Rob Edwards has called on Luton to play “like our lives depend on it” in Tuesday’s Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final second leg against Sunderland.
The Hatters’ dreams of reaching the Premier League for the first time in their history suffered a setback on Saturday after Sunderland hit back from an early deficit to claim a 2-1 win at the Stadium of Light.
And Luton boss Edwards has stressed the need for his side to combine a red-hot desire with ice-cold thinking if they are to book a place in the play-off final against either Middlesbrough or Coventry at Wembley later this month.
Ready to go again tomorrow. #LUTSUN | #COYH pic.twitter.com/v8ASjASZwn
— Luton Town FC (@LutonTown) May 15, 2023
“We have got to be calm because we need 11 players on the pitch, but we need fire and then to be ice cold in the right moments,” he said.
“We need to play with real fire and like our lives depend on it tomorrow. We don’t want this to be the end but this could be our last game of the season and we don’t want that to be the case.”
Edwards echoed that message to the Luton supporters who he believes will play a vital role in deciding the outcome of Tuesday’s clash at a sold-out Kenilworth Road.
He referenced last month’s derby victory over Watford and called for a similarly “amazing” atmosphere in order to galvanise his side’s attempted fightback.
“We want the crowd to be wild and right at it,” Edwards said.
“We’ve got to make it really difficult for them and we need our crowd to play their part in that as well. And we want to make sure we play our part and give our fans something to shout about.
“The atmosphere was amazing for the Watford game and if we can notch it up a little bit more again then that will be what I will like and what we will need as well. I think that was a great advert for Kenilworth Road for when it’s at its best.”
Luton have not played in the top flight since being relegated from the old First Division in 1992 – the year before the Premier League was launched – and they even dropped out of the Football League in the intervening period.
However, after finally escaping the Conference following a five-year exile in 2014 they have enjoyed a remarkable rise and, if they can overcome Sunderland, they would be one game away from a return to English football’s top table.
Defender Amari’i Bell, whose side were unbeaten in 14 games going into the first leg against Sunderland, said of the return meeting with the Black Cats: “I think it’s the biggest game of most of our careers.
“We’ve got to go out there and give it our all. I think everyone’s excited, looking forward to the challenge and relishing the position we’ve put ourselves in.
“The last loss was a long time ago and we forgot what it’s like to lose. It’s not something we’re used to but we know we have to bounce back and normally when that happens (lose) we do, so it’s going to be a good tie.”
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