From Barnsley to Birmingham
This article featured in the official Luton Town matchday programme for the game against Sheffield United (28/8/21), in the 'Dylan's Diary' column.
Football really is a game that that stretches the emotional resilience of all of those involved. After Tuesday night’s disciplined display at Barnsley to eke out as good a 1-0 victory on the road as one could get, the Hatters put in a performance four days later that made that win seem like a distant memory.
The Hatter’s midweek win in Yorkshire had all the hallmarks of a motivated, athletic, and tactically intelligent group of players who could do the basics to win football matches.
It didn’t matter that Luton only had 30% of the ball. The urgency to fight and willingness to put their bodies on the line was combined with a structured defensive display where everyone did their jobs and understood how their role interacted and supported with their teammates – the method in which the Hatters stifled Barnsley’s wing-backs in Callum Styles and Callum Brittain being the casing point.
So, after recording a strong victory on the road, the Hatters looked well set to return to home comforts and build some momentum going into the international break. What ensued was a difficult ninety minutes where the Hatters looked a shadow of the side who beat Barnsley a few days before.
"Never too high, never too low"
“Never too high, never too low” was one of the great John Still’s many catchphrases that so often encapsulated the mood at Kenilworth Road, and that sentiment couldn’t be more applicable than now. Losing 5-0 at home is hugely disappointing but earning six points from their opening four
matches is a decent return for the Hatters, particularly given the volume of new faces and the absence of key players such as Sonny Bradley, Jordan Clark and Henri Lansbury.
The way that the fans reacted at half-time to the players as they trailed 2-0 showed that this group has the full belief and confidence of the fans. At clubs with less togetherness and spirit boos would have rung out, but the players were greeted at half-time by fans who wanted to be
part of the solution and not the problem, getting behind the players and showing the confidence that they had in them. It’s a stark contrast to the last time Birmingham were in town before the pandemic began.
This Luton squad showed what they were capable of in midweek – it wasn’t a fluke that the Hatters performed to that level. As Town fans know, football is a crazy game where inexplicable things can happen, but remaining on the straight and narrow and remembering how far this football club has come is the key to giving this young group of players the confidence that they deserve.
There’s no questioning their ability to drive this club forwards.