Luton V Blackpool at Kenilworth Road : Match Preview

17 May 2017

Nathan Jones hopes Luton can hold their nerve to reach League Two play-off final

Luton boss Nathan Jones hopes his side can hold their nerve on Thursday night in the second leg of their Sky Bet League Two play-off semi-final against Blackpool.

The Hatters must overturn a 3-2 deficit from Sunday's first leg at Bloomfield Road and Jones expects the side who makes the least mistakes in a Kenilworth Road "cauldron" will progress to the Wembley final.

"They're strange nights," Jones told the club's official website. "It's just who handles the pressure, who takes their chances, who makes less mistakes, all that wonderful stuff because it's a shoot-out.

"It's not like we can play for a draw, no, it's pretty much winner takes all for us."

Jones quit as first-team coach at Brighton in January last year to take on his first managerial role, succeeding John Still and steering the club away from relegation.

The Welshman made wholesale changes in the summer and - after guiding them to a fourth-placed finish - stands two games away from promotion in his first full season.

"We've got a full house," he added. "We've sold out. We've taken most of Blackpool's tickets as well so it's going to be a Luton cauldron and that's what we want.

"We want to make sure we handle that because it's going to be a wonderful night.

"These are the nights when you want to be a manager and a player."

Blackpool forward Mark Cullen converted a second-half penalty on Sunday to complete his hat-trick and give his side a one-goal advantage.

The Seasiders had clinched the last play-off place by beating Leyton Orient at home on the final day of the regular season and manager Gary Bowyer revealed club legend Jimmy Armfield's support had proved invaluable.

Bowyer, also in his first full season in charge, told the club's official website: "He's been fantastic for me ever since I've arrived - the first day I was here he rang me up and wished me all the best.

"We then met at the training ground and had a good chat down there.

"He talks with so much passion about the football club and throughout the season he's given me his advice and advised me where I can get better myself, which has been greatly received."

Former Blackpool and England captain Armfield, 81, whose statue outside Bloomfield Road was unveiled in 2011, was on the phone to Bowyer again after Sunday's narrow first-leg win.

"He rang me before the game and we had a chat about it, then he was on the phone on Monday morning giving me his feedback because unfortunately he wasn't able to come and see it," Bowyer added.

"He was able to watch it on the TV and gave me a few hints and tips. He told me what to do."

While Jones is keeping his cards close to his chest with regards to injuries in the squad, but Kyle Vassell is expected to return for Bowyer despite limping off in the first leg.

The top-scorer is set to be assessed once more but Bowyer admitted he expects his star striker to be fit to feature.

Source: PAR