during the 2-1 win over Welling on Saturday, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 25th November 2013, 4:00 pm
Shaun Whalley was recalled for Town on Saturday
Shaun Whalley was recalled for Town on Saturday

Without the suspended Jonathan Smith, Town changed from the 4-3-3 line-up they have so often gone with at Kenilworth Road for a 4-4-2.

In came Shaun Whalley on the wing, while midfielder Jim Stevenson was chosen alongside Andy Parry as Still said: “I wanted to pick a game where I played with two out and out wingers, I needed to have a look.

“Sometimes people come to Luton, home or away and change their system slightly, go to an extra man in midfield to make it difficult for us.

“That’s why I always look at different ways to play because if something comes up, we need to be ready to be able to counteract and fortunately that’s what we’ve been able to do.

“It probably didn’t work as well as I’d have liked, which I don’t think was the fault of those playing.

“We lost a holding midfielder with Smudge (Jonathan Smith) and brought an attacking midfield player in with Jim.

“Probably with two wingers, we need two holding players, as I don’t think our balance was quite right.

“We messed about with our balance in the end and went with the three with Luke (Guttridge) in there, which is perfect for us.

“But I’m always trying to see what we can do because there’s going to be times when we have to do something different.”

On Stevenson’s display, Still continued: “I know Jim is a good attacking player from midfield, he’s had a couple of opportunities and done quite well.

“I just wanted to have a look with two wide players, whether it could work with an attacking midfield player as well, and I don’t think it did.

“I might do it again and it might work, he might have learned from that Jim, but you probably need two defensive players when you play that way, so I wasn’t sure if it worked.

“The crazy thing is if Paul (Benson) scores and Jim scores with a header, everyone, including me, says it works.

“To a certain extent, I’m not going to say I’m glad it didn’t work, but it showed me what might happen if we can’t get it right, would we be a bit bare there and the answer is possibly yes.

“In a tight game, it probably wouldn’t be something that I’d do again.

“Fortunately when we made the change we got on top and just about deserved to edge it.”

As assistant Terry Harris had done so in the post match press conference, Still thought Welling were the better team for periods of the game.

He also felt that Town struggled to get to grips with being back at home again once more.

Still added: “I didn’t think that we played as well as we have done, and I had a feeling having been away from home for a little while, there was a bit of nervousness playing back at home, as silly as it sounds, I felt that might be the case and think it was the case.

“From a good start we could have been 3-0 up, Benno’s (Paul Benson) put one past the post. Jim Stevenson had a good header saved by the goalkeeper that probably he should have done better.

“Whether that felt like a reprieve for them, I don’t know, for the last 15 minutes of the first half they had more of the ball than us, without looking overly threatening.

“For the first 15-20 minutes of the second half, that half an hour period, I thought they were very much in the game.

“I thought it was a resilient performance where over the course of the season, you’re not going to play great every week, but you’ve got to produce enough chances to win every week and I think we just about produced enough chances.”