Midfielder Andrew Shinnie was the difference between the two sides as Luton won 2-1 at Crewe on Saturday, according to boss Nathan Jones.
The on-loan Birmingham City player had been dropped to the bench despite starting and impressing during Hatters’ last two games, scoring his first league goal in the process too, as Jones opted for the 4-3-3 formation.
He took it well and we introduced him early and look, he was the difference in the quality.Nathan Jones
However, with the scores at Gresty Road goalless, Shinnie replaced Harry Cornick on the hour mark and although not directly involved, saw his team instantly move in front through Danny Hylton’s close range finish.
He was then to play a huge role in Luton’s second, winning the ball back on the right and crossing for Luke Berry to slide home, before running the midfield during his half an hour cameo.
Speaking afterwards, Jones, explaining why he was on the bench, said: “Andrew Shinnie was unlucky. I brought Olly Lee back because he’s in fine form, so I just made a straight swap there with Pelly Ruddock, Pelly understood.
“Andrew Shinnie was very unfortunate as he’s been arguably our best player in the two games, he’s contributed massively to the 10 goals we’d scored in the two previous home games but we changed shape and this is what we have to realise.
“He did, he took it well and we introduced him early and look, he was the difference in the quality.
“The lad has wonderful quality, he’s a fantastic footballer and he showed on a real dark, dank, bad weather day that real class comes through.
“The conditions, trust me they were bad. It was blowing a gale, really blowing in our faces and we won it in the first half, we really did.
“We defended so, so well first half and were were unlucky not to get in ahead, but it was probably a fair result, 0-0 at half time.
“Then second half when we came out and got the goals and if it hadnt been for the own goal it would have been a comfortable victory.”
Striker Danny Hylton admitted it was a pleasure to play with Shinnie, who has featured in the Championship regularly earlier in his career, plus being at Scottish Premier League side Hibernian last term, saying: “He’s ridiculous, he’s such a good technician.
“When he gets the ball and you give him space and time on the ball he can find passes and wiggle out of trouble.
“He’s a great player, played at a great level, so we’re enjoying playing with him and hopefully he can providing some assists from us forwards.”
Meanwhile, defender Johnny Mullins added: “Shins came on and to be honest, I thought he was a real game changer for us.
“He gave us a completely different dimension and apart from the goal for them, I thought we were very comfortable.”