Stevenage take on Luton at Kenilworth Road: Read Boro boss Darren Sarll’s thoughts on derby day

PUBLISHED: 16:24 12 October 2017

Stevenage boss Darren Sarll. Pic Danny Loo

Stevenage boss Darren Sarll. Pic Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Stevenage take on neighbours Luton Town on Saturday. Read Boro boss Darren Sarll’s thoughts on the eagerly-awaited derby

On the Luton Town game...

“I just enjoy that it’s a proper football match, I enjoy the fact that Luton play a certain way and we play a certain way- you know you’re going to get a decent spectacle out of it. And we can all applaud, I like to think I always applaud- whether it’s intrinsically or extrinsically- good play. And we know Luton are going to play some good football, they always have done under Nathan (Jones).

“We know it’ll be a tactical game, it’ll be very intense, you throw in the derby, you throw in being at Kenilworth and the atmosphere it generates there. It’s always a good game and obviously, we’ve had some decent experiences there up until this point; we also know what it has taken to earn those experiences, those highlights across our season in the past. We’re very excited about it, very much looking forward to it but we do know it’ll be one of those tough games in the season’s fixtures.

“It’s a good game, you want to challenge yourself against the better sides and they’re certainly one of the better sides consistently in those top positions. And we’re striving as ever to stay in or catch up and get as high up the league table as we can and to do that you have to go away to teams currently in advance of you and you have to try and beat them.

“You know if I was a player Monday morning walking in, even though obviously we had the disappointing result Saturday, I’d be so enthused about the week, be so enthused being a player trying to get a shirt for that game- it really is one of those games where you want to play in and it naturally sharpens your focus and intensity because of the atmosphere and the build-up around it.

“We’ve been looking forward to this since Monday morning and it’s one of those games you look for, or certainly I look for, at the beginning of the season when the fixtures are released and we’ll go there, we’ll enjoy, we’ve had some decent experiences but that’s not to say we assumed those experiences are going to continue.

“We’re going to have to work very, very hard, be tactically very, very correct in order to come away with something from I don’t know, the biggest club in the league I would say in terms of its history and infrastructure and support; it’s right up there.”

On whether the former Luton players have an extra edge to win

“No, I think especially when you look at the likes of Ronnie (Henry), Jonathan (Smith), they’re natural winners and they have that same motivation and fire pretty much whatever the game, whatever the week.

“So I think that’s very natural and I think sometimes it’s the way you leave the club as well, the manner in which you’ve left the club you’re going back and playing against. If you’ve left the club correctly there’s normally no problem, if you’ve left the club incorrectly or under a bit of a cloud then sometimes it gives you that extra bit of motivation. We just look forward to it, I think the players know we’re gonna be in a proper football match, proper game, both teams are going to try pass the ball with some good players on both sides; it’s going to be a decent occasion and a decent game and a competitive one.

“It’s so important, so important that we concentrate on an identity and a strategy like we always do and we normally go and win it because the best teams really do go away from home, they go there to take three points, they’re expected to win. I think we’re at a place now at Stevenage where expectation has increased and we’re going to Luton where taking something from the game is an absolute necessity.”

On battling performance at Luton a couple years ago and whether there’s an extra edge to this game

“No, I don’t think we get extra at Luton I just think we’re ourselves and we’ve just had some good experiences there. For example last Saturday, the team covered more ground last Saturday than any other game this season and I thought we were poor so you can argue that they went above and beyond for me then but we didn’t come away with what we’d have liked to have come away with.

“It’s very seldom in League Two that you get a competition with an opponent in similar ways, you know normally in League Two you deal against very direct play, very abrasive, very confrontational. But you know when you play Luton, you know when you play Exeter, you know when you play Forest Green who are going to come here soon they pass the ball very well and you know at times you’re going to get some decent football matches, proper football matches that the players really want to play in and enjoy playing in.

“On the day we were very good and I think it was an 82nd-minute penalty by Michael (Tonge) because Ben (Kennedy) created it- he got tripped in the area. But you know that was quite a frightening time, that was a scary time, we’d just taken a point at Oxford and we were 21st, 22nd in the league maybe and it was a terrific performance tactically that day and we managed to get the pen late on and sort of just see the game out.

“The pressure on that game was massive, you know all the little bits around it of being a derby making sure you send your fans home with pride. There was still that cloud over us whether we were going to be a Conference side or a Football league side; there was real pressure, jobs at stake pressure. But we were great that day and last year it was sort of one or two of the best performances of the year when we went there last year. I can’t subscribe to it being we’re playing Luton away at Kenilworth Road, I can just say I think the player just enjoy the fact they’re going to get a proper test and a proper football match and I think we all get enthused by that at this standard.”

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