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30 March 2013

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The Town twice came from behind to earn a point in an entertaining draw at Cambridge.

Tom Shaw's had United ahead for the time with an angled drive from the edge of the area on 20 minutes before his namesake Jon headed home for the Hatters eight minutes after half-time.

Just when it looked as the Town would build on their leveller Cambridge gained the advantage eight minutes later when substitute Nathan Blissett headed home.

But not to be outdone the Hatters earned a point when Soloman Taiwo netted his first goal in Luton colours four minutes later from the penalty spot after Andre Gray was fouled in the box by home goalkeeper Nicholas Pope, who had earlier made two outstanding saves from Dave Martin in the first half.

It was the hosts that began on the front foot with Mark Tyler alert to keep out Josh Coulson's fourth-minute header.

The hosts, under the management of former Hatters boss Richard Money, were well on top inside the opening exchanges and Tyler needed to make another easy catch when grasping hold of left-wing corner after a surging run from Harrison Dunk on 13 minutes.

Tyler made a routine catch from an ambitious, dipping half-volley from Shaw on the edge of the area a minute later as the hosts continued to press.

Good defending from Jake Goodman denied Sam Smith a route to goal on 18 minutes before the Town came close for the first time almost immediately when Dave Martin did well to burst down the left and hang up an inviting cross that eluded both Gray and, at the back-post, Shaw.

However the hosts' pressure paid off on 20 minutes when they took the lead. A right-wing cross from Liam Hughes was headed clear by Simon Ainge but the ball fell kindly to Shaw on the edge of the box who sent a low effort past the legs of several Town defenders that unsighted Tyler and nestled in the bottom corner. It was the first goal the Hatters had conceded away from home under John Still.

Hurt by going behind the Town were almost level on 24 minutes when a 22-yard piledriver was kept out spectacularly by United goalkeeper Pope.

By now the Hatters were enjoying their best spell of the half and Pope came to the hosts' rescue four minutes later with an even better save. Gray was unable to connect with the ball in the penalty area but it broke perfectly for Martin whose shot seemed destined for the top corner until the Cambridge goalkeeper stuck out one arm to turn the ball around the post.

The Town ended the first half the stronger but failed to test Pope again as the hosts went in at the break a goal to the good.

The Hatters started the second half well, Howells drove a shot just wide of the target five minutes after the restart, but on 53 minutes they were level. A fine dinked pass over the top of the home defence by Gray allowed Martin to bear down on goal. Unable to get a shot out and then forced wide, Martin was able to send in a perfect right-wing cross for Shaw to nod past the statuesque Pope.

Cambridge had failed to call Tyler into any worthwhile action since their goal but the Town stopper could only stand and watch as the hosts re-took the lead on 62 minutes. A right-wing free-kick was met by substitute Blissett, who nodded home with his first touch.

That goal had come against the run of the play but the Town were only behind for three minutes when referee Breakspear awarded a penalty to Still's side when Gray was bundled over by Pope inside the box and Taiwo stepped up to calmly send the home stopper the wrong way to make it two apiece.

In response to levelling things up Still introduced Alex Wall for Martin on 66 minutes in a change that saw the Town revert to 4-3-3.

Having been pegged back Cambridge came close to going back in front, a brave block from Steve McNulty prevented a rocket of a shot from centre-back Charlie Wassmer troubling Tyler on 68 minutes.

It was entertaining stuff and the Hatters almost had the lead for the first time on 70 minutes when Simon Ainge sent a scorching low shot goalwards from 18 yards that Pope did well to get his hands to. From the resultant corner, Goodman saw a poked effort hacked away as the Town pressed.

Both sides pushed for a winner in the closing stages with half-chances but in the end they had to settle for a share of the spoils.

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