League Two: Luton Town 1 Crewe Alexandra 1
Luton Town were held to a third straight draw in League Two after a hugely uninspiring performance against Crewe Alexandra this afternoon.
Although Danny Hylton had put Luton in front with his seventh of the campaign on the stroke of half time, the hosts produced a display lacking any kind of real spark, with Crewe always looking the side more likely to score.
That turned out to be the case too, as the Railwaymen deservedly got the leveller their neat and incisive play thoroughly deserved, veteran Ryan Lowe losing James Justin to nod home the back post just after the hour mark.
A telling factor in just how little the home supporters had been entertained, was the lack of a roar that usually accompanies the fourth official's board to signal injury time, with many already accepting they weren't about to witness a late winner.
Keeper Christian Walton had made it back from his rather pointless trip to Kazakhstan to sit on the bench for the England U21s to take his place between the posts, while Jake Gray was preferred to Jordan Cook, who was out with illness, as Glen Rea recovered sufficiently to be named on the bench.
It looked like Crewe had gone ahead inside a minute, when Charlie Kirk's low drive saw the net ripple, but thankfully it had flown into the side-netting, while Walton show no signs of jetlag, getting down smartly to repel Chris Dagnall's low attempt.
That was to set the tone for the majority of the first half, with Crewe able to keep an increasingly narrow Town at arms length, as Walton was by far the more overworked keeper during the first 20 minutes, getting down well to push Billy Bingham's left footer aside.
It took Luton 27 minutes to force a save of any real note from Ben Garratt, as Cameron McGeehan's shot skipped up off the turf and hit him in the face, the keeper recovering to grab the rebound ahead of Marriott.
Hatters then had the lead out of absolutely nothing, with a goal of serious quality though, as Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu picked the ball up deep and produced a superb chip over the top for Gray, who had escaped his marker.
The midfielder took it first time, cushioning a volley across goal where Hylton was lurking to tap home from close range.
Despite the bonus of the lead, Luton didn't look like they had the where with all to about increasing that in the second period, as Crewe began the better once more, half time sub Tom Lowery finding space for a shot, deflecting behind.
Still, the visitors found pockets of space between Luton's midfield and defence, particularly on the left, where there was an alarming lack of cover for full back James Justin at times.
Billy Bingham's snapshot flew just wide with Walton scrambling across his goal, while George Cooper's free kick landed on the roof of the net, as Alex fired a number of warning shots.
Town didn't heed them though and were pegged back on 64 minutes when Cooper's pinpoint cross to the far post was expertly nodded home by Lowe, as Luton failed to keep a clean sheet for the seventh league game running.
Although with the equaliser, Crewe then didn't pose as great an attacking threat, Luton couldn't really build up a meaningful head of steam, Alan Sheehan harmlessly over the bar from a free kick, with Hylton stabbing off target from Cuthbert's header.
Jones threw on Glen Rea and Josh McQuoid, with the latter trying the spectacular with seven minutes left, firing over, but time and time again, Hatters kept passing the ball across the back-line, showing no real urgency to grab the winner.
As it was, that proved the case, with Hatters dropping down to fifth in the table, and now trail leaders Plymouth by some nine points, after the Pilgrims won again at Stevenage.
Hatters: Christian Walton, James Justin, Dan Potts, Scott Cuthbert, Alan Sheehan, Olly Lee (Glen Rea 80), Jake Gray, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Alex Gilliead 62), Cameron McGeehan, Danny Hylton, Jack Marriott (Josh McQuoid 80).
Subs not used: Craig King, Stephen O'Donnell, Jonathan Smith, Isaac Vassell.
Crewe: Ben Garratt, Oliver Turton, Jon Guthrie, Harry Davis, Ryan Lowe (C), Chris Dagnall, George Cooper, Zoumana Bakayogo, Danny Hollands, Billy Bingham, Charlie Kirk (Tom Lowery 46).
Subs not used: Ben Nugent, Dave Richards, Danuel Udoh, Ryan Wintle, Perry Ng, Callum Ainley.
Bookings: Lee 26, Mpanzu 59, Bakayogo 74.
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley.
Attendance: 7,716 (Crewe 254).
Hatters MOM: Scott Cuthbert - skipper marked his 50th game with some excellent clearances.