League Two: Grimsby Town 1 Luton Town 1
Danny Hylton missed a stoppage time penalty as Luton Town were held to a 1-1 draw at Grimsby this afternoon.
The visitors, who had recovered from going a goal behind early in the second half thanks to Isaac Vassell's third strike in as many games, had a wonderful opportunity to win it, when Gavin Gunning was penalised for a handball inside the area.
Hylton stepped up with virtually the last kick, but saw his attempt blocked by the legs of James McKeown, who was only playing due to Manchester United recalling on-loan stopper Dean Henderson on Friday morning.
Although Hylton nodded home the rebound, official Mark Haywood disallowed the goal for a foul, meaning Luton had to make do with a draw that on the balance of play, was about all they really deserved.
Prior to kick off, Luton made two changes to the side, with a now mask-less Hylton straight back in after completing his two game ban for Jack Marriott, while Jake Gray replaced the injured Jonathan Smith.
Hatters weren't far away on five minutes, Hylton flicking on Luke Gambin's corner, with a home defender stabbing narrowly over the top, which was about as good as it got for the 468 travelling fans in the opening period.
Keeper Stuart Moore had a quieter start than his debut in midweek, having to shovel Danny Andrew's free kick behind for a corner.
With little quality on show in the first half, Grimsby created the best chance on 27 minutes, when Jack Senior panicked not once but twice from Glen Rea's square pass, although Calum Dyson could only head the resulting cross over.
The hosts then pressed again, with Moore stretching to tip a corner away and when the ball was played back in, Ben Davies' low attempt didn't miss by much.
A desperately poor first 45 saw Town's only chances of note never test McKeown, Jordan Cook scuffing well wide and then Gray lashing over, as Grimsby's Jamey Osborne, who had netted twice against Luton for Solihull in the FA Cup earlier this season, tried to make it third time lucky, shooting wide of the mark.
In the second period, Hatters made a brighter start, inches away from moving in front on 53 minutes when Grimsby gifted the ball back outside their own area, Hylton spinning to beat McKeown, only for Brandon Comley to clear off the line.
Town went close once more, Gray cleverly picking out the run of Vassell, who with the angle against him, forced McKeown into a decent stop at his near post.
However, despite Luton having their best spell, the hosts then took the lead on 56 minutes as a bout of pinball in the home defence saw the visitors fail to clear their lines more than once, as Ben Davies' cross was powered home by Chris Clements.
Hatters brought on Ollie Palmer for his Luton debut, plus Alan Sheehan, replacing the ineffective Luke Gambin and Gray, with Town changing to a front three and opting to go long to the striker whenever possible, which worked too, as they were back in the game with 13 minutes to go.
Mpanzu, who impressed once more, deserved great credit for not giving up a lost cause on the left hand side, and after reaching the byline, fired in a cross that the unmarked Vassell headed downwards and into the roof of the net for his third goal in many games.
The in-form striker almost had a second, denied by a brave block as Luton began to enjoy a monopoly on both possession and territory for the final knockings.
Cook saw numerous efforts charged down, flashing a half volley and forcing McKeown into a parry, with his second attempt repelled by a flying defender.
Jack Marriott was introduced for the final moments and looked to have won it for Town after his charge on the right brought about the late, late spotkick
However, McKeown came to the rescue as Luton saw the gap to the automatic promotion places lengthen to six points once more, as Carlisle enjoyed a 2-1 win at struggling Leyton Orient.
Mariners: James McKeown, Ben Davies, Danny Andrew, Shaun Pearson, Danny Collins, Brandon Comley, Adi Yussuf (Scott Vernon 84), Gavin Gunning, Calum Dyson (Akwasi Asante 84), Chris Clements (Sam Jones 84), Jamey Osborne.
Subs not used: Craig Disley, Dominic Vose, Zak Mills, Andrew Boyce.
Hatters: Stuart Moore, James Justin, Scott Cuthbert, Glen Rea, Jack Senior, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jake Gray (Alan Sheehan 57), Luke Gambin (Ollie Palmer 57), Jordan Cook, Isaac Vassell, Danny Hylton.
Subs not used: Matt Macey, Stephen O'Donnell, Lawson D'Ath, Jack Marriott, Olly Lee.
Attendance: 5,114 (468 Luton).
Booked: Vassell 36, Hylton 62, Collins 64, Senior 75, Pearson 90.
Referee: Mark Haywood.