Hylton: Beating the drop easily rivals winning promotion with Luton

Town striker reveals Hatters' players always felt they could avoid relegation

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 7th August 2020, 8:55 am
Updated Friday, 7th August 2020, 9:02 am
Danny Hylton celebrates staying up with a 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers
Danny Hylton celebrates staying up with a 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers

Luton striker Danny Hylton believes that staying in the Championship last term easily rivals his previous achievements with the Hatters.

It’s been something of a roller coaster four seasons at Kenilworth Road for the 31-year-old forward, who signed in the summer of 2016, agreeing a new two year deal this week.

First he experienced play-off heartache, losing in the semi-finals to Blackpool, before Town won promotion out of League Two, finishing second to Accrington Stanley.

Luton then went back-to-back, sealing the League One title in the 2018-19 campaign, before pulling off a dramatic last day escape to stay in the Championship, beating Blackburn 3-2 on the final day recently.

Looking back, Hylton said: “The promotions were unbelievable, they were amazing times, and staying up was probably as good as that, but because there were no fans, you didn’t get that rush, or that high.

“But, if you look step back, and we’ve had a few weeks to think about it and reflect on it, staying in the Championship, when we were six points adrift was easily on par with the promotions, for sure, because it was a fantastic achievement.

“It would’ve been made a little bit more special if we’d have had 10,000 fans in there, but it was a fantastic achievement. “

Hatters looked dead and buried when the season resumed after lockdown, trailing fourth bottom by six points, seven if you included their goal difference as well.

However, Hylton revealed there was a searing belief within the squad that they could avoid the drop, even with just nine games to go.

He said: “Normally, you tell yourself, 'we can do it' and there might be a little bit of doubt.

"But I promise you, with this group of lads and this team and the success we’ve had over the last three or four years, honestly, none of us believed anything else.

"We just didn’t take it for granted, or we weren’t arrogant about it, we just knew if we knuckled down and we work hard, and we do what we can do, we knew we could do it.

“I’m delighted for everyone to do with Luton Town that we could do it.,

"It’s a shame the fans weren’t there to see us do it, because it would have been fantastic as it was a great achievement.”

Town started off with a 1-1 draw with Preston, before giving themselves a huge boost with results on the road, beating Swansea and drawing with champions Leeds United.

However, they looked to be down again after a 5-0 thumping at home by Reading, as Hylton said: "It was a humbling defeat.

"It came off the back of three really tough games – Preston, Swansea and Leeds – and we lost it 5-0, but it didn’t change anything.

"If we lost it 1-0 or 5-0, we still get zero points so it doesn’t really matter.

"We just made sure we had a good week of training, rested and hit the next few games hard.”

Luton did just that, as after a 1-1 draw with Barnsley, they then defeated Huddersfield 2-0 away from home and gained another point from a 1-1 draw with QPR.

That saw Hatters then visit fellow relegation rivals Hull City on the penultimate game, settled by Kazenga LuaLua's late 20-yard drive to earn a precious 1-0 win.

Hylton, who came off the bench midway through the second period, continued: “We knew we had to win it as the loser was going to go down, probably.

"We didn’t build it up too much, but without the gaffer needing to say it, everyone knew it.

"It was a great away performance, it could and should have probably been more.

"We were quite comfortable in the game in the end, there were a few nervy points obviously, but I thought the lads played really well that game.

"It was a big game that we managed to come out the right side of the result.”

That then set up a last day finale against Blackburn, with Town knowing a win would almost definitely secure their second tier status for another campaign.

They did just that with a 3-2 victory, as the build-up and 90 minutes, Hylton said: "It sounds weird, but it was probably excitement that we felt.

"I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it was exciting because I don’t expect anything less from this group of lads.

"I know that the staff we have, the manager we have and the players that we have, we are always in control.

"We do what we need to do and I have so much faith in this group of players and people.

"We went into the last game and we had a phone on the bench, there was a few times when Harry Isted was letting us know the results, because he was above us sitting in the stand, and the results were going our way most of the time.

"We just knew that we had to take care of our result and after going a goal down it was a little bit nervy, but we went and got the job done and in the end it was all good.”

Although was among the substitute to begin with, he came on in the second period and almost made the game safe, drilling narrowly wide of the far post.

He said: "You didn’t want to come off the bench and make the mistake that could be the reason we went down though, did you?!

"I’m happy playing a part and if I come on, I will always try and run around at the very least and do my bit.

"It’s not about me or anyone else, it was a team effort, a squad effort and I was delighted for everybody through the whole club.”

With results elsewhere going Town's way, it meant they eventually finished in 19th place, and clear of having to worry about any other sides and their possible points deductions.

Since the match, Wigan's punishment has been confirmed, but Sheffield Wednesday's will now carry over to the new season, as Hylton added: "There was a little bit of uncertainty leading up to that week because it was ‘if we draw and this team win, and Wigan don’t get the points deduction and so on.'

"So it was nice the way it panned out that we won, we ended up where we did in the league and we didn’t have to worry about points deductions or any other outside contributing factors.

"We took care of it and we are staying up and now we can look forward to next season.”