Rob Edwards hails ‘exceptional’ performance as Luton head for play-off final

·2-min read

Rob Edwards said his Luton team deserved their Sky Bet Championship play-off victory over Sunderland.

The Hatters won 2-0 on Tuesday, overcoming a 2-1 first-leg deficit to progress 3-2 on aggregate amid joyous scenes at Kenilworth Road.

Defenders Gabe Osho and Tom Lockyer got the first-half goals which turned the tie around and left Edwards full of pride.

Tom Lockyer, centre, celebrates his winning goal
Tom Lockyer, centre, celebrates his winning goal

He said: “I thought over the two games we deserved it.

“They (Sunderland) had their moments and they’ve got some really good players.

“We could have been better (on Saturday), they won the game but we limited them to few chances there. But tonight we were exceptional.

“We’ve got to stick to what we’re good at and we did that tonight. I’m so pleased for the supporters and everyone at the club.

“To do it here (Kenilworth Road) is really special. We knew where our advantages lay, we scored a couple of good goals but I think we could have had a lot more as well. It was a really strong performance.”

The Hatters can look forward to a Wembley showdown against Coventry or Middlesbrough on May 27, with a place in the Premier League the prize to the winner.

Luton have not played top-flight football since 1992 and Edwards continued: “It wasn’t about us doing a job on Sunderland, it was about us being really good.

“We limited them to shots from distance, one save Ethan (Horvath) made over the 94 minutes.”

Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray was frustrated a season of such promise ended in defeat.

The Black Cats were promoted to the Championship via the play-offs last May and Mowbray said: “I’m frustrated but very proud of the players, the team and the city of Sunderland. We’ll get stronger and we’ll be back next season.

“I’ve only been here nine months and these players have given everything they’ve got.

Sunderland’s Aji Alese, left, and Edouard Michut react to defeat to Luton
Sunderland’s Aji Alese, left, and Edouard Michut react to defeat to Luton

“I’m proud of these young lads who week in, week out have given what they’ve got.

“We came out of League One and maybe consolidation is what people were thinking about.

“We’ve managed to punch above mediocrity. We’ve come close but unfortunately we’ve fallen short tonight.

“I think the league will be stronger next season. We have to keep building and growing and get better.”

Mowbray acknowledged that his quest for a second successive promotion was not helped by injuries.

“We’ve had huge losses of some very, very important footballers,” he said. (Captain) Corry Evans, the centre-forward who scores all the goals (Ross Stewart) and three centre-halves.

“They’ve performed really well and I’m proud of them.”