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Nathan Jones pleased as Luton bounce back from enforced break to down Harrogate

Luton Town v Stoke City – Sky Bet Championship – Kenilworth Road
(Image credit: Leila Coker)

Luton boss Nathan Jones was happy to see his side shake off their ring rust as they cruised past Harrogate 4-0 to move into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

The Hatters went into the game having not played for 29 days due to outbreaks of Covid but, despite their lack of action, they eased home thanks to goals from Elijah Adebayo, Cameron Jerome, Kal Naismith and Luke Berry.

Jones said: “We haven’t played any football in a month, we’ve given them a big week this week in terms of training and in numbers as we’ve got to get up to speed, so it was a gamble.

“We’ve got a lot players who haven’t played in a long time so it showed but, still, we’ve been a mile off our levels of intensity, of energy, of quality, of work-rate, of defensive prowess and we’ve managed to win the game 4-0, so it’s not a bad world is it?

“With the greatest respect, if we’d have been playing Bournemouth today we’d have got punished, it was that type of game, but that’s the way of the world we live in.

“We didn’t choose to have Covid, we didn’t choose to have the games called off, two of the games that were called off were not our doing, so it’s just the way it is.

“We knew this would be our first game back, we’d have to get the prep worked, knew it was a stern test and we treated it right, we made the changes we needed to and a lot of people had minutes and that’s what it was about today.

“We’re in the next round. Credit to Harrogate, they’re a good side, Simon’s (Weaver) done a great job there but we won the game 4-0, so let’s not forget that even though we were nowhere near our levels and it could have been a different story, it wasn’t.”

After a quiet start, Adebayo gave Luton the lead after 18 minutes, swivelling to shoot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

The Hatters moved 2-0 ahead early in the second half, Jerome bundling home Carlos Mendes Gomes’ cross before Brahima Diarra wasted the visitors’ best chance when shooting wide when clean through.

Naismith dinked over Mark Oxley for a third after 82 minutes and Town goalkeeper James Shea superbly denied Luke Armstrong and Diarra a consolation before Berry wrapped up the win with two minutes left by side-footing home after terrific work by Fred Onyedinma.

Sulphurites boss Weaver did not feel sorry for his side, however, and said: “To be honest, I don’t, as a big part of the game is being ruthless when you create the chances.

“That’s one of the hardest parts of the game is creating, but you must finish the chances when they come by, we had plenty of chances but we didn’t put any in the net.

“Then defensively we contributed to all the goals that we conceded, so we have to keep on being better, we don’t want the unlucky tag, lots of nice passing, good on the eye, good enough to cut a Championship team open, but the result was 4-0 so we’re disappointed.

“It’s lovely on the eye, I’m sure we’ll get some condescending plaudits on the way but the outcome is we lost the game 4-0 and it should have been better.”

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