Michael O’Neill challenged Stoke to build on the momentum of back-to-back wins after Nick Powell inspired a 3-0 Sky Bet Championship victory over Luton.
Powell, brought to the club by Luton’s former Potters boss Nathan Jones, struck after 20 and 63 minutes, with Steven Fletcher netting a third 12 minutes from time.
Stoke face fellow play-off hopefuls Barnsley on Wednesday, with manager O’Neill saying: “We have an opportunity to win three games in a row, which does not happen very often, especially in the Championship.
“We’ve got to continue this momentum. Momentum is a word used a lot in football but it’s in our own hands.
“We’ve given ourselves a chance to build on this performance and result.”
Powell and Fletcher have 18 goals between them this season and O’Neill hopes there are more to come.
“It was a good piece of play by Steven,” he said of Fletcher’s unselfish assist for Powell’s opener. “I thought he was very good, so it was good for him to get a goal as well.
“It was difficult in the wind, but you could see the quality of those two linking together.
“You want to win games more than 1-0 because the opposition are always in it. So it was nice in the second half to score again and eventually run out 3-0 winners.
“We could have added to the tally, but the important thing was to win and the clean sheet is a nice thing to have as well.
“I’m not looking at the table,” he said of Stoke’s ninth place, four points off the play-off places. “I know we are on 45 points, which is my main priority.”
O’Neill subbed Powell after he had made it 2-0, and explained: “You have to manage your squad, so it was good to give Nick that bit of a rest because he takes a lot of contact as well.”
Hatters chief Nathan Jones was scathing about his team’s performance.
“When you come back to your old club you really want your players to step up and battle but we were miles off,” Jones said.
“That was the worst performance I’ve had as Luton manager and coincidence it has come at my old club.
“Credit to Stoke, they were better than us all over, in every single department.
“We were inept and the leaders, the strong ones I would like to rely on, were nowhere near.”
Powell showed with his goals and display why Jones brought him to the east midlands from Wigan in 2019.
“I signed Nick for lots of good reasons,” he said of the one-time Manchester United prospect. “But not for his aggression on the back stick.
“He showed more aggression than our right-back. That summed up the day for us.
“From the first minute to the last I was disappointed. There is nothing I can look back on and think ‘we did okay there’.
“We were well beaten and that was the disappointing thing.
“You can’t have 10 of your players – I don’t think the goalkeeper lost his battle – way off in every single department.”
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