WARRIORS midfielder Marvelous Nakamba enjoyed a winning debut for his new club Luton Town, who beat former English Premier League side Stoke in a Championship match on Saturday.
Congolese Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu’s sixth-minute goal proved the difference as Town strengthened their position in the promotional play-off places.
Their victory, which was their sixth in seven league games, saw them consolidating their fourth position on the log standings with 48 points, the same number as third-placed Middlesbrough, who have played a game more.
Nakamba, who made the switch to Luton Town from English Premier League (EPL) side Aston Villa on a six-month loan deal last week, started the match on the bench.
The 29-year-old was introduced in the 62nd minute by manager Rob Edwards to shore things up and Luton managed to hang on in a tight contest as they claimed their second 1-0 home win in five days.
Another Warriors player Admiral Muskwe, who also plays for Town, did not feature in the match.
Muskwe, recalled by Luton following his loan spell at Sky Bet League One side Fleetwood Town last week, did not make the final squad at the weekend.
Luton Town are the only club in the current top six in the Championship race never to have played EPL football before.
And as the race enters the final stretch with the leading teams vying for automatic qualification positions and play-off spots, Edwards said his players were geared up for the battle against competitors with bigger budgets and bigger players.
“We know how difficult the challenge is, but we’ve put ourselves right in the mix and now given ourselves a great chance,” Edwards said.
The top two teams at the end of the season will automatically qualify into the EPL, while those on position three to six will participate in the promotional play-offs to secure the remaining ticket into the big time.
“Two wins here in a week is fantastic. Let’s realise why we’re in this position and enjoy it,” Edwards added.
“But, at the same time, we need to stay humble. The defenders were terrific, but they only back up the work done by the two forwards who work so hard up front and press so well.
“And the midfielders are so honest and hard-working, they back up the forwards’ work. We have really good players here, that are capable of playing at a very, very good level and they’re showing that now.
“There are big plans at the club to keep progressing and moving forward. I believe in these players, these lads are top players and they’re showing it.”
Nakamba was forced to find a new base after he was told by Aston Villa manager Unai Emery to leave the club.
The former Bantu Rovers star, whose brilliant spell of form under Emery’s predecessor Steven Gerrard last season, was cruelly cut short by an injury and he struggled for game time in the current campaign as he fell behind Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Jacob Ramsey and Boubacar Kamara in the midfield pecking order.
The Warriors man was yet to make an appearance for Villa this term.
His contract at the Birmingham-based side ends in 2024.
Luton’s next Championship test is at Coventry on Saturday.
But before then, the Hatters face an FA Cup fourth-round replay tomorrow night against League Two side Grimsby Town.