Town’s stars are determined to take the pluses from their FA Cup run into their floundering league campaign, writes Mark Wood.
Saturday’s result mean Luton are 14 points off top spot and nine points off the play-offs, although they do have games in hand.
Recalled striker Scott Rendell said: “It’s been massive. Obviously to go to places like Carrow Road and turn them over and beat Wolves here and we got ourselves a nice tie against Millwall in the fifth round. No-one expected us to get past the third round if we’re honest, but we went one step further and got to the fifth round.
“It was nice, it was a good buzz around the club for so long. But now it gives us times to focus on what we need to do in the league.”
Skipper Ronnie Henry felt Luton could have gone further, but knows the league has always been the priority.
He said: “I think we had a chance to really create history and to get into the quarter-final and we’ve thrown it away a little bit, because they were there for the taking. Fair play to Millwall, they’re a good side. In the end they probably deserved a win, but we did create our chances and we could have won.
“It’s hard but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve had a great FA Cup run, the lads have got great experience from it and we can move on now to the league, which we all know we need to win.
“The league is more important to all the players and the club I’m sure.”
Striker Andre Gray hopes Town can kick on from here and that going out of the cup could prove a blessing in disguise.
“I think it’s been massive for everyone,” he said. “It’s what the boys dream of, I think obviously we are in the Conference Premier and to play against Premier League teams, Championship teams, I think it’s a massive boost for everyone. It’s been massive for everyone and I think everyone has learnt a lot. We’ve got to take it as a confidence and try and take it into the league and kick on in the league and get out of here.
“I think even if we had got a draw here it would have added an extra game, obviously it’s been a distraction, but it’s our job and everyone wants to go far in the FA Cup. But it’s out job and we’ve got to concentrate on the league now.”
On whether the run had proved a distraction, Rendell said: “You wouldn’t have thought so, but obviously with our league results that might prove that way. But when you are beating Wolves here and beating Norwich away it should bring nothing but confidence. And I’m sure like everyone else in there, I thought it was only going to kick us on, but it hasn’t proven to be that way because we’ve had a very, very poor run of form in the league.
“But now that is our prime objective like it has been all season, but now we can focus on that now because we are out of all the cups now and really knuckle down.”
And Henry’s refusing to give up on top spot, as he continued: “It’s probably a good thing that we’re out of the FA Cup now because we’ve just got one competition now we need to concentrate on and we’ve got to go for that with everything we’ve got. We can’t hold back, we’ve got 18 or so games to go now and we’ve got to play every game like it’s a cup final.
“I do believe definitely (we can win it). There’s no reason why we can’t do it. This league everyone beats everyone and if we can go on a run we will either get there though automatic or I would back ourselves in the play-offs with the fans we’ve got here.
“We’ve got to take positives from the FA Cup run. No team’s have ever done this before. We’ve gone a long way and I’m gutted talking to you here because I feel we could have gone on further.
“But we have to put this to back of our minds now because this will seem a great season obviously if we’ve done well in the FA Cup and we get promoted from the Conference to League Two – what a fantastic season. So the lads have got to put everything into that now.
“You cannot push the FA Cup to the back of your mind and play weaker teams in it in my opinion. It’s a great competition, it’s one we’ve all grown up with and we’ve enjoyed the run. It was no distraction from the league, it was no excuse, no excuses being in the FA Cup that we lost the other night. We’ve got to be on it every game, we’ve got good enough players in there so they need to prove it now.”
That view was shared by Rendell, who said: “I don’t see why not. We’ve got 18 games left. I think if we win all our three games in hand they are only eight points behind and we’ve still got to play them. It’s definitely not dead, it’s going to be a tough, tough objective to get there, but it’s still doable and that’s what the boys will get thinking from tomorrow morning.”