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Osho was confident Town would be too strong for Black Cats as he insists first leg criticism was deserved

Hatters defender Gabe Osho was always confident his side would have enough to overpower Sunderland in their play-off semi-final second leg clash at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night after insisting they deserved any criticism that came their following the first leg defeat.

Following a 2-1 defeat at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, there were some who doubted the Hatters after a second half display in which, roared on by 46,000 fans, the Black Cats were on top, although bar Trai Hume’s goal, didn’t really send much to bother keeper Ethan Horvath.

With home advantage and a raucous Kenilworth Road crowd behind them, Luton set about wiping the deficit away thanks to Osho’s early goal, before Tom Lockyer headed the Hatters into a 2-0 lead on the night just before the break.

Town then maintained that advantage throughout the second half to triumph 3-2 on aggregate and book their place at Wembley on May 27, as Osho said: “I think we let ourselves down in the second half (at Sunderland), but we spoke about it literally straight after the game.

“We knew we had this game coming, it was going to be at home, we know the way we play would favour us in this as opposed to the way they play at their place.

“So we just thought if we just do what we do best, we should overpower them and we did.

“That’s why there wasn’t really much concern after the Saturday game.

Gabe Osho is mobbed after opening the scoring for Luton against SunderlandGabe Osho is mobbed after opening the scoring for Luton against Sunderland
Gabe Osho is mobbed after opening the scoring for Luton against Sunderland

“We knew that coming back here would be a much different game and suit us a lot better so we knew we had to be ourselves and we were.

“Once we go ahead at home, we’ve recently been solid and I think we all knew, if we can keep a clean sheet you probably end up going through.

“It came to fruition, all that hard work over the last week or so, even since the away game, less so on the pitch, but more tactically, in the analysis room, between the players, all came good and we’re through.”

Luton had managed to make it into the play-offs after a terrific season which had seen them finish in third place, but despite that, there were still murmurs of discontent for their display in the second 45 minutes in the north east.

Although it hadn’t affected Osho or his team-mates, he had accepted it, continuing: “It was deserved as in the second half we were way, way below our standards.

“We knew that, the gaffer let us know that, obviously we don’t really listen to what’s going on outside, but when you know yourself you don’t need to hear that.

“We just knew we needed to go into Tuesday and perform better, be ourselves and we’d get the win.”

Once Lockyer had put Luton in front, they still had 45 minutes of play-off football to go, but rather than try and sit on their lead, the Hatters went looking for a second, Jordan Clark and Cody Drameh both missing open goals, while Elijah Adebayo went close too.

That attacking intent was something Osho felt was vital, as he added: “It’s important as they have good, technical players, so if you sit in, chances are in 45 minutes they’re going to create something really, really dangerous.

“The gaffer really got into us at half time and said make sure you do not do that and we didn’t.

“I think we learned from Saturday, as Saturday we did sit in and they took control of the game.

“They have a few players that can produce special moments, that’s what we realised in the first game.

“They can just not be doing much and then just come up with something crazy, so they still had little bits, but nothing of substance.

“We defended well, we knew it was going to be a tough game, so as a back-line we’re really happy we kept their forward threats quiet.”

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