Wembley highs and lows for Town striker Taylor as he keeps his nerve from the spot after seeing winner ruled out for handball

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Forward thought he won it at the death only for VAR

Although he was only for 15 minutes, Luton striker Joe Taylor ran the entire gauntlet of emotions during the Hatters’ penalty shoot-out victory over Coventry City on Saturday in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

The 20-year-old, who was signed from League One Peterborough United in the January transfer window, had been named on the bench with Cauley Woodrow ruled out through injury.

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Carlton Morris and Elijah Adebayo were both chosen to lead the line as expected, but with the game going into extra time following a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes, the latter was struggling with cramp during the first period.

Replaced by Taylor at the interval, the forward then thought he was going to be the hero, robbing defender Jonathan Panzo’s heavy touch and going through to beat Ben Wilson in front of the massed Luton ranks, sending them into utter bedlam, with what looked like his first ever senior goa.

Taylor himself set off on a kneeslide with the Town bench, including manager Rob Edwards, tearing down the touch-line as well in scenes of sheer celebration.

However, that joy soon turned to dismay, as a VAR check for a possible handball flashed up on the big screen, the Coventry end soon erupting, with the ball accidentally, but clearly striking Taylor’s hand as he went through and the goal was chalked off, meaning it went down to spotkicks instead.

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Taylor managed to put his disappointment behind him to step up in second for the Hatters, to beat Wilson once more and find the bottom corner as Luton eventually went through 6-5 to reach the top flight, ensuring the celebrations could start once more.

Joe Taylor tucks his penalty away in the shoot-outJoe Taylor tucks his penalty away in the shoot-out
Joe Taylor tucks his penalty away in the shoot-out

Asked about his day, Taylor said: “I think I’ve had a bit of everything!

"Scoring the goal that I thought had sealed the win, I thought I’d sent us to the Premier League and then turn around and see the referee had obviously disallowed it.

"At that time I thought Jesus Christ, you can’t get any lower than that, but I just put it all behind me for the penalties, stepped up and then just forgot about it all and really focused on scoring the penalty.

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"I know if I score my penalty, it’s going to help out in the penalty shootout.”

Going into more detail on the moment he thought he had won it, Taylor admitted he had always been fearing the worst, as he continued: “I knew it hit my hand, but I still to this moment think it’s a little bit harsh.

"There’s nothing I can do about it, its ricocheted off my foot and hit my hand, but I understand that its eventually put me through on goal.

"I celebrated anyway, just in case there’s some stupid rule that says ricochets don’t matter, something like that, but celebrate anyway.

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“It was a very high and low day for me, but eventually I’m so happy that I ended it on a high.”

Taylor's background in football makes his ice-cold composure from the spot even more impressive, as last term he was playing for National League side King's Lynn Town, with a loan spell at Eastern Counties Premier Division team Wroxham.

Making only one league start in his career previously, that for Luton in a dead rubber against Hull, with 85,000 people watching on, and in a game dubbed the richest in club football, it would have been understandable if the occasion had got to him.

However, he tucked it away with real aplomb, as did the rest of his team-mates and despite such little experience on the big stage, or any stage for that matter, Taylor knew he was going to step up.

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He said: “I sort of knew that if it was going to go to penalties, I’d get a little bit of a run-out.

"Because I’m so confident when I’m taking my penalties, I knew if it came down to that, I would get a little run-out and to be honest, although it’s my first time playing in front of such a crowd, I didn’t really get nervous.

"I was more excited for the occasion, I’m not one to get nervous to be honest, I just thought I’d come on and run my backside off, just see what I could do.

“I let the gaffer know and I let the coaching staff know that if it came down to it, I’m more than happy to be in the top five.

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"I said preferably four, but when I got the news I thought, ‘oh!’

"But I’m confident from 12 yards, I always believe that if I put it where I want to do, with the amount of power I’m going to get on it, nine times out of 10 I’m going to score, you have to be some keeper to save that.

“I’ve got the slow run-up, I sort of just wait for the keeper, but he wasn’t giving me anything, so I thought I’d go to my default and I just put as much power on it, as much precision as I can and hopefully I can score.

“I just blocked them (fans) out, I tried my best to.

"I had a deep breath before I ran up and I just thought, block them out and just do what I do and thankfully I scored.”

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On what it felt like when Fankaty Dabo put his effort wide to mean that Luton will now be taking on the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool next term, Taylor added: “I don’t know whether you saw but I dropped to my knees and I just started crying.

"Then I got up and I went and saw the Coventry lads that were on the halfway line, commiserations to them, but I feel like the run we entered the play-offs in, it was only going to end one way.

"I think we thoroughly deserved it on the day.

“It’s not fully sunk in yet, but I’m sure when it does, I’ll be over the moon.”