Hatters held after O'Donnell's stunner
League Two: Luton Town 1 Yeovil Town 1
Hatters defender Stephen O’Donnell scored quite possibly the goal of his life, but it wasn’t enough to earn his side victory against Yeovil Town this afternoon.
With cries of ‘shooooot’ from the home faithful, the full back did just that, absolutely walloping his first-time 25-yarder into the top corner for only his second goal in Luton colours midway through the first half.
However, the exertions of Wednesday night’s EFL cup heroics against Aston Villa catching up with them, the Glovers hit back with 13 minutes to go, Tom Eaves rising highest to head past Christian Walton, for an equaliser the visitors deserved due to their spirited second half display.
Town boss Nathan Jones made three changes, as Dan Potts was available again after suspension, replacing James Justin, while Scott Cuthbert came in alongside Johnny Mullins at centre half, with Glen Rea pushing into defensive midfield for Olly Lee.
Despite scoring on his debut in midweek, Jake Gray dropped to the bench, with Jordan Cook back in, while both ex-Hatters Alex Lawless and Alex Lacey were in for the away side’s XI.
Despite bossing possession early on, with Yeovil clearly intent on being hard to break down, Hatters could create any worthwhile chances, as it was the visitors who threatened first, Matthew Dolan’s shot over by Johnny Mullins’ outstretched leg.
However, Glovers keeper Artur Krysiak then somehow kept the scores goalless, sticking out a hand to wonderfully tip Glen Rea’s powerful header over the top, with most of Kenilworth Road already clearing their throats to celebrate a goal.
From the following corner, Yeovil might have had an opener too though, breaking four on two with Ryan Hedges dragging wide of the mark.
However, out of nowhere, Town had the lead, through one of the most unlikely sources too, thanks to O’Donnell’s wonder strike.
With the deadlock broken, Yeovil started to venture further forward, Otis Khan shooting straight at Walton from distance, while Hedges was high and wide.
However, that created gaps for Hatters to work with, Jack Marriott stinging Krysiak’s palms from Cook’s incisive pass.
Former Hatter Lacey then saw his afternoon ended as after taking an early, nasty tumble over the hoardings when going shoulder to shoulder with Hylton, he struggled on manfully, eventually had to concede defeat.
Hatters looked for a killer second before the break and probably should have got it, an off balance Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu somehow hammering wide from eight yards, while Hylton couldn’t finish from a yard out, Bevis Mugabi managing to clear the danger in the nick of time.
Still Luton continued to press, Marriott’s angled drive flashing narrowly wide with centre half Johnny Mullins unable to apply the finishing touch at the far post.
Town’s passing wasn’t quite what it should have been at times, particularly out from the back and they almost paid the price on the stroke of half time, Hedge’s shot requiring Walton to divert clear.
After the break, some brilliant defending from Dan Potts prevented Yeovil making the most of a three on two situation, before Tom Eaves had the ball in the net, only to find the flag up for clear offside in the build-up.
Some simple but oh so effective link up play between Hylton and Marriott saw the latter collect a flick on and fire into the stands.
The Glovers were becoming far more of a threat now though, Eaves testing Walton from 20 yards, the keeper showing excellent handling once more.
Luton, who were clearly starting to tire the more the match progressed, almost had a pressure-relieving second, when Hylton’s effort deflected up and over Krysiak, but fell narrowly wide.
Walton continued his impressive display, making a brilliant save low down from Tahvon Campbell’s instinctive outside of the boot effort, while Town’s front two combined once more, with a similar result from Marriott.
Luton’s on-loan stopper Walton was called upon to deny Campbell yet again from further out this time, while Yeovil almost walked the ball in soon afterwards, until Ryan Dickson was denied by a brave Cuthbert block.
However, the pressure finally told with 13 minutes to go when a deep cross was met by Eaves with this time, Walton unable to keep the header out.
Luton boss Nathan Jones had thrown all his subs on by now, and it was Gray who almost put the hosts back in front, wide from the edge of the box, before O’Donnell fancied another scorcher, but this term his swerving attempt wouldn’t come down in time.
The Gloves almost snatched it at the death too, Dolan sending a free kick into Walton’s midriff and then seeing his late set-piece skim the top of the bar.
Although dropping points, Luton remained top of the table, with no side able to string two wins together, will be looking to stay there when Newport County visit Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night.
Hatters: Christian Walton, Stephen O’Donnell, Dan Potts, Johnny Mullins, Scott Cuthbert, Glen Rea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Jake Gray 58), Jordan Cook, Cameron McGeehan, (Jonathan Smith 65), Danny Hylton, Jack Marriott (Isaac Vassell 86).
Subs not used: Craig King, Josh McQuoid, James Justin, Olly Lee.
Yeovil: Artur Krysiak, Matthew Dolan, Bevis Mugabi, Alex Lacey (Tahvon Campbell 32), Kevin Dawson, Alex Lawless, Tom Eaves (Omar Sowunmi 83), Otis Khan, Ryan Dickson (C), Matt Butcher, Ryan Hedges.
Subs not used: Nathan Smith, Jonathan Maddison, Joe Lea, Ollie Bassett.
Bookings: Dickson 47, Eaves 70, Marriott 77, Potts 90.
Attendance: 7,800 (303 Yeovil).