Luton chief calls for a 'reality check' after Town earn stoppage time win over Latics
Hatters boss Graeme Jones called for a ‘reality check’ after his side picked up a dramatic 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic yesterday.
With three minutes to go, it had looked like Town were going to suffer a major blow to their Championship survival hopes, trailing 1-0 to their fellow relegation rivals.
However, substitute Callum McManaman netted against his former club and then fellow replacement George Moncur won it with almost the last kick to send Kenilworth Road into utter bedlam.
It moved Luton up a place to 20th in the table, leapfrogging Huddersfield, as they moved four points clear of Wigan and further ahead of the bottom two Stoke and Barnsley, who both lost.
What made the result even more impressive is that it came after a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Brentford last weekend, as Jones said: “The manager carries the burden and it’s been a demanding week, it’s been a test, but that’s why I wanted to stop being an assistant and become a manager.
“I kept telling myself, you’ve got to find solutions, that’s the job, but I need to reiterate a few things.
“We’ve got 20 points from 20 games, we’ve got the worst budget in the league, this is a really, really tough job.
“Now we’ve been tested and it’s moments like today that the players come through, the board of directors come through, because they’ve stood by me all week, the supporters come through.
“You earn the right to stay in the league on moments like today, but there’ll be other tough moments in every single game.
“It’s not about blame, everybody is giving everything they’ve got.
"Energy levels are through the roof at this football club and I need to put it out there, because when it goes horribly wrong as it did last week, there’s a lot of stick flies round and rightly so.
“Nobody wants patting on the back or expects pats on the back after a 7-0 defeat, and I’m the first one who wouldn’t want that.
“But we need to have a quick reality check, we’re on December the seventh now, 20 games in, 20 points, that’s outstanding for where we are a club.
“So big lessons from this week is, we might have to take a few on the chin, it’s how you respond.
“This club are the best in all four divisions at responding, because of what they’ve been through in the last 10 years, so I’d like to take stock at this point if you don’t mind and a bit of realism because it’s not easy for everybody.”
There had been some frustrated home supporters at half time as Town swapped ends with a 1-0 deficit.
That increased during the second period Luton remained patient in their approach play, often taking short goal-kicks, even when behind in the closing stages.
It was all part of the plan though according to Jones, who insisted patience and hope will be necessities from the terraces at Kenilworth Road this term.
He continued: “I asked for that as if we go long like Wigan do, Wigan are better at it than us and it’s always about the mixture in your play.
“Now if you’re talking about showing character, courage, courage is defined when you’re fearful, and you’ve still got the character and courage to do that.
“That was immensely satisfying, maybe, just maybe we won the game because of that as we didn’t end up predictable, we didn’t end up playing into Wigan's hands.
“We should never lose hope, especially here, everybody moves with the times, but we need to remember where we were.
“I think sometimes you forget, we got promoted out of League Two 18 months ago, and then not to be able to buy yourself a bit more armoury, so we all need to be realistic.
“I’m very proud sitting here on 20 points from 20 games, I can assure you, if we maintain that between now and the end of the season, we’ll be fine.”
Despite victorious, Jones knows that there is still a whole lot to do to ensure Luton remain in the second tier this term, adding: “It’s not going to define the season, we need to be competitive in every game, and picking up points.
“I said to the boys, we’ve had 20 games now, there’s no surprises.
"Three games left (before playing all 23 teams), so that little bit of unknown of what’s coming, we now know what the league is.
“Last week was a benchmark of ‘look lads, we don’t have anything to fear, it’s not going to get much worse than that,’ so I’m satisfied.”