Berry steals in to earn Town a stoppage time point as Luton hit back from 2-0 down at Blackburn
Championship: Blackburn Rovers 2 Luton Town 2
A sensational stoppage time equaliser from substitute Luke Berry saw Luton fight back from 2-0 down to earn a magnificent and well deserved point against Blackburn Rovers this afternoon.
The visitors looked dead and buried with just over half an hour on the clock, conceding twice to their hosts as it looked like a long afternoon was in prospect.
But to their credit, the Hatters never let their heads dropped, and with a second half performance full of purpose and maybe even a sense of injustice after midfielder Allan Campbell was forced off following a shocking challenge from Darragh Lenihan, which the Rovers player escaped with just a yellow, Berry, only introduced on the hour mark for his first action of the season, scored twice in the final 15 minute to salvage a share of the spoils.
Going into a thoroughly absorbing afternoon, the Hatters made three changes for the match, Amari'i Bell missing out on a return to his former club with injury, as Dan Potts came in for a first start of the season.
He was joined by Cameron Jerome and originally Ade Muskwe, but the latter pulled out before kick-off, meaning Carlos Mendes Gomes came in for his full league debut for the Hatters.
Elijah Adebayo and Fred Onyedinma also missed out, while there was a return on the bench for club captain Sonny Bradley and that man Berry.
Town were hit by some further disruption after just 10 minutes when Campbell was the recipient of an awful lunging challenge from home skipper Lenihan who went over the ball and caught him on the shin.
Although the Rovers defender was able to continue, somehow only shown yellow by official Oliver Langford, a decision that incensed Town's bench and players, Campbell's afternoon was done, replaced by Henri Lansbury.
The substitute gave an early example of his terrific array of passing, spreading the ball wide for James Bree, whose fierce cross was deflected over by Harry Cornick.
Luton looked like they might be further hit when Potts collided heavily with the turf after landing badly following an aerial challenge, but he managed to shake off the nasty looking head injury.
However, the Hatters found themselves behind on 27 minutes when they were sliced open on their left hand side, with Mendes Gomes unable to prevent the low cross, seized upon by Tyrhys Dolan, who took a touch and fired into the roof of the net.
With not much going right for Town, Rovers took full advantage, with an easy second just four minutes later, as they simply strolled through the visitors' back-line, Harry Pickering given time and space to unleash an angled drive into the bottom corner.
Luton tried to regain a foothold as some persistence from Jerome saw a clearance sit up nicely for Gabe Osho whose well-hit 25-yard volley didn't miss by much.
The midfielder then made some space for himself following Mendes Gomes' efforts on the left, opting for placement this time, Thomas Kaminski gathering comfortably.
Town made their second change at the break, with Bradley on for Potts, who was clearly still feeling the effects of his head injury, Kal Naismith moving out to left back.
After the break, the action immediately got going, Dolan going over Lansbury's outstretched leg inside the area, the referee whistling for what appeared to be a penalty, only to book the Blackburn attacker for a blatant dive.
Brereton then took the ball away from Sluga, before throwing himself to the ground when the Croatian looked to retrieve it from him, as both were cautioned for their troubles.
Jerome was next to see yellow for an aerial challenge on Lenihan, before the striker thought he had pulled one back, looping a header into the net after Naismith's effort was originally blocked from Lansbury's corner, only to see the goal ruled out for offside.
An end-to-end game that was threatening to boil over saw Brereton almost add a third, his low attempt cannoning off the post, as Osho became the seventh player to see yellow, Lansbury soon making it eight, with Langford slowly losing control for his earlier failure to dismiss Lenihan.
Jones brought on Berry for his first action of the season with an hour gone and as the bookings continued to tot up, Sam Gallagher soon cautioned, he had an opening on 66 minutes, scuffing wide from a decent position.
The Town chief was left with his heads in hands on 70 minutes as Luton had a glorious chance to make a real game of it, Cornick taking advantage of a misplaced pass to race away and tee Jerome up perfectly.
The experienced forward was left with just Kaminski to beat, something he simply had to do, but frustratingly kept his shot on the ground, allowing the keeper to save with his feet.
Kaminski was soon picking the ball out of the net though on 73 minutes when Town fashioned a great opportunity on the right, Mpanzu reaching the byline and whipping over a dangerous cross that saw Berry slide in to make it 2-1.
It was the midfielder's first goal since November 21, 2020, when he netted at Kenilworth Road against the same opponents and gave Luton genuine hope of getting something tangible from the game.
Sluga ensured that hope remained with eight minutes to go, getting down well to his right to palm Ryan Nyambe's shot away, Burke completing the job at the expense of a corner.
Berry then fed Mpanzu whose blast from 22 yards was wayward, as Luton's hopes of a leveller looked like they were beginning to fade.
The match began to descend into a bit of a face in stoppage time though, with referee Langford having to be replaced after suffering cramp, Andy Haines taking his place.
Sluga kept the visitors in it, saving a one-on-one from Brereton, Osho crucially blocking Gallagher's rebound with a last-ditch challenge, allowing the visitors one last opportunity.
They took it too, Naismith finding Mpanzu who floated a ball into the area for Jerome to cushion back into the path of Berry who arrived on cue to show great composure and beat Kaminski to send the travelling faithful wild and earn a thoroughly deserved point.
Rovers: Thomas Kaminski, Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan, Daniel Ayala, Harry Pickering, Lewis Travis, Joe Rothwell (Tyler Magloire 80), Tyrhys Dolan, John Buckley (Jacob Davenport 74), Ben Brereton Diaz, Sam Gallagher.
Subs not used: Reda Khadra, Aynsley Pears, Daniel Butterworth, Leighton Clarkson, Lenni Rae Cirino,
Hatters: Simon Sluga, Bree, Dan Potts (Sonny Bradley 46), Kal Naismith (C), Reece Burke, Gabe Osho, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Allan Campbell (Henri Lansbury 10), Carlos Mendes Gomes (Luke Berry 58), Harry Cornick, Cameron Jerome.
Subs not used: James Shea, Tom Lockyer, Dion Pereira, Harry Isted.
Bookings: Lenihan 10, Nasmith Dolan 48, Sluga 49, Brereton 49, Jerome 50, Osho 59, Lansbury 61, Gallagher 67.
Referee: Oliver Langford (Andy Haines 90).
Attendance: 11,241 (810 away).