Hatters boss Nathan Jones brandished the three second half goals that Luton conceded during their 4-0 defeat at Port Vale this afternoon as ‘horrific’.
Town had been trailing 1-0 at half time to an unfortunate own goal from Johnny Mullins, before they were breached three more times after the interval, with the back-line, in particular Glen Rea, making a host of errors.
Jones, who had shuffled his pack and made four changes for the clash, said: “We were poor, we were second best from start to finish, we really were.
“We had a spell just after half time for about five or six, seven, eight minutes, that we looked like the team that we are, but apart from that we were second best all over.
“The goals are horrific, apart from the first goal, the goals are horrific in terms of defending, but we didn’t deserve anything from today’s game.
“I could come here and say the pitch was awful, there was three errors, otherwise we would have got something out of the game, but we wouldn’t have.
“That’s what I listen to when we do that to teams, but they were better than us all over the park.
"They got second balls, they outworked us, out-competed us, we didn’t handle (Tom) Pope all afternoon and we got what we deserved.”
After Mullins had unluckily got in the way of Dan Potts’s clearance to put through his own net, Luton uncharacteristically fell apart in the second period, with Rea having a 45 minutes to forget.
First, he was beaten all too easily by Ben Whitfield, Vale’s winger crossing for Pope to make it 2-0, while he then produced an awful backpass which was pounced on by Pope to set up Whitfield to gift the hosts their third.
Rea, who in his defence, has been excellent of late, also missed his clearance that led to the Valiants’ fourth goal, although whether Pope's effort crossed the line or not was unclear.
Jones continued: “To be fair they had a couple of chances first half, we were lucky to be only 1-0 down at half time.
“But for the first one, the ball went to Pope he flicked it on, we didn’t win the header as we didn’t all afternoon, we didn’t go with Whitfield, as we didn’t all afternoon and that goal was coming.
“Then second half, I can’t explain the errors. We gifted them goals, in terms of slipping, in terms of not defending properly, or passing directly to them, so when you do that you don’t stand a chance.
“We could have stopped those three goals going in, but we didn’t deserve anything from the game.”
The performance was polar opposites to what Luton produced during the second half at Swindon on Boxing Day just four days earlier and when asked why that was, Jones added: “One, I freshened up the team with four games in a week, because it’s a big ask, so that might have upset a bit of equilibrium, but the pitch is awful here.
“It really is difficult to stand up and get any kind of football going.
“We knew that, but we just didn’t defend well. They outfought us, out-battled us, worked harder than us, they were more dangerous than us.
"Pope was more of a threat than anyone else on the pitch and they won the game and thoroughly deserved to win the game.
“I can’t stand here and defend my team. We haven’t lost in three months, so hopefully it’s a one off and we’ve got a game now quickly to react to that.
“But we were nowhere near today and credit to Port Vale, they’re in good form today and deserve the win today, comfortably.”