Rob Edwards says Luton “impersonated” Tom Lockyer in win over Newcastle.

Rob Edwards said Luton’s 1-0 win over Newcastle was the “epitome” of their captain Tom Lockyer as his side moved to within two points of Premier League safety.

It was Luton’s first game since Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest in the abandoned away game against Bournemouth last Saturday.

The 29-year-old’s name was chanted throughout the competition at Kenilworth Road and the club had his shirt laid out in the dressing room before the game in his honour.

Andros Townsend headed the only goal of the first half, sneaking in at the back post after Ross Barkley took Alfie Doughty’s corner and nodding past Martin Dubravka to deafening cheers from the home fans.

Newcastle piled up the pressure in search of going behind, but it was Edwards’ side who came closest to their tally.

First, Barkley hit a shot off the underside of the crossbar, a blistering 30-yard drive that beat Dubravka at full speed, before Jacob Brown did the same in the second half after being played through with good work by Elijah Adebayo.

Alexander Isak thought he had equalized by pushing the ball past Thomas Kaminski into the far corner after a pass from Miguel Almiron, only for the VAR to judge that he was slightly offside.

Edwards said his team went into the game looking to win for the absent captain, who was released from the hospital on Thursday.

“I’m incredibly proud of everyone,” he said. “It was a really challenging week. This is not what you are taught in coaching courses. I needed my team around me.

“The players were great, really brave. We gathered around each other.

“It was difficult to concentrate on a football game this week. My focus was on Tom and my family, but then there was a job to do, an important Premier League game. We all helped each other.

“The performance was probably the most complete performance we have had this season.

“We played really well. I don’t think we won the game today because of what happened.

“We talked about it, we wanted to do it for Tom. But I don’t think there was any additional motivation. Today we embodied everything that Tom Lockyer is.”

This result leaves Luton just shy of a win against Nottingham Forest, who were beaten 3-2 at home by Bournemouth with a last-gasp goal.

Despite an important three points, Edwards’ focus after the game was firmly on Lockyer.

“Today was about doing it for Tom,” he said. “He is a leader and an inspiration figure for us.

“A football game pales into insignificance at this moment. It still feels a bit strange coming in here and talking about a football game.

“When you talk about someone’s life, it doesn’t matter.”

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe reflected on a disappointing defeat, his team’s fourth in a row away to St James’ Park.

“We have talked about it internally, we know how important away form is,” he said.

“We have to be consistent in home and away form. Our away form made that clear today; we didn’t hold up well in the first half. We were reactive instead of proactive.

“We have an incredible group but I was disappointed with the first half. I thought we needed more emotion and energy for our performance.”

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