Luton boss Rob Edwards admitted his side deserved to be on the end of an upset as they crashed out of the Carabao Cup with a 1-0 defeat at Exeter.
Demetri Mitchell scored the only goal of the game in the 83rd minute, poking in from close range from Yanic Wildschut’s cross, before he was sent off two minutes from time after collecting a second yellow card.
Toothless Luton, who made 10 changes from their Premier League draw with Wolves, rarely troubled League One Exeter, who reached round four for the first time since 1989 and claimed their first top-flight scalp since beating Leicester in the FA Cup back in 1981.
Edwards said: “It was a disappointing night for us clearly. Congratulations to Exeter, I have got to say that. With all of the possession we had tonight, we didn’t look like we were going to score.
“We need to be better, more aggressive, more clinical and have more desire to create chances and, when we do, be more ruthless.
“We can’t keep saying the same things at the moment. We have been sucker-punched out of a mistake on our part and we have not had the quality or desire to get the ball over the line and ultimately we got punished and don’t deserve to go through.
“I do want more. There wasn’t a lack of commitment or effort, I would never label that at our group, but I want to see more quality in that final third.
“As the game started opening up, we started to cause more problems for them, but they defended the box very well with high numbers and that is difficult to break down.
“We wanted to go deep into the competition, but we needed to make the changes we made.”
Exeter manager Gary Caldwell hailed a magnificent “team effort” from his side.
“I am really proud of the players, they were absolutely incredible tonight,” Caldwell said. “We had to come up with a game plan and we had one day to work on it and they performed it to the letter.
“In the beginning, I thought we understood it, but we weren’t quite aggressive enough and, as the game wore on, we got better, they got more frustrated and it was an amazing win.
“Full credit to the players for the effort, the desire to not concede, to fight for the team, to fight for each other – it was unbelievable.
“I said we were hoping for a special night under the lights at St James Park and I think we got it.
“Everyone was amazing tonight, the finishers that came on as well. It was a real team effort tonight and everyone deserves credit.
“This stadium is special and we want anyone to come here and we believe that, on our day, when we get it right, then we can be a real match for anyone.
“That’s the spirit and belief I want to get into these players and tonight will give them confidence.