The key quotes from Nathan Jones after Luton's win at Rotherham
Luton Town manager Nathan Jones was pleased with the second-half performance which secured the win over Rotherham United. Photo: James Gill/Danehouse/Getty Images.

Luton Town moved into the top half of the Championship table – and just one point off the play-off places – with victory at Rotherham United on Wednesday night.

James Collins scored the only goal in the second half, leaving manager Nathan Jones pleased enough with a hard-earned away success.

On the first half 

It was far from smooth sailing for the Hatters, however. They were comfortably outfought in the first half, failing to have a single shot in the first 43 minutes while Rotherham took control of proceedings.

That came despite Jones making six changes to his starting line-up, in attempt to keep things fresh in this hectic period for all Championship clubs.

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Jones said: “We made six changes, one or two (for injuries) but the rest enforced to make sure that we came freshened up with energy. We knew this was an energetic side, they play on the front foot, so we needed to combat that and we didn’t do that in the first half.

“Ironically we had the best chance of the first half, a glorious chance for George (Moncur, saved by Jamal Blackman), but second half was more us.”

On the second half 

Luton came out a rejuvenated side after the interval and turned the tables, dominating the second half and producing a hatful of chances including the one with which Collins won the game.

“The second half was more us,” said the manager. “We were front-footed, we took the game to Rotherham, I thought we were excellent. It was tight towards the end but we should have been out of sight, without being disrespectful to anyone.

“We hit the post, George had another change, Collins had a point-blank opportunity. We should have been two or three up by the time we got to injury-time. That’s the only thing we need to learn.”

On half-time 

Jones says that his team only needed a reminder of their responsibilities at the break, along with the game-changing decision to bring off Joe Morrell for Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu.

“I just wanted them to go back to the gameplan,” he explained. “We’d made six changes and I thought we’d have more energy and win the battles but we didn’t.

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“Joe’s a bit unlucky because physically he’s not like Pelly, so we made the change and we did in the second half what we thought we would do from the start.

“You know when you play Rotherham you have to be front-footed, you have to do the basics right, because they test you. They’re aggressive, they work hard. They’re in your face, and they were better than us in the first half. But in the second half we were excellent.”

On the makeshift defence 

Luton claimed a clean sheet despite a succession of injuries forcing them to field a very unfamiliar back four, consisting of midfielder Glen Rea alongside Sonny Bradley in the middle, centre-back Matty Pearson on the right, and right-back Martin Cranie on the left.

“The back four were pretty much the only defenders I could pick,” Jones admitted. “I knew that back four would compete because they’re experienced, they put their head on it, they defend well.

“Sonny Bradley and Glen Rea were excellent, Matty Pearson was superb; Cranie deserves credit, he just keeps rolling out games. I wouldn’t say that’s the most fluent back four in the world but when you come away and need to put your head on it, that back four did.”

On their impressive start 

It has been a very good opening 10 games for the Hatters, winning five and drawing one to sit just outside the play-offs despite having one the division’s smallest budgets.

But Jones notes that their start to this season mirrors the form they showed after his return to the club for the run-in at the end of last year, and insists they are not exceeding expectations.

He said: “We want to push boundaries here. I’d hate to say ‘we’re exceeding (expectations)’. No, because at the end of last season we picked up 16 points from nine games. We’ve now picked up 16 points from 10. It shows we’re relatively consistent over 20 games really.

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“In 19 games we’re looking at 32 points, which is a wonderful return. I don’t think we’ve overachieved. But I know where we are and we know we have to continue with these levels, winning games that we need to win, and that’s all we can do.

“Against Stoke and Nottingham Forest, if we had just turned up in one of those second-half performances we’d actually have a minimum of another two points, so no I don’t think it flatters us.”

On Sheffield Wednesday 

Shortly before kick-off, the verdict on Sheffield Wednesday’s appeal against their 12-point deduction was announced, with the punishment halved to six points.

Jones clearly had a strong view on that, and said: “I’ve got real good thoughts on that; I’m not sure I’d say them in the press.

“But all we can say is the league weren’t entirely happy with the 12 that they got, so to halve it to six… It’ll be interesting to see what the league say. If people break the rules, why are there rules in place?

“As a club we do what’s right, because we can’t go out and spend above what we have, otherwise people don’t get paid. For someone to do that, I have really strong thoughts on it, but it’s very difficult for me to say.

“I imagine there will be outrage from some clubs. What we’ve got to do is make sure it doesn’t affect us in any way, shape or form.”