Jones believes cup victory shows Town could cope in League One

Hatters boss Nathan Jones celebrates the 1-0 win over Portsmouth
Hatters boss Nathan Jones celebrates the 1-0 win over Portsmouth

Hatters boss Nathan Jones believes this afternoon’s 1-0 FA Cup win over Portsmouth has proved his side would be able to cope in a higher division next season, should they achieve promotion this term.

The Luton chief has assembled a squad he feels is more than capable of playing in League One, and they have now proved that twice in a week, following up victory in the Checkatrade Trophy against AFC Wimbledon by defeating Pompey thanks to James Collins’ excellent first half strike.

Jones said: “I'm delighted. We've made a lot of this game, because Portsmouth were where we were last year and we want to emulate what Portsmouth did last year and get out of this league.

"They're a benchmark in terms of can we compete? We say stuff within our camp, so we have to back that up and I thought they did today, they were excellent.

“We controlled the game first half and if we had a little bit more cutting edge in the final third, we might have scored another.

"In terms of the goal that we did score, it was just pure quality, absolute quality, and then second half they had one or two late on shots from distance.

"But on the balance of chances we deserved it and we could have had a couple more second half."

Jones felt that if anything it was his side who looked like they were from the third tier of English football, particularly during the first half, as he continued: “I thought there was a difference in the sides and the quality of sides.

“I think we controlled the game. They have a threat in terms of Ollie Hawkins and (Brett) Pitman’s a good, good player, they’ve got (Matt) Kennedy who’s wide and a real threat.

“But I thought first half we controlled the game without really hurting them as much as we would have liked and it took a very, very good goal to break the deadlock and a good time to score.”

On Collins’ winner, which was an excellent team goal by the Hatters, Jones said: “The build up was wonderful, in terms of Scott Cuthbert’s ball into the 10 (Andrew Shinnie), and then the turn, the ball into Danny (Hylton) and Danny’s perfect cushion.

“But the finish was clinical, that’s quality and wonderful, worthy of winning the game.

“We had easier chances than that to have scored, but I’m delighted, as Portsmouth are a good side with a very experienced manager and a good group of players.

“We lost twice to them last year, we want to improve on every level, so the only game we have against Portsmouth this year, we won the game.”

Town were indebted to a wonderful display from keeper Marek Stech in the second half, as he made two brilliant stops from Matt Clarke’s header and then Ben Close’s stoppage time strike as well, to be named the sponsor's man of the match.

Jones added: “His dad might have been sponsoring the game I think, but to be fair, when he’s called upon, he does well.

“But we’ve had some wonderful opportunities, their keeper has made some real good saves, Olly Lee was clean through, Luke Berry has had a second opportunity too.

“We’ve had opportunities from corners, set-plays, Danny’s actually cleared one off the line for them.

“It was a real good cup tie against a very good side. Their fans came in numbers like Pompey do, but I’m absolutely delighted.”