Jones warns ‘naive’ Town players they must be better if they want to feature for Luton following cup exit
Luton chief Nathan Jones warned the players who took to the field for last night’s Carabao Cup first round defeat to League Two Newport County that they need to be better if they want to make a mark on Town’s Championship XI.
The Hatters boss made 11 changes from the team who had gained an impressive 1-1 draw at Burnley on Saturday, naming just two out and out defenders in the starting line-up, with Tom Lockyer and Reece Burke either side of Henry Lansbury in the back three.
Dion Pereira and Carlos Mendes Gomes were makeshift wing-backs, with Louie Watson making his debut in a midfield that contained Luke Berry and Admiral Muskwe, Cauley Woodrow and Cameron Jerome leading the line.
However, despite dominating the opening 30 minutes, taking the lead through Mendes Gomes’ wonder strike from 35 yards, Town were quickly pegged back when some slack defending saw Lewis Collins fire past Matt Macey.
Town were back in front five minutes into the second period when Lockyer picked out the top corner, but that was short-lived too, Chanka Zimba shooting through Macey to equalise.
The Luton stopper was then at fault for the winner with 15 minutes remaining as once Woodrow was dispossessed, he couldn’t hold Zimba’s low shot, allowing James Waite to turn in.
It wasn’t good enough for Jones, who said: “I’m disappointed as I thought we did enough.
“We had enough opportunities first half, the goal’s a clear foul, then just defending.
“We’re very good out of possession, we’re one of the best sides in the Championship out of possession, we are, and I’ve said that in there.
“I think one or two of them today were very, very naive, very naive in certain aspects of their play that allowed Newport to win the game.
“Collectively I thought for large periods of the game we were excellent, it’s just moments in the game.
“First goal is a foul, second goal Admiral Muskwe has tried to dribble the ball out, then he’s had to kick it out, then he’s let his man go, then they’ve gone through and scored.
“Then again we’ve played inside, given the ball away, Louie Watson gets skipped round, goalkeeper fumbles it, so some catastrophic errors there for us and we don’t normally do that.
“We’re very tight in Championship games.
“Against Burnley on the weekend, Burnley had the lowest expected goals in the Championship at the weekend as we’re one of the best teams and we defend properly, and we didn’t defend properly today.
“We gave the ball away too easily, too cheaply, naively and then allowed them to score.
“We don’t to that, that’s not how Luton Town go about their business.
“We pride ourselves on that, the group that played tonight have to get up to that level otherwise they don’t play.
“Those players know that if they want to play for Luton Town they’ve got to be better out of possession, because we are as good as anyone out of possession.
“Today, with the greatest of respect, I don’t think I’ve conceded three goals against Newport in the duration of my time here, so to do it in one game is very disappointing.”
Although he made 11 alterations for the contest, Jones didn’t think that should be used as any kind of excuse for their second exit to fourth tier opposition at this stage of the competition for the second year running.
He continued: “They’re here, they’re training, they believe they should get opportunities, they believe that they should be in the team.
“I thought Elliot Thorpe when he came on was absolutely outstanding, I thought a few individuals first half were good, we controlled the game, we had no issue whatsoever, absolutely no issue in the game, but certain things happened.
“There were a lot of individuals out there who could just do a little bit better, but it’s a great learning curve for them.
“It’s a real good test, as Newport came and were a real, real good test, they’ll be better for it, but we also know that maybe one of two were a little bit off.
“We have to better, as with the greatest respect we don’t concede three at home, that hasn’t happened, we don’t concede three goals at home.
“There must be a reason for that, yes it’s a makeshift team, but these are players that want to play for Luton Town, so if they want to play for Luton Town, they’ve got to be better out of possession.”