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13:36 20th June 2014

The Town made it eight games unbeaten in League 2 with a point in an entertaining game with Oxford.

Jayden Stockley put the Hatters in front on 36 minutes but the home side levelled two minutes before the break when Johnny Mullins slotted past Mark Tyler.

The second half was an end-to-end affair with the home side close to going ahead only for the Hatters to hold firm.

After riding the Oxford storm the Town could have snatched a winner in the final moments with substitute Alex Wall going closest with a fierce free-kick in injury-time well saved by home goalkeeper Ryan Clarke – but in the end both sides can be happy with a point.

The Hatters made one change to the side that beat Cambridge last weekend with new signing Ryan Hall given his debut, replacing Scott Griffiths in the side with Jake Howells dropping to left-back.

And the Town, and Hall, started well and the new signing was unlucky not to fire the Hatters ahead in the sixth minute. Shaun Whalley flew down the right to cross to Hall at the back-post but his shot from inside the six-yard box was well saved by Ryan Clarke in the Oxford goal. Stockley then saw his follow-up blocked by a defender for a corner.

The Hatters were having the better of the opening stages but slowly the home side came into the game but chances were few and far between in the opening 25 minutes.

However, the Town were indebted to a fine save from Tyler on the half-hour when Patrick Hoban raced onto an accurate pass which split the Hatters defence, but the home striker was denied by the gloves of Tyler, standing tall in his six-yard box.

But on 36 minutes the deadlock was broken when Stockley opened his account in Luton colours. It came after a lengthy period of patient Town defending. Whalley’s shot from the right was going well wide until Stockley stuck out a leg to divert the ball low and beyond Clarke.

Hurt by going behind it was the hosts that pressed as half-time approached. Pinball in the Hatters’ penalty area on 42 minutes saw Alex MacDonald drag a shot across goal – but a minute later it was one apiece. 

The Town failed to clear their lines as Oxford attacked down the right and the ball fell kindly to defender Johnny Mullins who took one touch before guiding a low shot beyond Tyler. 

Now buoyed by equalising the hosts went in search of a quickfire double before the break but the Town held onto go in level at the interval.

After the break Oxford tried to continue from where they left off at the end of the first half but Danny Hylton and Hoban could not find the target following crosses from the left and then the right respectively.

But the Town were being put under some intense pressure and it was hearts-in-mouths time for Hatters followers when Tyler parried behind a goal-bound shot from MacDonald that took a bobble at the last second on 57 minutes. And two minutes later the hosts thought they were in front when Hoban slid home past Tyler only for the flag of the linesman to chalk the goal off.

Still United pressed and Callum O’Dowda missed a decent chance to make it 2-1 shortly before the hour when toeing a shot straight at Tyler.

Under pressure, John Still made a double substitution on 59 minutes, sending on Nathan Oduwa for his senior debut, and Mark Cullen.

After all the Oxford pressure, it was the Town’s turn to attack and Andy Drury was denied a strike at goal on 62 minutes by an excellent last-ditch tackle by Joe Skarz.

MacDonald then dragged a shot wide for the hosts on 67 minutes before the Town made their final change with 20 minutes left on the clock when goalscorer Stockley was replaced by Wall for his first League appearance since scoring the winner at Stevenage in October.

Oxford introduced James Roberts at the same time and the hosts’ introduction forced Tyler into a smart save after the striker had weaved past several Town defenders to get a shot away.

Oduwa then showed his undoubted promise and talent with the ball at his feet on 71 minutes when bursting through to fashion a chance for the Hatters and having been on the ropes earlier in the half it was the Town who were now looking for a winner and with 10 minutes to go Cullen sent a header inches wide of the post.

As time ticked down it was the Hatters that upped the ante and Wall came close to giving the Town the lead with three minutes left when he hammered a free-kick from 30 yards at goal which Clarke did well to stop. The rebound sat up for Cullen but he couldn’t force the ball over the line.

Four added minutes were shown in which Jonathan Smith shot wide and Stephen McNulty and Jake Howells fired over – and was that – the Hatters had to be content with a point to make it eight games unbeaten in League 2.

TOWN: Tyler; Harriman, Howells, McNulty, Wilkinson; Doyle, Smith, Drury; Hall (sub Odewa 59), Whalley (sub Cullen 59), Stockley (sub Wall 68). Subs not used: Lacey, Justham, Guttridge, Robinson.

ATTENDANCE: 7,541, including a magnificent 2,264 backing the Town.


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.