League Two: Luton Town 2 York City 2
Super sub Mark Cullen was Luton Town’s saviour as Hatters came from 2-0 down to earn a share of the spoils against bogey side York City in a breathless encounter at Kenilworth Road this evening.
The hosts had looked like they would surrender their 11-game home unbeaten run in League Two after falling behind in the second half, only for Cullen to come off the bench and rescue a point. Both sides finished with 10 men too as Jake Hyde was dismissed for York, followed by Luton skipper Steve McNulty on his 100th Hatters appearance.
Town had made one change to the side, with Spurs youngster Nathan Oduwa handed his professional debut after impressing at Oxford on Saturday, Shaun Whalley dropping to the bench
The hosts had looked threatening in the opening stages too as Ryan Hall on his home bow, burst away, exchanging passes with Oduwa to shoot over.
However, despite the odd bright opening, mainly through the speed and trickery of Oduwa, the game degenerated into a tedious affair as Luton created little, bar Jayden Stockley glancing wide.
Hatters somehow failed to take the lead on 35 minutes when Oduwa took advantage of a defensive slip and teed up Drury, who from six yards out skied horribly over.
Moments later, Hatters wasted another glorious opportunuity as Hall fed the overlapping Jake Howells and his inch-perfect cross was headed straight at Bobby Olejnik by Stockley.
Hatters were even closer on the stroke of half time when Stockley met Hall’s corner at the back post but although his header beat Olejnik, Marvin McCoy nodded off the line.
After the break, Town tried to make a fast start, with Jonathan Smith’s shot parried behind by Olejnik.
Luke Wilkinson was then forced off with injury as Alex Lacey came on, but City sprung a surprise, moving ahead on 55 minutes when Michael Harriman was beaten to a cross by Josh Carson for the softest of openers.
Things got even worse moments later as Emile Sinclair was allowed the freedom of the area to beat Mark Tyler with an angled drive.
York’s jubilation quicky turned to anger when Hyde challenged Nathan Doyle in the centre circle and was shown a straight red card.
Hatters boss John Still brought on Cullen and Whalley, and it was leading scorer Cullen who brought Town back into proceedings, flicking a volley home from Whalley’s corner.
York remained a threat, with Michael Coulson testing Tyler twice in quick succession, but buoyed by the goal, Hatters ramped up the pressure, Whalley’s curler forcing Olejnik to palm away.
It paid odd too as Hatters levelled in magnificent fashion on 71 minutes, Whalley beating his man and whipping over the perfect cross for Cullen to bury his header.
Town’s numerical advantage was then wiped out as Doyle was forced off, while McNulty put a good chance over and Whalley was denied by Olejnik.
Doyle had to then bravely hobble back on with five minutes remaining as McNulty was shown a straight red by referee Charles Shakespear for a studs up challenge on Bradley Halliday.
York were quite clearly happy with the draw from then on, seeing both McCoy and Olejnik booked for time-wasting, while Oduwa almost won it at the death with another direct run and low shot, but Olejnik stuck out a hand to ensure the points were shared.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Michael Harriman, Jake Howells, Luke Wilkinson (Alex Lacey 53), Steve McNulty (C), Nathan Doyle, Jonathan Smith, Andy Drury (Mark Cullen 57), Nathan Oduwa, Ryan Hall (Shaun Whalley 63), Jayden Stockley.
Subs not used: Elliott Justham, Luke Guttridge, Matt Robinson, Alex Wall.
Minstermen: Bobby Olejnik, Marvin McCoy, Michael Coulson, Russell Penn (C), Josh Carson (Lindon Meikle 76), Keith Lowe, Bradley Halliday, Malvind Benning, Emile Sinclair (Wes Fletcher 75), Stephane Zubar, Jake Hyde.
Subs not used: Femi Ilesanmi, John McCombe, Lewis Montrose, Tom Pratt, Michael Ingham.
Referee: Craig Shakespear.
Booked: Smith 84, Olejnik 89, McCoy 90.
Sent off: Hyde 60, McNulty 85.
Attendance: 7,763 (173 York).
Hatters MOM: Mark Cullen, changed the game with two predatory finishes.