Jones on 'surreal' experience of winning promotion at Carlisle
Luton chief Nathan Jones admitted it was a '˜surreal' experience winning promotion with a 1-1 draw at Carlisle United on Saturday.
The Hatters knew that a win would be enough to ensure they were in League One next season, and after pulling level through Olly Lee’s equaliser on 62 minutes, news immediately filtered through that Crawley Town had equalised at Exeter City, making it 2-2.
That scenario was enough to take Luton up, and when the final whistle blown at St James Park, there was still five minutes for Town to hold on.
That they did, sparking wonderful scenes at the end, as Jones confirmed he always had one ear on what was going on elsewhere.
The boss said: “It is a surreal feeling and it's weird, as we had a free kick late on and didn’t know to say to them take it to the corner, or do we put it in the box and try and score the winner or what?
“We tried to get the message on to them that Exeter had finished and it was enough.
“We did know, Darren (Cook) the kit man had a phone, otherwise we’d have gone for the win, so we kind of stuck rather than twist.
“We knew that a point was good enough. Ironically, if we’d have lost it still would have been good enough as the goal difference is massive, but we’d rather done it mathematically than just rely on that, and the uncertainty going into those games.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have six promotions, five as a player and one now as a manager and it’s brilliant, it really is.
“For the neutral it’s even better, but for us, and we’ve come to a difficult place as these, with the players they’ve got, are a really difficult side to come up against.
"They’ve got good experience, got talent within the whole squad, and we’ve had to come here and do it the real hard way.”
Town had to withstand a mini bombardment in the final seconds, with Carlisle throwing keeper Jack Bonham up for stoppage time corner.
It was reminiscent of earlier in the season when Cheltenham Town stopper Ross Flinders helped his side to a last-gasp leveller, as Jones said: “We’re thinking good as we’ve had to deal with it before.
"So when we debriefed and went through scenarios and said if this happens in the future. So you're standing there thinking lets see if they’ve learned, and everyone picked up.
"Before people didn’t and everyone just latched on, this time, ball came in, one header, it was over, so I'm delighted, absolutely delighted.”