'Calamity' goals leaves Luton chief scratching his head

Hatters boss Nathan Jones is consoled after the play-off exit against Blackpool
Hatters boss Nathan Jones is consoled after the play-off exit against Blackpool
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Hatters boss Nathan Jones was left to rue his side’s calamitous defending as they were knocked out of the play-offs by Blackpool last night.

After Nathan Delfouneso had taken advantage of some poor marking to put the visitors ahead, Luton, who had been beaten 3-2 at Bloomfield Road on Sunday, shot back to lead the tie 5-4 on aggregate through Kelvin Mellor’s own goal, Scott Cuthbert’s header and a 27th of the season for Danny Hylton from the penalty spot.

However, Armand Gnanduillet then headed home after an error by keeper Stuart Moore with 14 minutes to go, before Mellor’s last-gasp header from a corner won it as a stunned Jones knew it was an area that has cost Town time and time again this term.

He said: “They’re not great goals to give away, there’s real calamity in the goals and that’s the frustrating thing.

“Because we work so hard on our structure, how we play, we educate the players and then just need to do your defensive disciplines.

“If we’d been disciplined all over, then we wouldn’t have lost either game, but we have and that’s been the thing.

“There’s been games here, Cheltenham, where we’re gifting teams goals and we really have to earn goals.

“We’ve scored some wonderful goals, we had one bit of luck at Accrington, where they scored an own goal, that’s the only bit of luck we’ve really had as we’ve had to carve teams open, we've had to earn every single thing we’ve had this season.

“We’ve just been naive at the crucial times, even late on when they took a short corner, we didn’t learn from the Oxford game and we’ve spoken 100 times about the Oxford game where they took the short corner and scored.

“That’s the naivety that has cost us this year. I’m proud of how we played, proud about we went about our work, you can see we’re a wonderful side at times, but we just need to see that game out.”

After netting five times themselves over the two legs, Jones felt that should have been enough to earn a place in the final against Exeter City, only for Luton's defence to crumble in both ties.

He added: “We scored five goals in the play-offs and in any other league that takes you to Wembley.

“It didn’t as we conceded six and the goals we conceded weren’t great goals to give away.

“One was a counter attack from giving the ball away in their half and we didn’t deal with that.

“The second’s a big error and then thirdly we don’t deal with a set play and we still had an opportunity after they’ve actually won the header to clear it and we don’t.

“The goals from our point of view over the two legs, were really, really poor, they really, really are. When you concede six, it’s difficult to win a play-off.”