Match report: Luton Town 1-1 Portsmouth
The Hatters had to settle for a point against Portsmouth in the final home game of Kenilworth Road in 2014.
Luke Rooney’s excellently-controlled volley gave the Town the lead inside the quarter-hour but the visitors levelled 11 minutes before the break when Ryan Taylor’s scruffy goal beat Mark Tyler.
Tyler had to be on his toes to deny Pompey a second goal before half-time, but after the break the Town bossed proceedings but couldn’t find a way through and the biggest crowd of the season went home frustrated.
However the Hatters hordes can still smile, safe in the knowledge that the Hatters end the year just two points off top spot in League 2.
John Still named an unchanged side for third match running and after a brief bright opening from the visitors, it was the Town that took the lead on 13 minutes. Shaun Whalley poked a high pass into the box and Rooney, celebrating his birthday, fired home a fine first-time, left-foot volley into the bottom corner. It was his fifth goal of the season and his third in four matches.
With a sell-out Kenilworth Road baying for more, Mark Cullen came close to getting a shot away following tenacious play down the left from Scott Griffiths on 18 minutes.
But slowly the visitors were passing themselves into the game and Tyler’s first action of the game came on 33 minutes when he did well to grasp hold of a fierce destined-for-the-top-corner shot from Nigel Atanagana.
Two minutes later Tyler was at his agile best to tip over another Portsmouth effort, this time from skipper Johnny Ertl’s volley from 25 yards that was about to creep underneath the crossbar.
The Pompey pressure continued, and on 36 minutes Andy Awford’s side were level. There seemed little danger on when Jed Wallace’s shot travelled goalwards but Luke Wilkinson scuffed an attempted clearance and Taylor was on hand to tap in from close range.
As the break approached, and as the Town offered little going forward, Portsmouth should have gone 2-1 up when Atangana ran into the box from the right and squared for Andy Barcham, but six yards out, the midfielder shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
The Hatters began the second period on the front foot and on 52 minutes Andy Drury fed Cullen to drill a left-foot shot that Pompey keeper Paul Jones gathered at the second attempt – the stopper’s first real save of the match.
Portsmouth were showing little going forward as the Town tried to hunt out a second goal, with Still sending on Ross Lafayette and Ricky Miller.
Shortly after Miller’s 71st-minute introduction for Cullen, Griffiths’ cross behind the Town attackers in the penalty area was met by Michael Harriman, but his low left-foot shot was easy for Jones.
Time continued to tick down as the Hatters continued to push for a late winner, but despite plenty of pressure Jones wasn’t tested and Portsmouth held on to a point as the Town failed to win for the first time in League 2 at Kenilworth Road since early September.
TOWN: Tyler; Harriman, Griffiths (sub Howells 77), McNulty, Wilkinson; Doyle, Smith, Drury; Whalley (sub Lafayette 61), Rooney, Cullen (sub Miller 71). Subs not used: Franks, Justham, Stevenson, Connolly.
Attendance: 10,071, the biggest of the season and including 1,021 from Portsmouth