Hatters let victory slip from their grasp at Stevenage

Jake Jervis saw this header fly wide of the target
Jake Jervis saw this header fly wide of the target

League Two: Stevenage 1 Luton Town 1

A dramatic final five minutes saw Luton disappointingly let victory slip through their fingers against Stevenage at the Lamex this afternoon.

After a thoroughly uninspiring first 85 minutes on a terrible pitch, it had looked like the Hatters were going to steal victory away when James Collins netted from the penalty spot.

However, the visitors celebrations were cut short just two minutes later, as a corner was swung in and sub Danny Newton got up first to head in via the underside of the bar, rescuing a point.

The draw didn't harm Town's automatic promotion chances though as despite Accrington's excellent win at Coventry cutting their lead at the summit to six points, no other team in the top seven triumphed, meaning Nathan Jones' side increased their advantage to 10 points over fourth-placed Notts County.

Luton were unchanged for the clash, although striker Danny Hylton's place on the bench was taken by the fit-again Luke Gambin.

On a surface that was cutting up in the warm up and only went on to get worse, the hosts went close when Mark McKee's low free kick was hooked over the bar by ex-Town midfielder Jonathan Smith.

Hatters didn't create a great deal in the opening stages, their best opportunity when Olly Lee sent Harry Cornick away and keeper Tom King raced out of his box to get a crucial touch and force him away from goal.

Visiting stopper Marek Stech made a comfortable stop midway through the half from Johnny Goddard's curler, before Luton had finally created a genuine opportunity on the half hour.

Alan Sheehan's deep free kick was met by Glen Rea's downward header, Jake Jervis hooking over the top from close range.

In the latter stages of the half, Cornick sped away on the right reaching the byline where he hung a cross up for Jervis, who couldn't direct his header on target.

Cornick then tried his luck himself from 30 yards, swerving an effort that didn't come down in time, while Luke Berry used Dan Potts' run as a decoy, firing a bouncing attempt that King comfortably claimed.

Although shading the contest in the opening period, Luton were then on the back foot for the second half as Boro made the more purposeful start, the tricky Matt Godden finding space to cross for Revell, whose angled header dropped past the far post.

The hosts went close once more, when Revell again was in the right place to meet Goddard's run and delivery, directing his volley wide.

Clear-cut chances were sparse for the Hatters though, Cornick rifling over, as Boro continued to press, Goddard's ambitious effort flying wide as did Smith's.

With play getting more and more scrappy, Jones attempted to give his side more quality in possession, bringing on Andrew Shinnie for Jervis, but if anything, the Hatters' attacking efforts became more non-existent.

Boro looked the most likely to win it, having the better of possession and territory, although Cornick remained Luton's most likely outlet, winning a corner after going on the outside of Terence Vancooten.

Sheehan's delivery was missed by everyone, apart from Potts coming in at the far post, who could only prod wide.

However, with five minutes to go, Collins managed to win the ball and beat two markers as the space opened up in front of him.

He made it inside the area, clearly brought down by ex-Luton skipper Ronnie Henry as he went to shoot, with referee Darren Handley pointing to the spot.

Collins made no mistake, sending King the wrong way to net his first penalty in a Luton shirt, removing his in the process to earn a booking as the visitors celebrated wildly.

With the 1,900-strong Town fans believing victory was heading back to Bedfordshire, Hatters gave away an unnecessary corner with Lawson D'Ath heading behind and it was prove their undoing, Newton glancing in after only being on for the pitch for five minutes.

Both sides could have nicked it late on though, Collins slipping as he met Cornick's cross, volleying into the stands.

Boro then had a glorious opportunity in stoppage time, Stacey penalised for handball just outside the area, with Goddard curling wastefully over as the spoils were shared.

Boro: Tom King, Jonathan Smith, Jack King (Fraser Franks 42), Alex Revell, Johnny Goddard, Luke Amos (Ben Kennedy 73), Terence Vancooten, Matt Godden (Danny Newton 82), Ronnie Henry (C), Mark McKee, Ben Wilmot.

Subs not used: Joe Fryer, Luke Wilkinson, Tom Conlon, Dean Bowditch.

Hatters: Marek Stech, Jack Stacey, Dan Potts, Glen Rea, Alan Sheehan (C), Glen Rea, Flynn Downes (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 75), Olly Lee, Luke Berry (Lawson D'Ath 79), Harry Cornick, James Collins, Jake Jervis (Andrew Shinnie 61).

Subs not used: James Shea, James Justin, Lloyd Jones, Luke Gambin.

Referee: Darren Handley.

Booked: Henry 84, Collins 86, Wilmot 89. Potts 90.

Attendance: 4,365 (Luton 1,889).

Hatters MOM: Harry Cornick, Town's only real attacking outlet throughout.