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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
13:28 20th June 2014

Accrington Stanley 2-2 Luton Town

Goals from Luke Rooney and Jake Howells helped the Hatters recover from two goals down to earn a point at Accrington Stanley.

The Town trailed 2-0 inside 16 minutes after goals from James Gray and Luke Joyce.

But, following the introduction of Luke Guttridge, the Hatters looked a different side. Rooney halved the deficit before a deflected Howells free-kick levelled matters before the break.

Both sides came close to winning it with chances in the second half but in the end the Town had to settle for a point which at one stage looked unlikely.

It all started with the Town showing three changes to the midweek draw with Bury – Paul Connolly returned at right-back, Howells replaced the injured Scott Griffiths at left-back, whilst Alex Lacey moved into central midfield.

But the Hatters made a sloppy start on only their second visit to the Crown Ground. Accrington – who came into the game having lost all four of their league and cup fixtures – took the lead in the eighth minute when Piero Mingoia strode unchallenged down the left and his cut-back into the penalty area was touched home by Gray from close range.

The Town continued to struggle in the final third and their task of earning a result looked even more difficult in the 16th minute when Accrington doubled their lead in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Joyce sent a header from a left-wing corner at goal which deflected onto the post. The ball, though, clipped the head of Mark Tyler and into the net.

With the Town in trouble, John Still brought on Guttridge for Lacey on 22 minutes and within a minute of coming on the midfielder immediately linked-up well with Paul Benson before he then sent a shot wide of the post on 26 minutes.

Tyler kept out a routine, curling free-kick from the edge of the box from right-back Adam Buxton on 28 minutes but, four minutes later, the Hatters got themselves back in the game.

Clever interplay in and around the Stanley penalty area led to Matt Robinson’s shot blocked, but Andy Drury kept the move alive, slipping Rooney in down the left. The midfielder wove his away into the left-hand side of the area before cutting inside and curling a well-hit effort through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner.

With the impetus well and truly with the Town, Rooney was denied a quickfire second on 35 minutes when keeper Jay Lynch tipped away the midfielder’s drive rifled in from 20 yards.

Tyler needed to be alert on 39 minutes when he tipped over a superb half-volley from George Bowerman, but three minutes later the Town were level. Guttridge was hacked down on the edge of the box and Howells’ free-kick from inside the D took a big deflection on its path beyond Lynch, and the 600 Hatters supporters celebrated the equaliser.

Sensing the opportunity, the Hatters almost completed the turnaround in the sixth added minute at the end of the first half when Mark Cullen headed a left-wing cross from Rooney narrowly over the crossbar.
The start to the second half began just as frantic as the first ended as the Town searched for the lead for the first time.

Cullen was almost found by a cute Guttridge pass on 50 minutes, Benson headed a Drury cross wide at the back post a minute later, Cullen then raced through only to stumble in the penalty area on 54 minutes before Guttridge was denied by a brave block by a home defender with his shot destined for the bottom corner.

Still the Town pressed. JJst after the hour Drury’s low shot from the edge of the box was saves smartly by Lynch before the midfielder was denied again by the home stopper on 65 minutes after linking-up brilliantly with Guttridge.

Lynch, the home keeper – making his first Football League start – continued to keep the Town at bay, this time parrying a Rooney shot from just inside the penalty area on 67 minutes.

Back came Accrington, and the Town had Tyler to thank for a fantastic one-handed stop to keep out a fierce drive from Gray on 75 minutes.

Robinson tested Lynch again after teeing himself up for a shot from distance before Alex Wall replaced Cullen with 11 minutes left as the Town hunted a late winner.

The Hatters thought they had their noses in front for the first time on 81 minutes but Luke Wilkinson’s header was disallowed for a foul in the penalty area.

As time ticked down into the five minutes, Tyler smothered a deflected shot from Jordan Mustoe before the Town saw Wilkinson and Robinson both off target with shots from distance.

It was helter-skelter stuff in the final moments as both sides pushed for a last-gasp winner.

And Tyler had the final say with a super fingertip save in the third minute of stoppage time to deny Gray. From the corner, Howells then came to the Hatters’ rescue with a clearance off the line – and that was that.

Town: Tyler, Connolly, Howells, McNulty, Wilkinson, Lacey (sub Guttridge 22), Rooney, Robinson, Drury, Cullen (sub Wall 79), Benson. Subs not used: Franks, Ruddock Mpanzu, Lafayette, Stevenson, Justham.

Attendance: 1,562, including 586 backing the Hatters.


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