Russell Martin | We showed incredible courage and character
Swansea City head coach Russell Martin hailed his players for their courage and character following a sensational second-half comeback to earn a point at Luton Town.
The Swans left themselves a huge deficit to overturn at Kenilworth Road as they conceded three times in just 24 minutes.
But the Swans looked completely rejuvenated after the interval, and an incredible fightback saw them leave Luton with a point thanks to goals from Jamie Paterson and substitutes Olivier Ntcham and Joel Piroe.
In a grandstand finish, the Swans – as unlikely as it seemed at half-time – could have gone on to win it, but Michael Obafemi was denied by the Luton defence in the final seconds.
And despite highlighting his disappointment with the first-half display, Martin was delighted with the reaction his team showed in earning a point.
“First of all, let’s get the negative out of the way – the first half was nowhere near where we want to be or have been in the last two games,” said the Swans boss.
“We were really disappointed with how that went, and the beauty of the process and clarity in what you’re doing is that we’ll learn from it for sure. It can’t happen again, it won’t happen again.
“We spoke about Luton’s threat and the intensity and aggression they’d bring early on, but we didn’t cope with that at all.
“We turned down really good opportunities to keep the ball in their half and dominate territory, but we didn’t do it in the first half.
“The second half was incredible. I’m so grateful to the guys and so proud of them – the guys that came on, and the players who were already on the pitch feeling that pain, that took some real courage to dig in and to play that way.
“We were outstanding and we should have won it in the end. It was attack versus defence in the second half. They had a couple of moments on the counter, but that will happen when we play like that.
“The players took big responsibility. They showed how much they believed in it, and each other.."
Martin made three changes from the team that had started against Millwall in midweek due a variety of reasons, but it was the impact of substitutes Ntcham and Piroe that gave the Swans some real impetus in the second half.
Ntcham, looking composed and a real threat going forward, set up Paterson for the Swans' first goal before he rifled a 25-yard effort into the top corner to make it 3-2 - his first goal for the club - in the final few minutes.
Piroe then calmly slotted home into the bottom corner to level matters in stoppage time as the Jack Army went wild behind the goal.
Martin added: “We had our best players on the pitch, and that’s something we’ve not been able to do because of covid, pre-season injuries and fitness.
“Olivier couldn’t do three games from the start because he’s not done a pre-season, Ben Cabango was completely wiped out from Wednesday and his covid bout, Flynn Downes the same – that’s why he came off – and Joel Piroe is getting up to speed in the Championship, so that’s why we’ve had to make these changes.
“That’s why I am consistent in what I say in the media. I believe in the players so much that when we keep these guys on the pitch then we will be more than competitive, and I’m so grateful.
“It shows the guys have character, togetherness and believe in what we’re doing."