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Match Reports


Hatters held, but equal club record of 11 unbeaten EFL away games

9 March 2019

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The Hatters had to settle for a point from a goalless draw at Plymouth this afternoon, but equalled another club record as they made it 11 successive away Football League games without defeat.

Mick Harford's men continuously knocked on the 14th-placed Argyle's door, especially during an impressive second-half showing that might have produced more than the one point had it not been for a man-of-the-match performance from one-time Town loanee Matt Macey in the home goal.

The on-loan Arsenal man tipped a James Collins header onto the crossbar, then produced two more excellent saves to deny Elliot Lee as the Hatters piled on the pressure, but ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils that extended the club record unbeaten EFL run to 23 matches - the equivalent of half a season since second-placed Barnsley beat us in mid-October.

Harford named an unchanged starting line-up and substitutes’ bench following last week's 2-0 home win over Rochdale.

In goal was James Shea, behind a back four of Jack Stacey, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley - making his first return to Home Park since his summer move as captain - and James Justin.

Alan McCormack anchored the midfield with Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Andrew Shinnie either side of him, and Lee just behind the front two of Danny Hylton and leading scorer Collins.

Plymouth started the brighter and Ruben Lameiras went closest with a fourth-minute drive that flew across the six-yard box and safely wide of Shea's far post.

The Hatters grew into the game and Shinnie fired the first shot on target in the 13th minute, hitting a volley straight at Macey after Collins knocked Pearson's clipped ball into his path, then Mpanzu did similar two minutes later from the edge of the box.

Lee then had two cracks at goal in as many minutes; the first a free-kick from 30 yards that was too high, then a side-footed effort from eight yards that Argyle defender Ryan Edwards blocked almost on the line, after Mpanzu cut back from the right byline.

Referee Darren Drysdale then became the centre of attention, first booking Argyle midfielder Graham Carey for a blatant foul on Shinnie when he could have played advantage and shown the yellow card later, with Stacey in good possession on the Town right.

Then Hylton was booked for a relatively tame coming together with Niall Canavan, before Drysdale spoke to him - together with captain Bradley - soon after when he was penalised for handball as he lay on the ground having seemingly been fouled from behind by Canavan.

Harford took the call to take the striker off and bring Kazenga LuaLua on in his place with ten minutes to go before the break, in order to prevent a possible red.

A scrappy period of play continued until Drysdale produced his third yellow of the half, for arguably the worst challenge, as Edwards took Justin out as the left-back raced onto a pass from Collins just inside the Town half, halting a dangerous-looking counter attack in full flow.

The second half started in much the same vein, but once the Hatters got the ball down and started to make in-roads down the side of the three Plymouth centre-halves, chances started to come.

First, Collins played Shinnie in on the right and the Scot's cross eventually found Justin, whose attempt to slip Mpanzu to the byline was turned behind for a corner. Justin delivered that, and Bradley found himself free at the far post, but controlled and crossed low into the six-yard box, when an initial volley at goal might have been better.

At the other end Shea was called into action in the 54th minute to keep out an angled shot by Lameiras as Argyle broke swiftly down the right through Freddie Ladapo and Joe Riley, but the Town were soon back on the attack, with Collins firing just side from 20 yards in the 54th minute.

Macey had to be at his acrobatic best in the 56th minute to tip a Collins header onto the crossbar after LuaLua had stood up a lovely ball to the far post after bursting past his man to the left byline.

Lee was the next to call the home keeper into action, letting fly from 20 yards, but the Arsenal loanee was able to get across his line and push the ball behind for another corner.

Lameiras was proving Plymouth's most-likely, and he drove inside from the right touchline on the hour but sent his low shot into the side netting as Shea dived full stretch to his left to cover.

Pearson was at his usual obdurate best two minutes later to stand Ladapo up as he drove towards the Hatters box from halfway on the Argyle right, winning a challenge and half clearing, before powering a header out of the penalty area as Argyle changed the angle of attack as Carey crossed from the left.

The Town came closest to going in front in the 66th minute, but were once again denied by Macey, as Mpanzu cut the ball back from the left of the six-yard box and Lee let it run across his to make space for a shot. An Argyle defender sliding in front of him got a deflection, and Macey did brilliantly to react and tip the ball around the post as it seemed destined for the bottom corner of the hosts' net.

Lee had another go in the 73rd minute, this one relatively straight forward for Macey as it was straight at him, then Shinnie became the fifth player booked, for a foul on Carey, before Argyle sub Ryan Taylor's attempted curler went well wide.

David Fox became the fourth home player into the ref's notepad for a foul from behind on Mpanzu when the midfielder had already laid the ball off and Shinnie was away down the right, just as was the case with Stacey in the first half.

With no advantage played, the Hatters looked to create on themselves as Justin arced a terrific ball in from the flank, but Lee just couldn't connect with his header as it travelled dangerously through the six-yard box.

Dan Potts was introduced for Justin in the 82nd minute, and with three minutes left - after Mpanzu had shot well over the bar - the left-back sent an inviting cross low into the six-yard box, but Collins sliding in didn't have the chance to get a tap-in as Macey spread himself well to gather just in front of him.

The draw, combined with Sunderland's last-gasp equaliser at Wycombe, meant the Hatters remain seven points above the third-placed Black Cats, although the lead over Barnsley was cut to three points with the Tykes beating Accrington 2-0 at Oakwell.

Next up, Bradford away on Tuesday night.


TOWN: Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley (c), Justin, McCormack, Shinnie, Mpanzu, Lee, Hylton (LuaLua 35), Collins. Subs: Potts, Berry, Moncur, Cummings, Sheehan, Isted

Yellows: Hylton, Shinnie

ARGYLE: Macey, Riley, Sawyer ©, Songo’o, Edwards, Fox, Carey, Lameiras (Anderson 90+2), Canavan, Ladapo (Taylor 69), Threlkeld (Ness 69). Subs: Smith-Brown, Wootton, Fletcher, Cooper (GK)

Yellows: Carey, Edwards, Canavan, Fox


REFEREE: Darren Drysdale

ATT: 11,081 (1,215 Hatters)

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