Hatters hit back to remain unbeaten at Wycombe

League One: Wycombe Wanderers 1 Luton Town 1

Saturday, 1st September 2018, 7:01 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd September 2018, 12:18 pm
Matty Pearson celebrates after drawing the Hatters level at Wycombe
Matty Pearson celebrates after drawing the Hatters level at Wycombe

A penalty save from James Shea and Matty Pearson's second half equaliser ensured Luton Town maintained their long and lengthy unbeaten record at Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon.

Trailing 1-0 at the break after Joe Jacobson's first half spotkick, the Hatters, who were hugely disappointing in that opening 45 minutes, were in danger of suffering defeat at Adams Park for the first time in their history.

However, Shea stopped Jacobson from doubling his tally from the spot on the hour mark, with Town then instantly growing in confidence and looking a completely different outfit, levelling through Pearson before a tumultuous final minutes saw both sides create and ultimately miss chances to win it.

Luton boss Nathan Jones made two alterations to the side who beat Shrewsbury 3-2, James Justin and James Collins in for Danny Hylton and Jorge Grant, the latter dropping to the bench where he was joined by deadline day loan signing Eunan O'Kane.

Wycombe went close inside two minutes as a long free kick was headed across his own goal by Glen Rea, falling invitingly for centre back Anthony Stewart whose volley flew into the side-netting.

Randell Williams glanced wide, while Sonny Bradley was then involved at both ends, sending a looping header from Andrew Shinnie's corner that was cleared away off the line by Dominic Gape.

As Wanderers thumped a long ball forward on 15 minutes, Matt Bloomfield got on the wrong side of Bradley, who couldn't help but bring him down in the area, and despite already seeing yellow early on, avoided another booking as Luton fortunately kept a full complement of players on the pitch.

They still fell behind though, Jacobson stepping up to beat Shea, who was expecting an effort down the middle, unable to get down to his left in time.

That meant Luton have now conceded the opening goal for the sixth time in seven league and cup matches this term,having to hit back from going behind once more.

Jones' men struggled to really look like they were capable of doing during the remainder of the half, Justin's shot charged down about the closest they came.

With Adebayo Akinfenwa causing his customary nuisance, it was he who set up another opportunity, the ball rebounding away to Randell Williams whose daisy-cutter was well handled by Shea.

After the break, Wanderers remained a threat in the air, Mackail-Smith crossing for Williams, his glancing header easy for Shea.

Wycombe then won a second penalty on 58 minutes when a corner was sent in, James Collins penalised for a clear handball, although the visitors were incensed claiming the striker had been pushed before making contact with the ball.

Rea was booked and Jacobson stepped up again, but before he could take it, referee Darren England, alerted by the fourth official to something, came over to talk to Jones, before changing the caution to Collins.

After well over two minutes of waiting, Jacobson then eventually had his moment, going the same way once more, but this time so did Shea, who made a comfortable save, parrying behind for a corner, becoming the hero after last week's bizarre error against Shrewsbury Town.

Town's respite was almost brief, Akinfenwa's header clipping the bar, but Town thought they were level as Dan Potts went through to rifle into the net, unfortunately after the whistle had already gone for what looked like a dubious handball.

Mackail-Smith's hopeful long ranger was simple for Shea as Jones brought on new signing O'Kane for his Luton debut.

It was quite the introduction too as the on-loan Leeds man found Lee who tricked his way to the byline, dinking a cross that Allsop spilled, Pearson nodding into the vacant net from a matter of yards on 68 minutes.

Shea was extended once more, flipping Akinfenwa's clever volley over the top, but Luton were gaining momentum, O'Kane's effort blocked, while Lee's cross-shot was just missing a final touch from a lurking team-mate.

O'Kane continued to impress with one lovely dink over his man saw Lee set himself for a half volley, skewing it off target, while he then picked out Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu whose ripsnorter was repelled.

The Irishman's quality on the ball wasn't in question, as after Stewart went on a crazy burst out of defence to lose possession, he found Lee, who cut on his right, his precise side-footer destined for the bottom corner, but for the fingertips of Allsop.

Fred Onyedinma put an effort wide which led to a frantic and a quite frankly exhausting final stages.

First, Shea made a smart reaction stop to prevent Stewart from finding the net, although the corner led to a four on one charge by the Town, led by Harry Cornick.

With players bursting forward on either side, he picked out Potts to his right, only for the full back to put his effort far too close to Allsop.

Jason McCarthy sliced wide, before Allsop redeemed himself fully, with a magnificent save from Mpanzu's 25-yarder, the ball clipping the inside of the post and then fortunately bouncing back into the prostate keeper's grateful arms.

Morris's 20-yarder was grabbed by Shea while Luton's last chance saw an O'Kane free kick met by Bradley, his downward header bouncing wide, as Town climbed up to ninth in the table, stretching their unbeaten run at Wycombe to an impressive 14 games in the process.

Wanderers: Ryan Allsop, Jason McCarthy, Joe Jacobson, Sido Jombati, Anthony Stewart, Dominic Gape, Bryn Morris, Matt Bloomfield (C Curtis Thompson 48), Randell Williams (Scott Kashket 80), Craig Mackail-Smith (Fred Onyedinma 70) Adebayo Akinfenwa.

Subs not used: Yves Ma-Kalambay, Sam Saunders, Michael Harriman, Nick Freeman.

Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley, Dan Potts, Glen Rea (C), James Justin (Harry Cornick 53), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Andrew Shinnie (Eunan O'Kane 65), Elliot Lee, James Collins.

Subs not used: Marek Stech, Alan McCormack, Jorge Grant, Lloyd Jones, Alan Sheehan.

Booked: Bradley 5, Morris 26, Collins 58, Thompson 90, Jombati 90.

Referee: Darren England.

Attendance: 6,072.