Luke David Berry
This article featured in the official Luton Town matchday programme for the game against Swansea City (18/9/21), in the 'Dylan's Diary' column.
“We always worked on the values that if our wide players found space, Uche [Ikpeazu] needed to get away from the play, because what that allows is two centre-halves to focus on the big man.”
“And that’s where the key component…would be Luke Berry. We always knew that Luke Berry could work his way on the back of their midfield.”
“Luke always seemed to find space.”
Those were the words spoken by former Cambridge United manager Shaun Derry talking to Coaches Voice in May 2018 when describing his side’s 4-0 FA Cup win over Coventry City in 2016.
Berry scored all four that day in United’s FA Cup upset, but five years on those words could’ve been used to describe his last gasp heroics at Ewood Park on Saturday: Cameron Jerome “getting away from the play” to draw both centre-halves, with Berry working off the back of their midfield with a late run from deep to secure the knock down and smash home and spark pandemonium amongst the Hatters fans behind the goal.
The opening goal was just as impressive, with his quick double movement on the edge of the box drawing away the opposition right back, stealing a yard that allowed him to dart inside and poke home at the near post. Fine margins, small details.
"Luke always seemed to find space" - Shaun Derry
At Championship level Berry has never been a ‘flashy’ player – he’s not someone who does things that are easily noticed, unlike a Fred Onyedinma 1v1 dribble or an Elijah Adebayo powerful header at the back post.
The things that Luke Berry does brilliantly are the small details. An understanding of space both in and between both boxes, how to attack it, how to time his runs and finding tight pockets of space to work in and get on second balls. Without the ball, he shows intensity and fitness levels that are through the roof, but most importantly his game understanding is once again excellent. He consistently understands when he should and shouldn’t press, the angles that he presses at are spot on and his body shape is usually excellent.
That’s what Luke Berry brings to this Luton Town squad – a breadth of skills that nobody else can offer in his position.
It’s no coincidence that both of Berry’s goals came from late runs from deep. Both of his goals last season came from those situations, stealing in against Derby County to meet an Elliott Lee cross and displaying that trademark double movement to get in front of Darragh Lenihan at home to Blackburn Rovers.
He’s not going to get fifteen goals from midfield and be our best player this season. But Berry gives the Hatters something different and in a game of fine margins, he will be an important weapon in Luton’s quest for Championship stability.