Still delighted by FA Cup progression as Cards target Town’s late change

Progression in the FA Cup with a clean sheet couldn’t have been any better according to Luton Town boss John Still, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 27th October 2013, 11:36 am
Tamworth v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 43.
Tamworth v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 43.

Mark Cullen’s first half header from a corner was enough to give the Hatters a 1-0 win at Woking in what was a tricky fourth qualifying round tie on Saturday.

And having tweaked his side from the previous week’s 4-3 win at Tamworth, making a total of six changes, Still was pleased on so many levels.

He said: “Away from home in the FA Cup, particularly against a team from your level, and we were here just a little while ago weren’t we, so it’s not always the ideal situation.

“We’ve worked hard, and just changed it around a little bit to give people some time, but sometimes when you change it you lose a little bit of cohesion so I didn’t think we had as much cohesion as we normally have.

“But we’ve gone back to conceding no goals, which is good, I was pleased for Elliot (Justham) in goal.

“I thought he’s done every so well, I’m pleased for Charlo who’s been out a long, long time, was really, really pleased for him so I was happy with that.

“Matt Robinson’s not had any time so I was happy with that, Dave Martin’s not had any time so I was happy with that.

“They’ve just got some time and away from home, FA Cup, don’t concede any goals, get through to the next round, it can’t be any better than that.”

However, Still’s preparations were thrown into disarray just before kick off when Scott Griffiths hurt his knee in the warm-up and he had to add Martin into the starting XI and move Jake Howells back to left-back.

On Griffiths, Still said: “He was OK, he felt OK, but when he was warming up he just felt his knee a little bit and he possibly could have played, but I didn’t want to take the chance.

“Miss one, I think it’s really, really important that people play fit and Howellsy went in there and did very, very well so that was quite pleasing.

“It wasn’t something we envisaged but these things happen.”

And he revealed that if he had known in advance he would have been without Griffiths, he may well not have made so many other changes, but was delighted with the way his ‘rusty’ players coped.

Still continued: “As I said in the week, I wouldn’t pick a team that I didn’t think could win the football match, it’s really important that I didn’t do that.

“I wouldn’t pick, and think ‘I’m not sure about this’, I picked the team I felt could win the game.

“I knew one or two would be rusty. I know Charlo (Anthony Charles) was going to be rusty, because he hasn’t played enough.

“I knew Dave Martin was going to be rusty, he hasn’t played enough, and Matt Robinson we knew they were going to be rusty because they haven’t played enough football.

“You get to a stage where you think to yourself, these players might be called on at any other time.

“And I just think with the way we structured the team, we could actually cater for it.

“What we didn’t realise obviously was that we had to change the left-back position.

“I’m not sure I would have gone with Charlo if I knew the left-back wasn’t playing, because it’s not fair on him and by making too many changes, it wouldn’t be fair on the goalkeeper coming in behind a back four that know each other inside out.

“So I was a little bit concerned when the situation with Scott Griffiths came up, but we dealt with it very well so I was pleased with that.”

And Sill believes the Cards deliberately targeted the left-hand side of their defence because of all the changes they had made at the back.

On how difficult Woking had made their progression on the day, Still added: “Absolutely, and I give them every credit. They played quite direct, they got it into us, got around us.

“I think that after once the first half hour had gone, I think we had adjusted to the players that we had in the team.

“I think that the second half we were relatively unscathed, but everyone had to defend well, particularly Charlo.

“Because I think they targeted the left-hand side of our defence because he’s been out for a long time and what with the change at left-back.

“So I think they targeted that area and I’ve got to be honest, I thought that both of those two got stronger as the game went on, particularly with Charlo having got booked in the first half.

“I was a little bit wary of that and going through my mind to make a change there if I’m being honest, but he got stronger in the second half, so that was pleasing.

“So they targeted that area with some diagonals and some high balls, but second half I think we ended up pretty comfortable, not easy, but comfortable.”