Joey Barton said promoted Luton Town have shown what can be achieved with good recruitment and effort after his Fleetwood Town side ended big-spending Sunderland’s automatic promotion hopes.
READ MORE: Fleetwood's late winner stuns Black Cats
The Black Cats can no longer finish in the top two after Ashley Nadesan’s last-gasp goal saw Town overturn a 1-0 deficit to beat them 2-1 at Highbury last night.
Portsmouth also lost to Peterborough, meaning Luton and Barnsley are promoted from League One with one game to go.
Sunderland must settle for the play-offs and Barton said: “There are lots of differences between us as a football club and Sunderland. We are little old Fleetwood. It was a bit of a David v Goliath and our lads stepped up.
“Look at our bench – Jack Sowerby and our keeper Paul Jones are the only senior players. Two 17-year-olds.
“Their bench is what you get when you spend the amount they spend. We have to keep chugging away. Luton have shown that it is doable. With great recruitment and the effort of players you can achieve great things.”
Barton said the win set down a “huge marker” and added: “We have nothing to play for. We are 1-0 down and they are causing us problems but we keep going and going.
“We could easily have settled for 1-1 but we get ourselves into a position to get a corner and win it.
“It’s the first time we have come from behind to win and it felt like more than three points. That does a lot for us in terms of our momentum and the spirit we want to build and harness going into the last game of the season and for next season.”
Victory was achieved without the injured Ched Evans and Harry Souttar. Barton said: “We were up against it in the first half. It was always going to be tough if you have not got some of your more established players in the team.
“We made a subtle change at half-time (introducing Jack Sowerby for Eddie Clarke). I challenged the lads to dig a performance out and in the second half we looked the hungrier side. We looked the side that was trying to win for automatic promotion.
“I’m delighted with the lads. I’m so proud of this group. They never know when they are beaten. As a manager there is no more you can ask for.”