Saturday, June 3, 2023

Tony Mowbray prepared for tough challenge in play-off clash with Luton

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 12 May 2023


Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray is keen not to underestimate Luton as the two teams prepare to meet in the Championship play-off semi-final.

Helped by Blackburn’s victory against Millwall, the Black Cats sneaked into sixth place in the table while the Hatters finished third.

Both sides have recent play-off experience, with Sunderland promoted into the second tier with a win against Wycombe in last year’s League One play-offs.

However, Luton missed out on the chance to earn Premier League promotion after being beaten in last season’s semi-finals by Huddersfield, but Mowbray insisted the Hatters will be aiming to “put that right”.

He said: “(Luton) had (a play-off run) last year as well, it’s sometimes easy to have a narrative of ‘little Luton’ but they were in the play-offs last year as well so they’ll have the experience of the play-offs.

“They’ll be disappointed they didn’t get through the play-offs last year but they’ll be trying to put that right this year.

“These games are all big games and the mentality of our group has been – because of the injuries, because of the adversity – to express ourselves, play as we play, do what we’re good at and see where it takes us.

“I don’t see a reason to change that, this weekend, the game itself is a big game. The coverage, it’s the post-season, go and express yourself, go and show everybody who’s watching your individual talent, your collective talent and see if we can get a result against a team who’ve done exceptionally well.”

The first leg takes place in front of a sell-out crowd at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, but both clubs face a difficult test as their two meetings in the Championship this season have both ended in 1-1 draws.

The most recent clash came in March when Amad Diallo’s late penalty cancelled out Alfie Doughty’s second-half strike, and Mowbray knows how tough a team the Hatters are.

“As I said seven or eight weeks ago when we played them, you could feel they’re difficult to break down,” he said.

“They were a very strong, very robust, a very athletic team and at times leaving man-for-man at the back, pushing in and leading a high press.

“It takes you out of your rhythm really, so it’s going to be a difficult game and I think all of these games we shouldn’t look at 90 minutes on Saturday; even if we’re winning, losing or drawing there’s another 90 minutes.”


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