Hatters boss Graeme Jones felt his side were ‘treading in quicksand’ for large parts of today’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City, but praised the character of his side as they got a late equaliser.
Having gone 1-0 up through Sam Vokes’ tap-in early on, Stoke defended resolutely throughout the encounter, restricting the Hatters to half-chances before James Collins scored from the penalty spot in the last minute to grab a point, after Callum McManaman had been upended.
Jones said: “Yes it did [look like it was going to be one of those days], but we never gave in, not with these lads and Stoke are a very experienced Championship side. You look at their group of players and their ages and their 11 men on the pitch, who have got a lot of knowhow, with international experience – I can go through their team if you need me to. So they should be able to control certain moments.
“We were treading in quicksand for large parts of the game, I think Tuesday night really took its toll physically, I didn’t see the spark we had physically – but in those situations, the key for us is to get something out of it.
“I was speaking to the boys before Christmas about us needing to accumulate points and that’s what we have done today. We have managed to nick a point that might be enough at the end of the season.”
Collins showed a cool head to fire in from the spot, sending Jack Butland the wrong way, finding the bottom right corner.
The gaffer continued: “Especially after missing his last penalty here against Sheffield Wednesday. 90th minute, you’ve got to have experienced big moments to keep your cool in those minutes, in those situations. The courage of the lad, I don’t think anybody at this football club doubts it – he was ice cool.”
With the Town struggling to break down their opponents, Luke Bolton was introduced and his ball into the box led to the Hatters winning the penalty.
“With the greatest respect to Martin Cranie, he is a fantastic player, but one-v-ones are not really his strength and I have seen a lot of players funnelled out wide and then it went to Martin and we had to come back.
“I made the substitution because I wanted Luke’s one-v-one quality, because it was just bottlenecking. In the end, he was the one who got the one-v-one, the half-a-yard, he crosses the ball in the box and we get a penalty from it.”