Hatters back up to fifth after goalless draw in Cumbria
CARLISLE UNITED 0
LUTON TOWN 0
Att: 4,052 (377 away)
The Hatters moved back up to fifth in the Sky Bet League Two table tonight with a point at promotion rivals Carlisle United, who remain a place above Nathan Jones’ side having played a game more.
Jones made two changes from the 2-0 defeat to Stevenage on Saturday, with skipper Scott Cuthbert missing out after hobbling off with a hamstring problem in the second half at Kenilworth Road.
Olly Lee came into to midfield with Glen Rea dropping into the heart of defence, while Luke Gambin came into the side at the tip of the diamond, with Jonathan Smith dropping to the bench.
The Hatters started brightly and Alan Sheehan, captaining the side on his 50th Luton appearance, whipped a free-kick just over the bar after Isaac Vassell had been brought down just outside the area following a good break down the right by strike partner Danny Hylton.
Hylton was soon into referee Lee Mason’s notepad for a foul on Carlisle captain Danny Grainger, but by the 11th-minute he was causing more problems for the home defence with the ball, receiving it from the marauding Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and sending in a low cross-shot that just beat Vassell sliding in at the far post.
The hosts had the game’s first corner on 18 minutes, but Matt Macey – who had already claimed a John O’Sullivan cross from the left comfortably – punched Nicky Adams’ delivery clear, before getting
his body behind the same player's shot from the edge of the box.
Lee became the second Town player booked for a foul on O’Sullivan, before Jordan Cook went past two players on the Town right and cut the ball back for Hylton in the six-yard box, but the striker couldn’t get his shot off.
Macey and Sheehan combined to keep out Jamie Proctor just before the half-hour when the Carlisle striker got on the end of a long throw to the far post, but the Hatters were looking dangerous with Gambin getting on the ball putting crosses in from both wings, the second finding Cook arriving at the far post but he couldn’t generate enough power in his header to trouble home keeper Mark Gillespie.
Carlisle winger John O’Sullivan reminded the Town defence of his threat with a couple of shots, one that flew wildly over the bar and a second that lopped up off the sliding Sheehan and onto the roof of the Hatters net.
But as the half drew to a close, the Hatters were on the front foot with Hylton having a shot blocked after more good work by Gambin.
Carlisle started the second half the brighter, with Grainger finding the side-netting after a short corner on the left, but the Town were looking dangerous too, Gambin firing just over in the 53rd-minute after a quick break involving Hylton and Mpanzu.
Jones’ side were having a good spell and Hylton got on the end of a deep right-wing cross by Cook, but couldn’t direct his volley on target, then Sheehan whipped in a right-wing free-kick that Vassell got a glancing header on, but Carlisle cleared off the line.
With Jack Marriott waiting patiently to come on just after the hour, the Hatters continued to raid with Cook and Stephen O’Donnell both whipping in good crosses before Hylton had the best effort of the night with a shot on the turn that Gillespie tipped onto the bar.
When Marriott finally got on, the striker arrowed a 25-yard shot goalwards, but it flew just wide of Gillespie's far post – then came an eight-minute hold-up as Dan Potts was treated for a head injury after helping clear a corner from the right.
The left-back received warm applause from the home crowd as he was carried off on a stretcher, replaced by James Justin, but the hosts looked dangerous on 83 minutes as their own sub James Hooper looked clear in the middle, only for Stephen O’Donnell to get back and halt his run with a perfectly timed tackle.
With 87 minutes on the clock Hooper sent a 20-yard shot straight at Macey, before a long throw from O’Donnell on the right found its way to Marriott at the far post, but his effort on the turn was deflected wide.
In ten minutes of time added on, the game went from end-to-end with Carlisle sub George Waring heading a long throw from Grainger wide, before Sheehan sent a free-kick over the bar and Marriott fired another shot wide as Jones men had to settle for a point.
TOWN: Macey, O'Donnell, Rea, Sheehan (c), Potts (Justin 78), Lee, Cook, Mpanzu, Gambin (Palmer 86), Hylton, Vassell (Marriott 65). Subs: Smith, D'Ath, Famewo, Moore (GK)
Yellows: Hylton, Lee
CARLISLE: Gillespie, Grainger (c), Joyce, Proctor, Adams, Brisley, O'Sullivan (Waring 85), Lambe, S Miller (Hooper 82), T Miller, Liddle. Subs: Crocombe, Ward, Salkeld, Holt, McQueen
Yellows: Joyce, Brisley
REFEREE: Lee Mason