Hatters held to frustrating draw against Minstermen
Cameron McGeehan’s second-half penalty was not enough to prevent the Town’s winning league run from coming to an end following a 1-1 draw with York at Kenilworth Road.
The midfielder tucked home his sixth goal of the season following a foul on Dan Potts, but it proved a frustrating afternoon for the Hatters.
York had taken the lead when Keith Lowe slotted home from a knock-down in the first-half, as the visitors continued their strong recent form against the Hatters.
And while both teams pushed for a win, clear-cut chances were few and far between late on, with Luton’s winless run against the Minstermen stretching to nine games.
John Still made one change from their last league outing at Hartlepool, Scott Griffiths dropping out of the squad to allow Potts to take his place at left-back.
It was a quiet start at Kenilworth Road, but the Hatters were slightly on top with Potts and McGeehan linking up well down the left flank before Craig Mackail-Smith was denied by an excellent sliding tackle from Lowe in the 10th minute.
Mackail-Smith was a constant threat to the York defence early on, and should have opened the scoring moments later, but his snatched effort from an excellent Olly Lee through ball sailed harmlessly wide of the post.
Town kept the visitors out of the first quarter, with McGeehan looking to add to his already-impressive goal-scoring tally, but the midfielder was thwarted by the offside flag after Mackail-Smith’s flick-down came from the wrong side of the York defence.
The McGeehan-Mackail-Smith combination continued to deliver, the latter this time flicking an aerial ball to Luke Guttridge, but York goalkeeper Scott Flinders was on hand for a second time in as many minutes to deny the midfielder’s close-range effort.
It took 20 minutes for York to get their first shot on Mark Tyler’s goal, courtesy of Penn, who had been guilty of conceding possession on numerous occasions, but the midfielder screwed his effort wildly into the Kenilworth Road End.
The lack of a clinical final ball proved a frustration for the Hatters all through the game, and McGeehan and Josh McQuoid switched wings in an attempt to inject some life to the last third, but to no avail.
But just moments later York were ahead. Penn’s free-kick from the edge of the centre-circle found John McCombe, who nodded down for his defensive partner Lowe to lash home past a helpless Tyler after the Town defence proved too slow to react to the danger.
The goal, seven minutes before the end of the first half, inevitably allowed York to sit on their lead, but they came close to adding a second. Steve McNulty’s slip – the only blemish in an excellent half for the skipper – allowed Vadaine Oliver in, but the visitors’ striker was challenged amidst claims of a penalty before he had chance to shoot.
Further poor passing continued to aggravate the home faithful, lacking any clear-cut chances to level the game before the interval in a half they dominated.
Jack Marriott replaced Mackail-Smith at half-time, and the Hatters began the second half on the front foot, with McQuoid narrowly hitting over from a half-cleared Guttridge set-piece, but York continued to look for a second with a series of corners that the home defence were able to deal with.
The introduction of Alex Lawless for Jonathan Smith prompted a change to the Town’s system, as Still opted to use Lawless and Potts as wing-backs, a decision which reaped rewards just minutes later as Luton equalised.
Potts, who had looked invigorated down the left since the break, was fouled by Penn in the area to allow McGeehan to lash home his sixth in the campaign.
The left-back had found himself taking on Marriott’s super run after the striker had been picked out excellently from another Lee long ball, bursting clear of the York defence on an all too infrequent occasion.
McGeehan took on the spot-kick responsibility and fired the Hatters back to parity.
Luton rifled up the ascendancy after equalising, McQuoid racing through to win a free-kick following Femi Ilesanmi’s foul, but Lee’s effort flicked off the wall and out for a corner.
But still the Town pushed, and from the resultant corner just after the hour mark, Luke Wilkinson was denied by a wonderful right-hand paw from Flinders to turn over, but the subsequent set-piece was dealt with by a now rattled York defence.
Back came Luton with yet another beauty of an outswinging corner from Guttridge, this time earned by Lawless’ enterprise down the right, finding Wilkinson, but the centre half could only nod wide when well positioned.
The Hatters threw on Nathan Doyle for the last 10 minutes in search of a winner, but York still posed a threat with Penn slicing wide from the edge of Tyler’s penalty area as free-kicks for the away side increased the anguish for the Kenilworth Road support.
Chances dried up for both teams, although York were willing to push for more than a point, attempting to utilise the height of centre-half McCombe with a selection of long throws in the closing stages, while Penn tried his luck from range on more than one occasion.
The hosts were limited to half-chances also, despite thriving in front of goal in recent matches. Scott Cuthbert was the latest to try from distance, but the urges of the fans proved to be misguided as he shot high and wide in search of a late winner.
A last chance from a Lee free-kick, gave Luton an opening, but a foul on Flinders from the ball in – which caused some handbags with Wilkinson and the keeper – rounded off a disappointing afternoon for a Town side used to winning in the past few weeks.
The point marks the Hatters’ first slip up since the defeat at Notts County, almost a month ago, but the Town remain in 10th position in League 2, three points shy of the Play-Off places heading into next week’s trip to Crawley.
Town: Tyler; Cuthbert, Potts, McNulty, Wilkinson; Smith (sub Lawless 57), Lee, Guttridge (sub Doyle 81); McGeehan, McQuoid, Mackail-Smith (sub Marriott 46). Subs not used: Hall, Green, Ruddock, Justham.
Attendance: 8,612, with 222 following York.