Hatters are held at home once more

League Two: Luton Town 1 Exeter City 1

Saturday, 18th March 2017, 6:15 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:45 am
Town striker Jack Marriott is fouled by Exeter defender Troy Brown

Luton Town suffered further frustration in their attempts to hunt down an automatic promotion place with yet another draw this afternoon, their 14th of the season and fourth in the last six games.

With third placed Portsmouth going down 3-0 at Stevenage, the Hatters had a great chance to put their destiny back into their own hands once more, but despite a rousing last 20 minutes, could only leave Kenilworth Road with a point yet again.

However, although Luton remained in fifth place, defeat for Pompey meant the Hatters did actually close the gap on their south coast rivals to five points, still with that game in hand at Newport on Tuesday night.

Results elsewhere too saw the chasing pack bunch up even more though, with 10th placed Wycombe just four points adrift, making Luton's trip to Wales in midweek one that is now considered must-win at all costs.

Hatters made three changes for the match, with Jack Marriott, Jonathan Smith and Jack Senior in for Isaac Vassell, Olly Lee and Dan Potts.

The visitors were forced into a switch after just five minutes, when Jordan Moore-Taylor clattered into Marriott and had to be taken off with a head injury, Luke Croll on in his place.

Luton started promisingly, Marriott and Danny Hylton seeing their shots charged down, but Exeter had the first serious effort on 15 minutes, Reuben Reid outmuscling Glen Rea and forcing Matt Macey into a save at his near post.

Although enjoying the majority of possession, all Town could muster in the opening half hour was Jonathan Smith's volley at full stretch from 12 yards that flew over.

Jordan Cook then sent a 30-yard free kick narrowly wide of the target, while Marriott went even closer, his glancing header from Stephen O'Donnell's superb first time cross drawing the best out of Bobby Olejnik, who tipped away, Hylton missing the follow up.

The visitors should have led moments after the break, as Jack Stacey took advantage of a mix-up in Town's backline to square the ball for Reid, just eight yards out.

His first time shot was superbly blocked by Alan Sheehan, with the forward then hammering the rebound woefully over from eight yards in what was a truly glaring miss.

The visitors went even closer on 52 minutes, as a brilliant delivery into the box saw Hylton of all people make a wonderful goal-line clearance as his header cannoned on to Troy Brown and clip the bar on its way over.

Mpanzu then tried to take matters into his own hands, blasting goalwards, with Olejnik palming away, but Exeter looked the most likely to break the deadlock and soon had their just rewards on 59 minutes.

Luton were caught out from their own corner as Exeter launched a quickfire counter attack, with the impressive Stacey once again providing the final ball, and this time Jake Taylor kept his nerve to calmly slot past Macey.

The hosts tried to respond quickly, Cook's volley deflected behind, with Town soon inches away from levelling, sub Ollie Palmer's effort cleared off the line by Croll, with his follow up volley scraping the bar.

Palmer, who was to impress during his cameo, figured prominently in Luton's equaliser when it came on 68 minutes, sending over a glorious delivery for Hylton to power home a header from close range, his 23rd of the season.

The on-loan Leyton Orient man continued to be a nuisance for City's defence, dragging an effort wide at the far post, while Hylton thought he had put Town ahead, racing on to a flick from his strike partner and beating Olejnik, only for the offside flag to curtail any celebrations.

With Isaac Vassell also on by this stage, Luton went direct in the closing stages, but couldn't manufacture anything clear cut, and had to be careful at the other end too, Macey denying Ollie Watkins with his legs.

Palmer almost wriggled through to find the winner his own personal display heralded, Olejnik making a sprawling stop, while the forward couldn't sort his feet out in time to make anything of the loose ball as the spoils were shared.

Hatters: Matt Macey, Stephen O'Donnell, Jack Senior, Alan Sheehan (C), Glen Rea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jonathan Smith, Jordan Cook (Olly Lee 81), Luke Gambin (Ollie Palmer 66), Jack Marriott (Isaac Vassell 54) Danny Hylton.

Subs not used: Stuart Moore, Lawson D'Ath, Akin Famewo, James Justin.

Grecians: Bobby Olejnik, Craig Woodman, Lloyd James, Ryan Harley, David Wheeler, Ollie Watkins, Jordan Moore-Taylor (C, Luke Croll 5), Jake Taylor (Matt Oakley 85), Jack Stacey, Reuben Reid (Jordan Tillson 74), Troy Brown.

Subs not used: Joel Grant, James Hamon, Ethan Ampadu, Pierce Sweeney.

Booked: Watkins 37, Sheehan 56, Senior 83.

Attendance: 7,657 (415 Exeter).

Referee: Trevor Kettle.