Edwards pleased with Luton's response as Hatters overturn a first half deficit to beat Boro

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Lockyer and Morris score as Town hit back after the interval

​Hatters boss Rob Edwards praised his side’s response as they came back from a goal down for the second game running at home to triumph 2-1 against Middlesbrough on Monday night.

As they had done in the 3-1 victory over Blackpool recently, Town conceded the opener in the first half, breached in disappointing fashion, keeper Ethan Horvath losing out tamely to visiting striker Cameron Archer when trying to reach Matt Crooks’ forward pass.

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The attacker then easily danced round ​a last-ditch attempt from skipper Sonny Bradley to walk the ball into the net, giving Michael Carrick’s side a deserved advantage.

Town skipper Sonny Bradley makes a challenge against Middlesbrough on Monday nightTown skipper Sonny Bradley makes a challenge against Middlesbrough on Monday night
Town skipper Sonny Bradley makes a challenge against Middlesbrough on Monday night

However, it all changed in the second period, Luton stepping their game up to level four minutes in through Tom Lockyer’s header, before Carlton Morris was felled by keeper Zack Steffen for a penalty that he converted just after the hour mark.

With both sides already securing a top six berth last week, Carrick opted to make five changes, leaving top scorer Chuba Akpom on the bench, as Town resisted the urge, just one alteration from the 1-1 draw with Reading, Elijah Adebayo replacing the injured Cauley Woodrow.

Speaking afterwards, Edwards said: “It was good, credit to the lads, I thought the response was really good.

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“Middlesbrough showed how good they are, the job that he's done, Michael with his staff, that group of players, they've done a really good job and that's obvious, everyone knows that, everyone's seen that.

“When you go up against them, you can see the quality that they have.

"They overload you, they've got threats in behind like the goal, and they can build short as well.

"So they’ve got a number of threats and a few not involved on the bench that they can bring into the team.

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“It was always going to be a really tough game and also a mindset thing as well, both teams knew they were in the play-offs.

"You can see they’re thinking one or two changes, we thought we’d do it in-game and try and manage our players in-game, so there’s different ways of going about it, but I was pleased with the response.

“We showed some good things, but I do think we could be better.”

With Boro easily winning the midfield battle during the opening 45 minutes, Edwards made sure his side got their press right after the interval to prevent the visitors being able to retain possession in the manner they had done so beforehand.

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He continued: “We know that’s the shape of the team they can make and they can adapt to whatever way you press and they can find spaces.

"With Crooks dropping in our centre backs just got to go and we’ve got to try and be aggressive, but we know that could then leave spaces behind as well, so it’s just a bit of a game of cat and mouse.

"When we’re at our best, we’re a very aggressive team, on the front foot, not thinking as much that way (behind), its lets go.

"People can’t break the chain, if someone goes and presses, the next ones got to go, next ones got to go.

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"It’s got to happen at the same speed, so a few adjustments at half time, not much.

"The lads knew there was one or two bits we could be better in, and our quality needed to be better as well, especially when we got into the final third.

"We had some decent moments in the first half, the space was there.

"There were some good movements from the strikers but we just didn’t find them with that final pass, so we needed a little bit more quality in the second half.”

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Town did have that extra quality after the break that Edwards had been yearning for, Alfie Doughty’s corner headed in by Lockyer, with Morris notching Luton’s first successful spotkick in the Championship this term.

The boss wasn’t afraid to ring the changes too, five of them in fact, with a senior debut for 17-year-old Joe Johnson, while Luke Berry was a man possessed, with one stunning goal-saving challenge in the closing stages.

On the second 45, Edwards added: "You need the set-pieces, you need to be a threat.

"We have been a threat, you look at the expected goals we’ve had from set-pieces, chances created, it's just not gone over the line for us.

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"We’ve had a couple recently, that was a great header tonight, real quality from Alfie, well worked, created the space for Tom and he finished it really well.

“What was really pleasing was we were able to make five subs.

"We had to try and get our in-game management right, Luke Berry’s tackle in the box, what a tackle that was, that’s as important as a goal.

"The lads coming on and affecting it like that, young JJ coming on and getting his debut, doing really, really well against as tough an opposition as you’re going to get.

"So we’re pleased with how we managed to manage the group and still win the game.”