Shea stars as Hatters escape from Dale with a point

Andrew Shinnie in action against Rochdale
Andrew Shinnie in action against Rochdale

League One: Rochdale 0 Luton Town 0

Luton escaped from Spotland with a valuable point to their name after just about holding Rochdale to a goalless draw this afternoon.

That they finished with a clean sheet was largely due to a superb first half display from keeper James Shea, who made a string of fine saves to keep the honours even.

After the break, Hatters definitely rode their luck at times, with home substitute Zach Clough denied by the crossbar, the visitors also playing the final 16 minutes with 10 men, Danny Hylton shown a straight red.

Town boss Nathan Jones named an unchanged side for the League One clash as the visitors looked to have made an excellent start, Jack Stacey breaking into the area, his low cross stabbed wide by Hylton.

An open game saw Andrew Shinnie booked for a challenge by the corner flag, the free kick wasted by Dale, Callum Camps teed up on the edge of the area to drag wide, with Matthew Done also off target after Luton were undone on their right.

The hosts had another good chance on 13 minutes when top scorer Ian Henderson was played through, but Shea formed a human barrier at his near post to prevent the striker scoring.

The keeper then made an excellent stop on 18 minutes when Town were sliced open after a corner of their own, Bradden Inman finding himself one-on-one, but Shea used his legs to repel the effort away, Jordan Williams' follow up header off target.

Luton were then indebted to their stopper for an absolutely stunning double save on 23 minutes as he not once, but twice, displayed tremendous reactions to keep the hosts out when an opener appeared a nailed on certainty.

Shea almost then gifted the hosts an opener as a dicey one-two with Bradley saw the keeper take a heavy touch, haring off his line to make a last-ditch sliding challenge on Inman.

Luton weren't without their opportunities though, Lee escaping on the left in the 35th minute, his low ball in diverted wide by Hylton, with Bradley then off target from a deep corner.

Just before half time, Shea was there once more, diving to his left to parry Inman's drive, Done's rebound blocked by the covering Bradley.

After the break, Bradley had to clear Henderson's mazy run behind, while Stephen Dooley's effort from range didn't come down in time.

Town threatened briefly, Glen Rea's shot charged down and Lee's effort not curling back into the far post.

With just 10 minutes gone, Jones responded to Dale's continued dominance by making a double change, Kazenga LuaLua and Harry Cornick on for the ineffective Lee and Shinnie.

LuaLua quickly demonstrated his intent, scudding in a low effort from 25 yards that was easy for Moore.

Dale brought on ex-Hatter Calvin Andrew who immediately began throwing his weight around upfront, but displayed just why his goalscoring record is so sparse, missing a great chance when left unmarked.

As the game became even more open, Town had a brilliant opportunity after Mpanzu looked up and fed Collins, who from 20 yards went for the bottom corner, not missing by much.

Hatters were then reduced to 10 men, Hylton sliding in with a studs high challenge on Henderson, referee Ollie Yates immediately reaching for his top pocket.

That led to some angry scenes among the Hatters followers and also Collins, who took umbrage to being flattened by Henderson, getting involved in a heated exchange with the striker and was swiftly replaced by Alan Sheehan.

The hosts were centimetres away from breaking the deadlock on 84 minutes as sub Zach Clough arrowed an effort towards the top corner from 20 yards, the underside of the crossbar coming to Luton's rescue.

Late on, the hosts grew even more desperate, Andrew causing a real nuisance of himself to the home defence, Bradley doing superbly to prevent him getting a clean connection, while his header in the final minute of stoppage time was grabbed by Shea.

Dale: Brendan Moore, Joe Rafferty, Ryan Delaney, Harrison McGahey, Stephen Dooley, Callum Camps, Jordan Williams (Calvin Andrew 59), Matty Done, Bradden Inman (Zac Clough 69), Sam Hart, Ian Henderson.

Subs not used: Josh Lillis, MJ Williams, David Perkins, Daniel Adshead, Florian Yonsian.

Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, James Justin, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley, Glen Rea (C), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Andrew Shinnie (Kazenga LuaLua 55), Elliot Lee (Harry Cornick 55), James Collins (Alan Sheehan 77), Danny Hylton.

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Alan McCormack, Aaron Jarvis, Lloyd Jones.

Booked: Shinnie 8.

Sent off: Hylton 74.

Referee: Ollie Yates.

Attendance: 3,689 (858 Luton).