Accrington Stanley 1 - 1 Luton
The Hatters grabbed a late equaliser at The Wham Stadium this evening after the ball was deflected into the net by Jonathan Smith following a Craig Mackail Smith attempt on goal.
Earlier in the game, the defender had conceded the penalty which gave Stanley the advantage from the spot.
John Still disappointed to have conceded the penalty.
Luton Town opened their 15/16 campaign with the long trip up the M6 to Accrington Stanley’s Wham Stadium this afternoon. Lining up in their new away strip; a white shirt with orange sleeves, Still named a strong starting XI featuring five of his new signings from the summer.
The team lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Justham in goal, Cuthbert, McNulty, Griffiths and Wilkinson at the back, a midfield of Green, Smith, Doyle and McCourt with McQuoid and Mackail Smith up front.
The first half was a largely cagey affair with few clear-cut chances for either side.
Within the first few minutes Accrington Stanley were awarded their first free kick, which was dealt with easily enough by Jonathan Smith on his 101st appearance in a Luton shirt.
On 5 minutes Mingoia made a rush into the Luton box to put pressure on Justham – but the keeper gathered and cleared long upfield to Mackail Smith, who was ruled to be offside just as he tried a cheeky chip at the other end.
The first corner of the match came on 11 minutes when Mingoia sneaked in round the back of Griffiths, who then tracked back and made the tackle putting the ball out of play. The resulting set-piece was fired into the area, and headed wide by Davis for the home team.
Shortly afterwards, Craig Mackail Smith sent a long-range effort over the bar from 30 yards.
Other noteable moments of the half for Luton came from a low, hard strike from Jonathan Smith on 30 minutes, smothered by 6’ 9” keeper Mooney in the Accrington goal, and Paddy McCourt making a run through the Accrington midfield to set up Green out wide. His cross to Mackail Smith was eventually deflected out for Luton’s 1st Corner of the match in the 40th minute. Danny Green who had a lively first half delivers but the Accrington defence deal with it efficiently.
No injuries, substitutions or bookings during the first half then, and not a great deal of goalmouth action for either side.
The second half started more brightly from an action point of view. Stanley looked the livelier of the two teams out of the blocks.
Accrington defender Matt Crooks was booked for an incursion on 51 minutes, and from the free kick Danny Green took a dangerous looking run into the Accrington area on 53 minutes. Craig Mackail Smith received the ball, but his shot came to nothing.
It wasn’t until the 60th minute that the deadlock was broken as Jonathan Smith makes a silly challenge in the box. Windass, momentarily lost his marker in the corner of the penalty by the by line and Jonathan Smith rashly dived in with a reckless challenge. The penalty decision was given with little complaint from the Luton side.
Windass took the spot kick for Accrington, and despite Elliot Justham diving the right way, the ball found its way into the corner of the Luton Goal. 1 – 0 Stanley.
The break in play gave John Still an opportunity to make his first change of the game with Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu coming on for Paddy McCourt. Then a few minutes later a second Luton change, with Paul Benson replacing Josh McQuoid.
The change looked to be a positive one, when on 66 minutes, Mackail Smith put in a great pass to Pelly Ruddock, who powers in on the pass, but his shot was blocked on the edge of the area
Luton’s third and final change on 77 minutes saw Danny Green replaced by Jack Marriott, and within moments of Marriott joining the action he looked a threat. With the added option of the long ball into Benson, Luton began to look like there might still be a way back into the game after long periods in the second half under threat from Stanley. On 80 minutes, Marriott, on the edge of the box, managed to thread the ball through to Ruddock but his cross was cleared.
Stanley continued to threaten though, with Mingoia, and Barry linking up well on the left and Gornell stalking Justham’s box looking for the second Accrington goal.
Then, finally, as the warm August sun looked to have wilted Luton’s chances of a goal of their own, Mackail-Smith fired an acrobatic effort into the box. The ball took a deflection off the chest of Jonathan Smith and landed in the home net for Luton’s equaliser.
Talking to lutontown.co.uk after the match, John Still said “Were we good? No. Were we bad? No. We were ordinary. It was disappointing to have to come from 1-0 down. We always want to attack, we always want to score and we always want to win. We tried to win, but gave ourselves a bit too much to do from 1-0 down.”
The Hatters take on Bristol City at home in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday evening, then look forward to the first home game of the new season against Oxford United.
Attendance 2359, with 1175 travelling fans.
Luton: Justham, Smith, McNulty, Cuthbert, Green, Griffiths, McCourt, Mackail-Smith, McQuoid, Doyle, Wilkinson
Luton Subs: Tyler, Potts, McGeehan, Benson, Marriott, Ruddock Mpanzu, Guttridge
Accrington Stanley: Mooney, Buxton, Winnard, Davies, Mingoia, Windass, Gornell, McConville, Pearson, Crooks, Conneely
Accrington Subs: Etheridge, Barry, Procter, Bruna, Morgan, Kee, Wright