The Hatters showed tremendous character to fight back from two goals down at half-time and bring a valuable point back from Coventry tonight, with captain Scott Cuthbert and James Collins marking their returns to the side with crucial second-half headed goals.
First-half strikes by Peter Vincenti and Marc McNulty had given the Sky Blues the advantage, but Cuthbert – back in the starting XI for the first time in almost four months following groin surgery – halved the deficit ten minutes into the second half.
Then, after having a header chalked off for offside in the 79th minute, Collins – who missed Saturday’s defeat to Accrington through suspension – moved to the top of the Town scoring charts with a bullet header three minutes from time to haul the Hatters level during a barnstorming finish.
Manager Nathan Jones’ third change to the starting line-up from Saturday’s reversal was Harry Cornick, who came in as part of a front three alongside Collins and Hylton.
The Hatters got off to the worst possible start as they looked to bounce straight back to the top of the table, falling behind in the third minute when Marek Stech could only push Tom Bayliss’ 20-yard shot into the path of Vincenti, who slammed home from close range.
The Town were presented with a great chance to respond in the ninth minute when Cornick looked to be in on goal after City right-back Jack Grimmer sold his keeper Lee Burge short with a back-pass, but the spin and bounce on the ball allowed Dominic Hyam to get back and challenge before the striker could get his shot away.
Jones’ men were enjoying plenty of the ball in the Coventry third without creating any clear-cut opportunities.
Collins had the first shot in the 18th minute, forcing Burge into a save low at his near post, before the returning striker tricked his way past Grimmer and Hyam and into the six-yard box a minute later, only for the former to get back and nick the ball before he could pull the trigger.
Glen Rea, back in the midfield holding role, was next to have a go, trying his luck from fully 30 yards but his 24th-minute piledriver whistled the wrong side of the post.
Marc McNulty and Jordan Shipley soon tested Stech at the other end, before the former hit a snap-shot that Rod McDonald attempted to turn in inside the six-yard box, but thankfully for the Hatters it went well wide.
Shipley’s attempted 36th-minute curler after some fine one-touch passing in the middle of midfield was off target, then McNulty hit a 20-yarder that flew high over Stech’s bar as the hosts enjoyed the better of the second part of the first half.
Their second goal came right on the stroke of half-time after Cuthbert was penalised for a foul just outside the area, and McNulty stepped up to curl around the wall and into the far corner, with the aid of a slight deflection.
Jones resisted the temptation to make any changes at the break, and his side came out of the blocks quickly, Cornick getting his head on a left-wing cross from Berry,
Coventry were soon back on top, however, and Jonson Clarke-Harris attempted a left-footed curler in the 51st minute that was just too high.
The Town were back in business ten minutes into the second half when Sheehan whipped in a left-wing free-kick that Cuthbert met with a powerful far-post header to halve the deficit.
Jones made a double substitution in the 66th minute, bringing Luke Gambin into midfield in place of Rea – who had just been shown a yellow card for a foul – and Elliot Lee on up front as a replacement for Cornick.
The Town were having the better of the half territorially, but still without troubling Burge in the home goal and it was Coventry who were next to register a shot on target, McNulty once again forcing Stech into a save with his legs after cutting in from the right.
Boyhood Coventry fan Collins thought he had dragged the Town level in the 79th minute when he got on the end of a Sheehan free-kick aimed for the far post, but the linesman’s flag was already raised for offside before the ball nestled in the corner of the net.
Berry then picked out Hylton to chest down for Stacey, racing into the box on 83 minutes, but Burge was equal to the right-back’s stabbed effort as the Town turned the screw.
And they were deservedly level in the 87th minute when Gambin dug out a delicious cross from the left and Collins buried a bullet header inside the near post for his 18th goal of the season.
Coventry might have snatched it three minutes into stoppage time when sub Kyel Reid crossed from the left for Clarke-Harris to head straight at Stech, who then had to repel a fierce shot from outside the box from Reid.
But the Hatters survived to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, and move to within a point of Accrington – and seven points clear of Wycombe in fourth, albeit having now played a game more than both. Next up, Newport!
TOWN: Stech, Stacey, Cuthbert ©, Sheehan, Potts, Rea (Gambin 66), Downes, Berry, Cornick (E Lee 66), Collins, Hylton. Subs: Justin, Mullins, O Lee, Jervis, Shea (GK)
Goals: Cuthbert 55, Collins 87
COVENTRY: Burge, Grimmer, McDonald, Vincenti (Ponticelli 90), Doyle ©, McNulty, Hyam, Clarke-Harris, Haynes, Shipley (Reid 64), Bayliss (Kelly 76). Subs: O’Brien (GK), Stokes, Biamou, Barrett
Goals: Vincenti 3, McNulty 45
REFEREE: Charles Breakspear
ATT: 8,863 (2,002 Hatters)