Skrill Premier: Aldershot 3 (3) Luton Town 3 (2)
Substitute Shaun Whalley’s first Hatters goal rescued a point as Town were held to a 3-3 draw at Aldershot in the Skrill Premier tonight, writes Mike Simmonds.
The winger entered the fray on 71 minutes, before winning and coolly converting a penalty nine minutes later to extend Luton’s unbeaten run to six games.
It could have been so much more for Town as they twice led in the first half, but then paid for defensive inadequacies to trail 3-2 at the break.
Hatters, who recalled Jake Howells for Alex Lawless, took the lead with their first attack thanks to a stunning individual strike from Andre Gray.
Taking Luke Guttridge’s pass, he went wider and wider, before cutting back on to his left foot, and perfectly picked out the bottom corner.
The hosts were level on 12 minutes though when a high ball was headed goalwards and, with Mark Tyler calling for it, he was beaten by a Shots attacker, with former Town loanee Jake Goodman prodding the ball over the line from close range.
A breathless opening continued as Town were back in front on 16 minutes when Gray’s long run ended in the visitors winning a corner.
From the set-play, Steve McNulty headed goalwards and Andy Parry stuck out a knee to divert the ball over the line for his first Hatters goal.
A training ground free-kick saw Town go close to a third goal as Guttridge’s lofted delivery saw Paul Benson peel away to the back post and send a looping volley over.
With 24 minutes on the clock, Shots drew level for a second time as a long ball was flicked on by Brett Williams and McNulty missed his clearance, allowing Jordan Roberts to rifle home.
The hosts then completed their comeback on the stroke of half time when midfielder Mark Molesley took advantage of some weak defending by Parry and McNulty to finish with aplomb past Tyler.
After the break, Luton had a superb chance to level immediately when Gray skipped clear and his cross was scooped over from close range by Guttridge.
Gray then had a chance on 62 minutes, but this time his radar was off, while Tyler had to scramble low down to block from Jaydon Gibbs.
As on Saturday, Alex Wall was brought on to try and add some more muscle to Town’s attack, and he arched his back to head Ronnie Henry’s cross over.
It was another John Still substitution though, that led to the leveller. Whalley was sent on and his direct run was ended by a foul by Lewis Young. He then showed tremendous nerve to atone for his earlier spot-kick miss at Southport and beat Nick Pope.
Town’s defence then came under pressure again as McNulty produced a wonderful block from Roberts after he had wriggled clear and looked set to score, while Gibbs had the last chance, but blazed off target when well placed.
The result saw Hatters climb to fourth in the table, but are now 10 points behind leaders Cambridge ahead of Saturday’s home clash with rock-bottom Hyde.
Shots: Nick Pope, Joe Oastler, Craig Stanley, Jake Goodman, Brett Williams, Manny Oyeleke, Jordan Roberts (Meshack Douglas 78), Chris Barker, Mark Molesley, Jaydon Gibbs, Lewis Young. Substitutes not used: Matt Paterson, Arron Wickham, Cameron Brown, Luke Williams.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Ronnie Henry, Scott Griffiths, Steve McNulty, Alex Lacey, Andrew Parry (Shaun Whalley 71), Jonathan Smith, Luke Guttridge, Paul Benson, Andre Gray, Jake Howells (Alex Wall 59). Substitutes not used: Anthony Charles, Elliot Justham, Matt Robinson.
Booked: Oyeleke 67; Young 80; Smith 89.
Referee: Paul Rees.
Assistant Referees: George Prague and Stuart Pawley.
Fourth official: Maurice Taylor.
Attendance: 2,683 (840 Luton).
Star Hatter: Andre Gray. Hatters striker caused the Shots defence no end of problems all evening.