Hatters boss Paul Buckle was brimming with pride despite his team’s FA Cup fifth round exit at the hands of Millwall yesterday, writes Mike Simmonds.
Town lost 3-0 in front of a packed Kenilworth Road, but despite the scoreline, the Hatters turned in a battling performance against their Championship opponents, with the scoreline not a true reflection of the game.
Buckle said: “I was very proud of the cup run, I think the players have been an absolute credit to the football club.
“To beat a Championship team and a Premiership team and to go on the run we’ve been on is fantastic. It’s brought a lot of money to the club which is fantastic and now it’s on to the league.”
After making a fine start, Hatters fell behind after an error by defender Janos Kovacs was pounced on by James Henry to round Mark Tyler to score.
Buckle continued: “One thing we couldn’t afford to do is gift them a goal or a chance. When you’re playing higher opposition it’s imperative you don’t make terrible errors at the back but we did that, and we’ve done that all season.
“When you look at the season whenever we’ve conceded, by and large it’s been errors, so we’ve got to cut that out.
“The goals were disappointing, but the players gave everything right to the very end and the fans waiting behind to clap them was really nice to see.”
Midfielder Alex Lawless was disappointed to see errors creep in yet again defensively and knows as a team they need to learn quickly to put things right for the remainder of the league campaign.
He said: “Players are professional enough, it’s about going away and learning from it.
“The lads don’t give each other an easy time when it goes wrong, but it’s nothing personal.
“Everyone wants to do well and do well for each other, it might have happened once or twice throughout the season and we’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen again now.
“The lads have got a a lot of faith in each other and the gaffer is giving us as much confidence as he can and its all about us getting some results in the league now.”
Town weren’t without chances of their own on the day either as both Andre Gray and Arnaud Mendy were denied by fine saves from David Forde.
Buckle felt the Lions keeper had kept his side in the game, saying: “We had to dig deep to try and recover from the first goal certainly. It was a good reaction by the team to go up the other end and have some really good chances.
“I thought their keeper was outstanding. That was a top performance from a really good goalkeeper, he came for everything, was commanding, made saves when required. That’s testament to our players that Millwall needed their goalkeeper to play that well.”
Lions boss Kenny Jackett agreed that the first goal had played a massive part in the contest as it allowed his side to taken an early control of the match which they never gave up.
He said: “It was an excellent win for us, I felt we defended very well. I was very pleased with the clean sheet and coming here, the first goal was always going to be important and a key goal.
“James saw the opportunity and finished it off very well. It set us on our way to a very good victory.
“If Luton had have scored first it wouldn’t have been impossible but it would been tough for us and I did feel the first goal was certainly key towards us coming to a tricky tie against a Conference side with basically nothing to lose.
“Our back four had to withstand a lot of pressure in the air. There were a lot of headers and we won key headers in our box and that was one of the main things.”
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