Hatters boss Nathan Jones was left with an over-riding feeling of pride with his players despite seeing their dreams of featuring in the Premier League next season ended with a 1-0 Championship play-off semi-final second leg defeat at Huddersfield Town on Monday night.
A late goal by experienced striker Jordan Rhodes, who escaped the attentions of Amari’i Bell to turn home a free kick at the far post with nine minutes to go, meant the Terriers took the tie 2-1 on aggregate and head to Wembley later this month.
However, the visitors were clearly the better side for long periods, particularly in the first half, with Harry Cornick missing a glorious chance, shooting straight at keeper Lee Nicholls from close range.
They had more opportunities too, Jordan Clark, James Bree and Robert Snodgrass denied by the keeper, as was Cornick after the break, Bell and Cameron Jerome also heading wide.
Although naturally disappointed not to go through, Jones was quick to praise his squad for their efforts this term, particularly when injuries hit during the latter stages of the campaign.
He said: “I’m just so proud of the group because this was the play-off semi-final to get into the Premier League.
“This is Luton Town. Where we’ve come from and what we’ve had, three years ago, these we in the Premier League and we’ve come from the Conference, so I’m so proud of them.
"You can take so much from this. There are probably 100 positives and one, maybe two negatives, from this season.
“I won't get carried away. We’ve come here and been the better team twice, we have.
“We missed a penalty (in the league) when we were in the ascendancy, so we’ve been the victims of our own downfall.
“We have to take our chances.
"They ride their luck at times and we watch games where the keeper made a couple of good saves and people give them chances and they’ve been clinical, and that’s what football is.
“If we’d been clinical, we’d have won the game. We weren’t, so there’s a learning curve for us.
“It’s really difficult to be irate with any player, because they’ve given me everything, they really have.”
When asked how the players themselves had taken the loss, Jones added: “They’re absolutely on the floor, you can imagine it.
"Certain ones will be disappointed for roles they’ve played, but I know them, they’ve given me everything.”
"They’ve been the best group you could ever imagine and they deserve better.
“I could talk all night but it’s been a wonderful season, absolutely magnificent."