UPDATED: Still reveals he reacted like a ‘little kid’ to Cullen equaliser

Normally-composed Hatters boss John Still admitted he reacted like a “little kid” when Mark Cullen netted a spectacular last-minute equaliser in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Cambridge United, writes Mark Wood.

Cambridge United v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 11. PNL-141203-101917002
Cambridge United v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 11. PNL-141203-101917002

The level headed Town chief had treated it like “any other game”, but admitted his emotions had for once gotten the better of him.

On how he’d approached the game, Still said: “It was really weird In the game the other night. It was a big game for Cambridge.

“And if we had been Cambridge it would have been a really big game.

“And it’s funny, all day I knew my team, knew what I was going to do and how I was going to approach things and I never really felt ‘big game’, I didn’t.

“It was another game, another game, another game. And even on arriving there and the start of the game, with the supporters the atmosphere was fantastic.

“It really was for me like just any other game, except from when we scored, I was like a little kid.

“I was, I have to say that. I don’t know where it came from because I haven’t really experienced it.

“Maybe it’s just how I approach things and keep things professional to do it right.

“But when we scored I did feel the emotion of it, maybe what was off the pitch spilled over on to on the pitch in terms of the emotion.

“I was like a little kid when we scored. Regained my composure eventually, and I knew, I was under no illusions that if I’d been in the other dressing room I would have been saying, ‘listen, if we have a chance of catching Luton, this is the opportunity that we can take because it’s in our hands’.”

He also revealed that a “horrible, not free-flowing, stop-start, not open, tight” game had been the exact type of encounter he had hoped for.

Still continued: “It’s funny, I do go big into stats, but only with certain stats. I don’t sort of delve too deep into things that don’t seem important.

“Because sometimes you see people have had 60 per cent possession and lose 3-0 or something like that.

“Possession I think gave it 51-49 to us - I’m not quite sure that’s about right.

“It’s funny if somebody said to me before the game, what are you hoping for?

“I’d go we play absolutely fantastic and win 4-0. But I’m a realist.

“And in my mind I wanted a horrible, not free-flowing, stop-start game, because I felt if the game was going to be open and free-flowing, I’m not saying their players would be more up for it than us, but I felt it was big throw of the dice for them.

“I was happy to have a stop-start, not free-flowing, not open, tight game, that’s what I was hoping. And I think that’s exactly what we got.

“I think they had more of the ball than us, but more of the ball out of our third.

“I don’t think they had too many balls in our third. I can’t remember Mark Tyler coming for anything more than one or two crosses.

“I think Mark Tyler made one decent save and a goal, I can’t remember us being under pressure, backs to the wall.

“I can’t remember that at all, I thought they had the edge, especially in the first half, without creating very much.

“I thought that the second half was very, very even. They scored and we scored - other than that I can’t remember too much action and if I could have picked the type of game I was hoping for then that was the type of game I was hoping for.

“I was hoping we wouldn’t be behind, but we were and we got a response to that, we made changes and without taking anything away from Cambridge who gave everything they had, it was a great night for Luton Town.”

With Cambridge trailing the Hatters by 15 points going into the game, Still admitted he knew the U’s were likely to be highly motivated to get a win.

However, the result left the U’s trailing by the same margin, and the encounter reminded Still of the time he secured the Conference title with former club Dagenham & Redbridge.

He said: “Like I say about controlling the controllables. Once that game’s over it’s not within them, it moves on.

“They had a chance to narrow the gap to 12 points and with a game in hand to possibly nine points.

“And they I would guess, because I would, would be using that.

“That’s still a fair way off, but it’s closer. So in my mind I knew how tough the game would be.

“I knew they would give every single ounce of what they’ve got because of what it was.

“The funny thing is Terry (Harris) and myself, we’ve been that soldier before with the Dagenham side when we won the league about the same time of the year.

“We went to Oxford and they were 11 point behind us. We were 1-0 up and 2-1 down and I think we scored and equalised in about the 90th-minute.

“So we’ve been that soldier before in that position. So I knew it was possibly a pivotal moment, maybe not for us, but maybe for them.

“Because they would have been feeling quite good about themselves, and quite rightly as well might I add, if it had stayed 1-0.

“Still with a lot to do, but they would have been feeling good about themselves.

“I was fully aware of that, but I think the emotions between the players and unbelievable support we had on the day contributed to the feelgood feeling with us.”

Luton are currently 27 league games unbeaten, with their last two away matches having been two of the most difficult fixtures they will face all season.

And despite having only managed 0-0 and 1-1 draws, they have still been able to extend their lead at the top by another point.

Still added: “We’re at the business end of the season now, we know that and we’ve just got to work as hard as we can, as hard as we have been working.

“It’s funny really, we’ve played I think two tough away games the last two games.

“Away to Salisbury, whose home record is very good, away to Cambridge who are our nearest challengers, and we’ve taken two points and we’re a point better off than before those two games on the teams around us, so it shows you how important those two points were.

“Sometimes at this stage in the season people are fighting for different things.

“We’re playing teams that can maybe get in the play-offs, we’re going to play some teams that want to not be in that bottom four and you’re playing some teams that have a lot to play for.

“The games are really going to be tough so we have to be tough.

“We have to be mentally tough and if our football isn’t always as open and free-flowing as it has been it’s just part and parcel sometimes of winning things.

“They’re tough and we have to make sure we’re tough and competitive first, and if we can be, hope that our football comes into play.

“It’s really weird because I think the best passage of football the other night was our goal was the best passage of football of the game.

“I thought it was a great passage of football, we moved the ball in the middle of the park, we moved it well.”