Centre-back Matty Pearson scored on his competitive home debut to rescue a point against Sunderland and get the Hatters up and running in this League One season in front of a sell-out crowd at Kenilworth Road.
It wasn’t quite the swashbuckling stuff seen at Fratton Park last weekend, despite Town’s defeat to Portsmouth, as Josh Maja had put a strong Black Cats side in front on the stroke of half time.
But Town came out fighting in the second half and got their rewards in the 68th minute from a well-worked corner routine.
Though both sides had chances to win it, battling Town deserved their point.
Danny Hylton and Jack Stacey returned to the starting 11, in place of Harry Cornick and James Justin, and the right back was much the busier early on.
Glenn Loovens headed straight at Marek Stech, while Alan McCormack had Town’s only first half effort on goal, a very wayward volley.
Black Cats skipper George Honeyman was furious when referee Charles Breakspear waved away appeals for a penalty, instead only awarding a corner that Loovens headed wide.
Just before the half-hour mark, Lynden Gooch blasted inches wide of Stech’s post to signal a spell of Sunderland pressure that finally told on the stroke of half time when the impressive number 11 threaded through to Maja who had an eternity to pick his spot in the bottom corner.
The Hatters tested their rivals more after the break, with Dan Potts seeing a shot blocked and Pearson heading over from a corner.
Stech was relieved to see the ball go over the bar after he fumbled Gooch’s curler, before Town then finally broke their duck in League One.
James Collins and Alan Sheehan worked the corner routine that got them a penalty at Accrington and a goal at Forest Green last season. The skipper dinked to the back post where Pearson first headed down and he poked into the corner.
The visitors nearly took the lead again when Chris Maguire turned and shot from 12 yards, rattling Stech’s crossbar, but Hylton will wonder how he didn’t get off the mark for the season. Last term’s top scorer had his head in his hands after nodding Stacey’s well wide with the goal at his mercy.
As the game opened up, Sunderland sub Lee Cattermole got a far better connection with his head but glanced just wide.
Potts climbed highest for a corner in time added on but couldn’t direct it down so Town had to settle for a much-deserved point.
TOWN: Stech, Potts, McCormack, Pearson, Stacey, Hylton, Lee (Jervis, 90), Mpanzu, Grant (Cornick, 56), Collins (Rea, 86), Sheehan
Unused subs: Justin, Bradley, Shinnie, Shea
Goals: Pearson, 68
Yellows: McCormack, Grant
SUNDERLAND: McLaughlin, Matthews, Oviedo, Loovens, Maguire, Honeyman, Gooch (Molyneux 90+2), Baldwin, Maja (O’Nien, 86), Power, Mumba (Cattermole, 54)
Unused subs: Ozturk, O’Nien, Ruiter, Embleton, Hume
Goals: Maja, 45,
Yellows: Matthews, Baldwin, Loovens
Attendance: 10,059 (1,047)
Referee: Charles Breakspear