Rob Edwards insists his Luton players have achieved nothing yet after a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Kenilworth Road saw them pull clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
It was a first home victory on their top-flight return for Edwards’ side and it came courtesy of late drama, culminating in a winning goal prodded in by substitute Jacob Brown seven minutes from time.
The game looked to be petering towards a drab goalless draw until defender Teden Mengi struck with 18 minutes to go, blasting a shot across goal and beyond Sam Johnstone from a corner to put Luton in sight of victory.
The lead was wiped out in seconds as virtually from kick-off Michael Oliseh collected the ball wide on the left, stepped inside and curled beautifully into the corner for a fine solo goal.
Yet Luton would have the final say, Brown getting in between defender Joachim Andersen and his goalkeeper to turn the ball home and propel his side to an historic win.
Edwards admitted his relief at seeing his side survive 12 minutes of stoppage time to finally get off the mark at home at the sixth attempt but emphasised the size of the task that still lies ahead.
“(It feels) really good,” he said. “Relief, I feel drained now, it was the longest game I’ve ever been a part of. Pleased for the supporters, pleased for everyone connected to the club.
“It’s been a long time coming here at home. I think we deserved a bit more than what we’ve got here in some of the games. We were close against Liverpool, close against Wolves, Burnley could have gone another way. But it’s taken until today.
“I don’t want the players having a party. We’ve done nothing (yet). We’ve got nine points. I don’t think that’s anything to be going out to the nightclub and having a flipping disco or a party.
“Enjoy it, but we’ve got to go again. Brentford’s really difficult next week, then we’ve got Arsenal and Man City to look forward to. We’ve got to keep improving and getting better.
“So enjoy the moment, enjoy the feeling, it’s nice. The players can enjoy their weekend. But it’s back to work quickly.”
The win was notable for a fine display by Ross Barkley in midfield, with the summer signing having played an increasingly influential role in recent matches.
“He allows us to play differently, allows us to be a different team,” said Edwards. “Ross is a really good player and he does help us, gives us more control.
“He has a 360 view of the pitch, he knows where the space is, he can calm things down for us. It was another big performance from him. He’s getting better every week.”
Palace boss Roy Hodgson reflected on a game that got away from his side as it hung in the balance at 1-1.
“A good goal from Luton’s point of view but a bad one from our point of view, especially at a time when we were playing well,” said Hodgson.
“We got the equaliser and should have been looking at consolidating and maybe going on to win the game.
“Congratulations to Luton for holding on and for a spirited performance.”