Report: Wycombe 1-1 Luton
Jonathan Smith hit a stunning equaliser as the Hatters fought back to earn a point in a thrilling top-of-the-table clash at Adams Park.
The Town fell behind after just two minutes through Paris Cowan-Hall’s header but Smith volleyed home from the edge of the six minutes later.
Both sides came close to adding to the score, with the Hatters going close in the second half with Andy Drury having the Town’s best chance.
Wycombe could have snatched it when Paul Hayes dragged a shot wide but the Town kept-up their unbeaten record at Adams Park and could have won in in the closing stages.
The Town, unchanged following the 3-0 win over Newport, got off to the worst possible start by conceding after just two minutes. Scott Griffiths was booked for a foul in the lead-up to a right-wing corner from which Cowan-Hall rose to plant a header into the top corner.
However the Hatters were not behind for long as, six minutes later, it was 1-1 when Smith belted home his first goal of the season and his first season breaking his leg exactly 12 months ago. The midfielder took Michael Harriman’s pass from the right on the edge of the penalty area on his chest and volleyed an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net.
Two minutes later, on 10, the Town thought home defender Alfie Mawson – who was on-loan at Kenilworth Road last season – should have been red carded for clipping and bringing down Mark Cullen 40 yards from goal with the striker preparing to race clear. Instead referee Andy Woolmer showed a yellow card.
As the action continued to come, Drury curled over a dipping free-kick just over the crossbar on 12 minutes before Luke Rooney became the third player booked inside the quarter-hour when he took down Joe Jacobson.
After conceding from a corner early on, the Town’s defence were strong at the back as Wycombe won a series of free-kicks and corners, but as the game’s helter-skelter start began to ease, a Jacobson free-kick from the left was nodded over the crossbar by home defender Aaron Pierre.
As half-time neared, and the rain continued to poor, the Hatters almost fashioned a great opportunity to take the lead on 43 minutes. The Town midfielder did well to hassle Wycombe out of possession, allowed Drury to stride clear. However as he neared the edge of the home penalty area the midfielder slipped on the sodden turf at the crucial moment and the chance was gone.
Wycombe ended the half marginally on top, Griffiths beaten down the left allowing Cowan-Hall to race down the flank but his delivery, thankfully, was poor and behind his striker team-mates baying for the cut-back.
The Hatters started brightly after the break, winning a series of corners and from one, on 51 minutes, Luke Wilkinson nodded a header wide following Nathan Doyle’s cross after a Drury corner had been half-cleared.
Drury though came even closer to giving the Town the lead on 55 minutes. Cullen’s superb flick send Griffiths away down the left and left-back showed great desire to slide to a cross into the box where Drury, racing into the six-yard box, met – only for his shot to be saved brilliantly by Matt Ingham in the Chairboys’ goal.
The Town were coming closer and closer and Wycombe were lucky not to concede a comical own goal on the hour when centre-half Aaron Pierre headed past his own goalkeeper after the two both went to clear their lines with Cullen sniffing for a chance.
As the Hatters continued to press Cullen then came close himself on 65 minutes. Wilkinson retrieved a Drury corner to show a fancy drag-back and then cross from the right to Cullen at the back-post, but, off-balance, he headed wide.
While the Town were searching in vain of a goal the home side spurned a glorious change to take the lead when Hayes shot wide having found time and space at the end of a passing move on 73 minutes.
As the rain continued to pour, both sides traded possession a thrilling end-to-end period in which the Hatters and the Blues went in search of a winner.
In the first of four added minute Mark Tyler made a fine save from Mawson before the Town then broke at pace on the break but substitute Ricky Miller was barged off the ball – and that was that as a pulsating top-of-the-table clash ended all square.
TOWN: Tyler; Harriman, Griffiths, McNulty, Wilkinson; Doyle, Smith, Drury; Whalley (Sub Miller 77), Rooney (sub Howells 60), Cullen (sub Lafayette 69). Subs not used: Justham, Stevenson, Connolly.
ATTENDANCE: 7,539, including 2,566 backing the Hatters.