Hatters boss backs his Town players to react positively to Haaland-inspired drubbing

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Town have to bounce back against Villa on Saturday

Luton boss Rob Edwards has backed his side to have a positive reaction to last night’s FA Cup thrashing at the hands of an Erling-Haaland inspired Manchester City when they go up against Aston Villa in a massive game for the club’s Premier League survival hopes this weekend.

Town were handed their biggest defeat since losing 7-0 at Fulham in May 2022 yesterday evening, while it was the first time they have conceded six on home soil for almost 30 years, Sheffield United running out 6-3 winners in a Division One game back in December 1994, as they felt the full force of the Norwegian international who was simply unstoppable on the night, along with architect in chief Kevin De Bruyne, who added four assists.

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A look at the history books shows Town have a good record at bouncing back from such results, as following the hammering at Craven Cottage, they beat Reading 1-0, while the Blades defeat led to a goalless draw at home to Derby County. They were also thumped 7-0 by Brentford in November 2019, going on to defeat Wigan 2-1 in a thrilling contest next up courtesy of George Moncur’s memorable winner.

Jordan Clark tries to rally the home crowd after making it 3-2 last night - pic: Liam SmithJordan Clark tries to rally the home crowd after making it 3-2 last night - pic: Liam Smith
Jordan Clark tries to rally the home crowd after making it 3-2 last night - pic: Liam Smith

With that in mind, Edwards has just a few days to pick his side up from the hefty loss, as they begin a top flight run-in that sees them entertain a Villains side who are after a top four slot themselves and on the a run of two wins from two, with a red-hot striker of their own in Ollie Watkins who has bagged 20 goals already this term, as he strengthens his claims for an England call-up.

However, the Town chief has backed his side to quickly put the FA Cup exit behind them, as he said: “I hope it doesn’t have a negative effect. I’m always going to come out and try and back the team and try and be bullish, say what I think are the right things, but then time will tell now how we react and knowing this group the way I do, I think they’ll react in the right way.

“We’ve got some really good leaders in there, lads who know how big the games are coming up and tonight, we’ve been hit by an amazing team, arguably the best team in the world, one of the best teams I’ve probably ever seen, and there’s no shame in that. There will be bits, and it’s on me, the areas that we can improve and work on, so we’ll work really hard to try and rectify that quickly, but I don't see it knocking this group.

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"We’ve got to make sure we use it to get better and not to allow it to feel sorry for ourselves as if you do that in this league then you are done, and we’re not done at the moment, we’re not. We’re in with that fighting chance that we’ve talked about, so let's learn and make sure that we get better rather than feel sorry for ourselves. This group have shown that time after time, we can’t ever give up. If you do against a team like that then they’re ruthless and they keep going, and they were tonight. A tough night for us, but it’s not going to diminish our confidence and our belief in what we’re trying to do."

One thing that Luton do need to do, and quickly, is become far harder to score against, as since their thumping 4-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion, they have now shipped 19 goals in just five games, including four against both Newcastle and Liverpool. However, going up against the likes of Haaland, De Bruyne and co, plus facing a Reds side who are involved in a three-horse race for the league title, is something that Edwards wants his team to learn from once more.

He continued: “We’ve got to try and see this game and Wednesday, these two games, as opportunities to learn. That’s the level, that’s elite, that’s the best we’ve come up against, how can this make us better? And again we’re not going to come up against them every single week. I know we’re going to come up against a really good team in Aston Villa on Saturday who I went to watch on the weekend and they were brilliant, so it doesn’t get much easier, but we try and take some of the positives going forward.”

One positive on the night were two terrific strikes for midfielder Jordan Clark, his first goals since the Championship play-off final victory over Coventry City in May. The opener was a quite stunning curler into the top corner that left City stopper Stefan Ortega motionless, while his second wasn't too bad either, taking Ross Barkley’s terrific lofted pass and clinically smashing into the roof of the net.

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Edwards added: “They were both brilliant goals weren’t they and at 3-2 you’re thinking, okay, we know they’re going to get chances still, it’s just whether we can keep them out and maybe get one or two of our own. The fourth one was a blow so soon after getting it to 3-2, but Clicker’s goals were great, it was nice to see the fans celebrating those moments at least.”