Mick Harford admitted his table-topping Luton side felt under pressure before their trip to Accrington – but a 3-0 win helped to ease their nerves.
Luton’s 28-game unbeaten league run came to an end last week and every team around them won on Good Friday, piling further pressure on Saturday’s game.
Harford said it was always going to be a tricky game at the Wham Stadium but they secured the all-important win which moves them five points clear at the top.
James Collins saw a penalty saved in the third minute but made amends in the 24th when he tucked home his second spot-kick to take his tally to 23 goals this season.
Stanley goalkeeper Dimi Evtimov had picked up a yellow card for the first penalty and was shown a second yellow, and given his marching orders, for the second, with Accrington playing for around 70 minutes with 10 men.
Pelly Ruddock made the points safe in the 68th minute, firing home after Matty Pearson had headed down a corner, and midfielder Ruddock scored a third from the edge of the area three minutes from time.
“We did feel under pressure because of the results yesterday and we knew this was a difficult place to come to,” said Harford.
“The teams around us all won and that put us under pressure.
“The sending off had a bearing on the game. James had his first penalty saved but he showed courage to take the second one and score. That’s his passion, scoring goals, and he had the nerve to take and score the second penalty.
“You have got to give credit to Accrington, though, as even with 10 men they kept their shape and passed the ball about and made it difficult for us, that’s commendable.
“Then we moved Pelly further forward and he got the two goals his performance deserved, he was excellent.
“I am delighted with the result, it was a professional job, we had to scrap and fight and Accrington Stanley made it hard but we got over the line.
“Players are bound to be nervy and edgy at this stage of the season and we had lost our unbeaten run but we were fully focused today and we showed that in our performance.
“All we can do now, and I must sound like a repeat record, is concentrate on our own business.”
Stanley, who pipped Luton to the League Two title last season, find themselves in a relegation battle.
They are three points above the bottom four with three games to play.
“Luton are a good side and it was always going to be difficult playing against them,” said Stanley boss John Coleman.
“I thought we matched them for the first 20 minutes and gifted them a stupid penalty and got away with it with a good save from Dimi.
“I think if anyone was playing the better football in the first 25 minutes, it was us.
“We had a game-plan and I thought they were going to try and play and they didn’t. They realised the pitch wasn’t conducive to playing football.
“They turned us at every opportunity, we lost our script and we got punished for it, trying to go back to the keeper too often.
“I have no complaints about either penalty and no complaints for the sending off. That’s football, you have to dust yourselves down and go again.”