Luton boss 'shell shocked' by play-off exit

Luton boss Nathan Jones
Luton boss Nathan Jones
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A devastated Luton Town boss Nathan Jones said his side's play-off exit at the hands of Blackpool left him "shell shocked".

The Hatters seemed to be in control of the tie when, with just 14 minutes left on the clock, they were leading 3-1 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate.

But Blackpool sub Armand Gnanduillet rose highest to head home into an empty net to level the overall score.

But worse was to follow for the Hatters boss when Kelvin Mellor's header somehow made its way past Stuart Moore and Jordan Cook on the line to make it 3-3 on the night, with the Seasiders progressing to Wembley 6-5 over the two ties.

Speaking afterwards, Jones said: “I’m devastated, a little bit shell-shocked really as for 76, 77 minutes, we were in total control of the game.

“They scored from a breakaway first half, bit of naivety really and then we came back to go 3-1 up.

“We were really in the ascendancy we had real good opportunities, had good counter attacks, we were building well, and we played magnificently well.

“But just an error really has cost us got them back in it because i could not see them coming back into the game.

“It’s what happens when you’ve got a big man on and we didn’t handle that, and that’s what’s cost us in the end.

“I’m bitterly disappointed because how we went about our work, I’m standing there really relaxed at 72, 73 minutes as I just couldn’t see them scoring.”

READ MORE: Bowyer’s Blackpool 90 minutes from promotion the Wembley way

Luton had fallen 1-0 behind on the night and 4-2 overall when Nathan Delfouneso volleyed home, before Mellor’s own goal and a Scott Cuthbert header saw Luton go 2-1 in front.

Danny Hylton’s controversial penalty on the hour mark looked to be sending the hosts to Wembley, until the late drama as Jones added: “First half, the only thing they had was that one counter attack, it really was.

“We were excellent, we really were, we started well, we moved the ball well, we were dominating and then they scored out of nothing.

“We showed real character, we came back, scored two before half time, and then we say, ‘can we go again.’

“One goal then wins it for us, we get the goal and we’re in total control, there’s no worries whatsoever, and then one moment, the whole game changes.

“That’s what sport’s about, and that’s what we need to eradicate.”