Cocu: Goal against Luton is Lawrence giving something back to Derby

The Wales midfielder has been charged with drink-driving following an incident last month.

By Press Association Published: 5 October 2019 - 5.35pm

Derby manager Phillip Cocu said Tom Lawrence had “given something back” after he scored against Luton less than two weeks after being involved in a drink-driving incident.

The Wales international beat Simon Sluga with a cross after the Luton goalkeeper also gifted Derby the opening goal to Matty Pearson.

Lawrence, who will – along with team-mate Mason Bennett – attend court on October 15 to answer a drink-driving charge, had been booed by some home fans but there were cheers when he scored.

Cocu said: “I am glad Tom got his goal today.

“We have to move on, we have to stick together, and this helps. It is important for him, and it is important for the team as well.

“Like we said, and I think they (the fans) are also clear about it, they accept what the club announced but then it is also time to move on and get them back in the team and support them. The crowd and the fans did, and I was happy about that.

“I spoke to him today like I did on Wednesday and there’s a lot on the mind of the players of course so this is something we don’t underestimate but he feels free when he’s on the pitch, in training or in a game.

“I asked him, ‘if I put you on, can you play?’ and he said yes. If he couldn’t he would tell me he said. It’s good for him that he scored a goal and he worked so hard for the team.

“This is the way he tries to give something back, not only to the team but to everybody.”

Bennett was not in the squad and Cocu said: “Mason is a different character to Tom.

“So I think for him with everything that is going on it was better to give him some rest.”

Luton manager Graeme Jones admitted Sluga’s mistakes had made the difference.

“I think the game was a 1-1 game or a 0-0, there was very little difference in shots on target or off target,” he said.

“I expected James (Collins) to tap in first half but you can’t legislate for those kind of errors. I can’t defend him, we got beat 2-0 because of two goalkeeping errors.

“That’s what happened, it’s life as a goalkeeper. I gave my opinion at the end of the game because I’ve got 13 other boys to think about who gave their heart and soul.

“Honestly I’ve never seen two goals like that in my life. Simon goes away with the Croatian national team and it might do him the world of good to have a break from everybody.

“He’s made two errors today that were plain for everybody to see.”