Hatters' can't quite close the gap on Argyle

Danny Hylton scores Luton's opener this afternoon
Danny Hylton scores Luton's opener this afternoon

League Two: Luton Town 1 Plymouth Argyle 1

Despite plenty of huff and no little puff, Luton just couldn't make further inroads on the division's top two in this afternoon after being held to a 1-1 draw by Plymouth.

Coming into the game on the back of an identical scoreline at Doncaster, this was a real opportunity for the Hatters to claw back some ground on Argyle, who started eight points clear of Nathan Jones' side.

However, despite an engrossing first half in which Luton took an early lead through top scorer Danny Hylton's superb finish, they were pegged back by Craig Tanner's close-range strike midway through.

The second period then never really came to life, with Argyle quite rightly accepting a draw would be more than enough to keep Town at arm's length, while Luton couldn't break down a defence that has been virtually watertight on their travels this term.

Although it now looks like the top two places will prove beyond the Hatters, despite Doncaster being held by Accrington, Carlisle's 3-0 home defeat to Portsmouth did see Jones' side cut the gap to four points on third, despite being leapfrogged by Pompey in the process.

The hosts were unchanged when the teams were announced, only for full back Stephen O'Donnell to pull up injured in the warm-up, the third time it's happened to Luton this term and was replaced by James Justin.

Hatters should have had a penalty inside five minutes as former Argyle striker Isaac Vassell picked the pocket of Yann Songo'o and was clipped in the area by Sonny Bradley, with referee Darren Drysdale awarding a corner, despite the centre half getting none of the ball.

However, Luton did have the lead on eight minutes when Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu burst from deep and clipped the ball over the top for Hylton, who did superbly under pressure to bring it down and then poke over keeper Luke McCormick.

Mpanzu then went alone from distance, McCormick gathering his volley at the second attempt, as Hatters seemed content to allow their visitors to have the ball and try to counter through the blistering pace of Vassell.

The visitors were level on 26 minutes though when an exquisite backheel by Ryan Taylor was taken up by Graham Carey and his low cross was perfect for Tanner to turn home from close range.

Plymouth threatened briefly, Songo'o's header easy for Macey, before Luton went close, Hylton's angled drive gathered by McCormick.

After a first period that was engrossing for the 9,124 inside Kenilworth Road, just short of a season's high, the second period began well too, Bradley clearing Jordan Cook's low cross before Hylton could pounce.

Hylton almost had his second from Mpanzu's eagle-eyed vision too, just unable to climb high enough to convert the midfielder's deep cross at the far post and then forced McCormick to palm away his cross-shot moments later..

Taylor came close for the visitors on 73 minutes, his shot deflecting into the side-netting, with Sonny Bradley glancing over the top.

It appeared Hatters were only going to score through Hylton, the forward's header was grabbed on the line by McCormick, as although Jones threw on Ollie Palmer and Luke Gambin, they couldn't really affect the game as he would have liked, with Argyle giving little or nothing away.

Jones then made his last throw of the dice with Jack Marriott on for Jack Senior, going for a front three in the final 10 minutes.

Hylton almost put Palmer through but Oscar Threlkeld came out of nowhere to save the day with a full length diving header, typifying the visitors' defensive qualities.

With three minutes to go, Hatters finally opened up the visiting back-line as Cook's lovely cross was just missed by Hylton, with Palmer unable to apply the finishing touch at the back post.

Argyle almost grabbed a bonus winner, forcing two corners late on, but Drysdale's whistle blew before the second could be taken, with both sides sharing the spoils.

Hatters: Matt Macey, James Justin, Jack Senior (Jack Marriott 78), Scott Cuthbert (C), Alan Sheehan, Glen Rea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jonathan Smith (Luke Gambin 62), Jordan Cook, Isaac Vassell (Ollie Palmer 62), Danny Hylton.

Subs not used: Stuart Moore, Lawson D'Ath, Johnny Mullins, Jake Gray.

Argyle: Luke McCormick, Gary Sawyer, Yann Songo'o, Graham Carey, Sonny Bradley, Matthew Kennedy (Ryan Donaldson 69), Oscar Threlkeld, Ryan Taylor, David Fox (Jakub Sokolik 46), Craig Tanner (James Spencer 65).

Subs not used: Nauros Bulvitis, Jordan Slew, Jake Jervis, Vincent Dorel.

Booked: Smith 17, Cook 43.

Attendance: 9,124 (1,027 Argyle)

Referee: Darren Drysdale

Hatters MOM: Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu. Midfielder kept prodding away to try and open Argyle up.