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Hatters’ character delights Nathan Jones after spirited comeback at Blackburn

Derby County v Luton Town – Sky Bet Championship – Pride Park
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Nathan Jones said his side showed “real character” in ‘adversity’ after Luton scored deep into stoppage time to salvage a frenetic 2-2 draw at Blackburn.

Rovers led 2-0 going into the closing quarter of the Sky Bet Championship contest at Ewood Park, after clinical first-half strikes from Tyrhys Dolan and Harry Pickering – his first for the club – in the space of four first-half minutes.

But Luton fought back in remarkable fashion through substitute Luke Berry’s double. He slid in from close range in the 73rd minute and dramatically hammered home deep into added time, which was extended after injury to referee Oliver Langford.

It gave the Hatters a share of the spoils that never looked likely and, after celebrating with the delighted travelling supporters, Jones praised his side’s resolve after they overcame a combination of illness and injury.

He said: “(I feel) nothing but pleasure for what we have been through in 24 hours.

“We work for two weeks on a certain thing, then we lost one (player) at the hotel last night and one in the early hours, then one in the warm-up, and one to a terrible challenge in the first 15 minutes.

“So we’ve had to go through some real adversity. It rocked us because they had two chances (in the) first half and scored them both. They showed real quality – we know they have that quality – but statistically, possession-wise, entries, we had the same. But they showed more quality.

“Second half, we came out with a little more endeavour, we had to risk certain things, sometimes got caught on the counter.

“But (it’s) a thoroughly deserved point for me because Cameron Jerome has a glorious chance to make it 2-1, we scored a perfectly legitimate goal also, and with a bit more quality, we could have scored more.

“Sluga (goalkeeper, Simon) makes a wonderful save a couple of minutes before and I think we got a deserved equaliser because of all we’ve been through. We showed real character today.”

Blackburn are now winless in three games after the late sucker punch and have won only one of four games at home this season.

Manager Tony Mowbray accused the referee of ‘losing the plot’ and making the game a ‘farce’.

He said: “I think we did more than enough to win the match. Unfortunately, the officials made a farce of the game, to be honest, and if I was the guy who refereed that game I would go home and watch it, see what I think I got right.

“I don’t think they get helped by the authorities. If you look at that game, every tackle last year when somebody falls to the ground is a foul or a booking and yet today, like body wrestling out there, and he just plays on.

“I’m not sure he knew what he was doing and I feel pretty vulnerable, should I criticise the ref too much, is it sour grapes?

“I’m hurting, the team are hurting, we should have won. And yet there is no accountability for the officials.

“The official’s lost the plot, let’s be honest. I stand there and watch it, I can see the guy’s eyes glazed over. The fourth official doesn’t know what to say, he’s embarrassed really, and then he ends up going on himself.”