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Match Reports

REPORT & GALLERY | LUTON TOWN 1 COVENTRY CITY 1

Club record unbeaten run extended to 21 matches at Kenilworth Road

24 February 2019

The Hatters restored their five-point advantage at the top of Sky Bet League One after a 1-1 draw against Coventry City in front of the Sky cameras this afternoon.

The stalemate means the Town add this result to their record-breaking unbeaten list for this season, which now stands at 21 matches since a 3-2 defeat at Barnsley in mid-October.

The draw also means the Hatters stay unbeaten at Kenilworth Road in the league this season, a run that has now been extended to 17 matches - and 21 since Accrington were the last side to take all three points in a league game here almost a year ago.

Matty Pearson headed in his sixth of the campaign but his opener was soon cancelled out by Jordan Shipley, when he calmly placed his strike past James Shea. The Hatters dominated play for large parts of the match but struggled to find the winner in the end. 

Manager Mick Harford named an unchanged team to that which won at Fleetwood last week to break the club record unbeaten run in the EFL.

That meant James Shea was in goal behind a back four of Jack Stacey, Pearson, captain Sonny Bradley and James Justin.

Alan McCormack anchored the midfield with Andrew Shinnie, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and George Moncur behind a front two of Danny Hylton and top scorer James Collins.

It was the Hatters who had the first chance of the match, Coventry-born Collins hitting his effort well over the bar after some neat work between Hylton and Stacey down the right.

Moncur then released Shinnie who had a go from 20 yards, although it ended up over the bar too. The Scot’s next attempt went just wide of the post as the Hatters began the match the stronger of the two sides.

A Coventry free-kick from a dangerous position on 12 minutes quickly led to a promising counter attack for the Town when Stacey won it outside his own penalty area. A string of quick passes between the midfielders found its way to Shinnie on the right, whose low cross had City keeper Lee Burge sprawling in his six-yard box to make it his.

The goal the Hatters deserved eventually came a little bit later from their first corner of the match, Justin putting a pinpoint cross into the box to find Pearson’s head. The centre-half was never going to miss, racing away to celebrate his sixth of the season.

A small mix-up between McCormack and Shea nearly handed the visitors their first chance of the afternoon, Amadou Bakayoko going down in the area after Shea failed to clear the danger. A large amount of protest from the Sky Blues wasn’t enough to sway the ref’s decision, awarding a goal-kick to the Hatters.

Coventry played their way into the contest though, disrupting the Hatters’ flow. Bakayoko had looked lively until he was forced off the pitch due to injury. The substitute Shipley proved to be an important change for the visitors though, popping up with the equaliser on 34 minutes.

Jordy Hiwula made a nice turn around Pearson and found Shipley in acres of space, and the sub coolly slotted in from close range. The Hatters then found themselves in the unfamiliar position of holding on until half-time, as Coventry closed in on the league leaders

Luke Thomas found time and space on the edge of the box after a driving run forward but couldn’t keep his curling shot below the crossbar. The Sky Blues ended the half better than the Town, who looked frustrated after not building on a positive start.

The Hatters looked fired up after the break and began the second 45 well, Justin finding Bradley this time from a corner. The defender’s powerful header was just about scraped off the line just five minutes in.

Town then began to play some better stuff, McCormack supplying the forwards with opportunities to attack the Coventry penalty area.

A well-worked corner routine then made its way to Shinnie. A small touch out of his feet meant the midfielder could drive a low effort through a crowd of bodies, a small deflection the only thing keeping the score level.

The Sky Blues continued to slow the game down but still the persistent Hatters battled to break them down. The Town also had their own penalty appeals waved away when Hylton felt he was tripped by Dujon Sterling.

Mpanzu spurned a chance wide when Justin fed a wonderfully-weighted pass through, and substitute LuaLua prodded over as the game entered its final ten minutes.

Sterling proved the visitors were still lurking when he lofted a fine ball into the middle where Dominic Hyam was waiting to head wide, before LuaLua’s low effort comfortably found its way into the gloves of Burge as still the ball wouldn’t find the back of the net at the other end.

Justin put another good cross into the area where Lee tried to flick his header in, but Burge watched it over the whole way. Collins then pulled a top save out of the Coventry number one in stoppage time to deny the Hatters who forged ample chances to snatch all three points.

With one of the last passages of play, perhaps the best chance of the game fell to McCormack as Elliot Lee's free-kick from the edge of the box was deflected into the midfielder's path.

McCormack, already falling backwards, hit his shot straight back into the arms of Burge when a prod either side of the keeper would surely have won the game.

By then, it became clear that the Hatters would have to share the points after throwing everything at the away side to try and break them down.

The side have now accumulated 53 points from a possible 63, scoring 48 in the process. With another home match next Saturday against Rochdale to look forward to, the Town can now prepare and hope to be back to winning ways at the Kenny in a week’s time.

 

TOWN: Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley (c), Justin, McCormack, Shinnie, Mpanzu, Moncur (Lee 65), Hylton (LuaLua 77), Collins. Subs: Potts, Cummings, Thorne, Sheehan, Isted

Goals: Pearson 16

Yellows: Mpanzu, LuaLua

CITY: Burge, Mason, Willis, Kelly (c), Hiwula, Hyam, Sterling, Bayliss, Bakayoko (Shipley 29), Thomas (Meyler 77), Enobakhare (Wakefield 84). Subs: Grimmer, Davies, Bremang, Addai (GK)

Goals: Shipley 35

Yellows: Bayliss, Thomas, Kelly

REFEREE: Ross Joyce

ATT: 9,810 (819 away)


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