Report: Bury 1-1 Luton Town
An injury-time equaliser denied the Hatters a victory and a guaranteed place in the third round of the FA Cup.
Leading thanks to Mark Cullen’s scrambled goal five minutes after half-time, the hosts earned a replay when substitute Daniel Nardiello fired home in the 90th-minute.
The Town began showing two changes to the side that beat Mansfield last week with Luke Wilkinson returning from suspension and Charlie Walker given his first start in Luton colours. Injured duo Shaun Whalley and Paul Benson were the players who made way.
Bury, who came into the game having lost their previous four matches, started brightly inside the first five minutes but Walker’s maiden start in professional football proved to be an incident-packed one in the first 15 minutes. The striker received treatment for a facial injury before he went mighty close to breaking the deadlock on 11 minutes when he raced through on goal to reach Jonathan Smith’s pass. However after beating home goalkeeper Rob Lainton to the ball, Walker’s lob bounced just wide.
Back came Bury, but the home side were finding it tough to penetrate the Hatters back-three with Tom Soares and Hallam Hope all off-target in their attempts on goal from the edge of the box.
But the Town were playing the better football and on 34 minutes the Hatters created a fine chance after patient move that ended with Mark Cullen inches away from reaching Walker’s teasing low cross from the right-hand side of the penalty area.
Mark Tyler was called into action for the first time on 36 minutes when he gathered another Hope effort, grabbing the ball at the second attempt with Danny Rose sniffing for the loose ball.
The half ended with Bury forcing a series of corners that came to nothing before the Town almost fashioned a chance with the final act of the opening 45 minutes only for the counter-attack to end with Andy Drury’s cross to end up in hands of Lainton.
Bury began the second half with gusto, winning an early corner before Danny Mayor cut inside from the left and fired a shot over Tyler’s crossbar.
But on 50 minutes it was the Town that took the lead with a goal that the Bury defence will not want to see again. Scott Griffiths forced his way up the byeline and there seemed no danger when the left-wing-back’s cross rolled towards goal. However home goalkeeper Lainton and a defensive colleague left the ball for each other on the goal-line and Cullen nipped in to bundle the ball over the line. It was Cullen’s ninth goal of the season.
The hosts tried in vain to level almost immediately but Nicky Adams’ free-kick hit the Town wall before Hope fired way over the crossbar after latching onto a super throughball from Mayor.
John Still made his first change, introducing Ricky Miller for Walker on the hour and the Town substitute almost set-up another goal for Cullen, only for the goalscorer’s shot to be held by Lainton at the goakeeper’s near post.
As Bury continued to search for an equaliser but when the Shakers did get in behind the Town defence, Tyler was there, and the Hatters’ number one was on hand to keep out a first-time shot from Rose following a left-wing cross from Chris Hussey.
The hosts were piling on the pressure and Michael Harriman came close to finding the net with an own goal with 11 minutes left. The QPR loanee relieved to see the ball drop the other side of the post.
With six minutes to go the Hatters won their first corner of the game a minute later the Town came close to sealing victory when Miller’s shot came back off the post and into Lainton’s arms after good work from Jonathan Smith.
Bury’s corner count with four minutes left read 16-1 and from the 16th flag-kick Tyler needed to be alert to palm over Chris Hussey’s right-wing corner.
However, the pressure continued and Bury from their 17th and final corner of the game, with goalkeeper Lainton in the mix, the Shakers levelled. The Town couldn’t clear their lines and Nardiello thundered home to send the home fans wild.
Bury went in search of a late winner but after four added minutes both sides had to settle for a replay at Kenilworth Road in 10 days’ time.
TOWN: Tyler; McNulty, Franks, Wilkinson; Harriman, Griffiths (sub Howells 76); Smith, Doyle, Drury; Walker (sub Miller 59), Cullen.
Subs: Robinson, Stevenson, Rooney, Lacey, Justham.
Attendance: 2,790 which includes 434 backing the Hatters.