Hatters denied victory by dramatic Addicks leveller
League One: Luton Town 2 Charlton Athletic 2
Luton were denied what would have been a huge win over Charlton Athletic in dramatic fashion at Kenilworth Road this afternoon, the visitors scoring an equaliser in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time.
After trailing once more at the break, Town had turned their fortunes around in a breathtaking seven minute second half spell, Harry Cornick and James Collins both netting their first goals of the season to make it 2-1.
But during time added on, with the majority for the visitors' delaying tactics in the second period, Chris Solly pounced to volley home his first goal in over six years and steal a point.
Boss Nathan Jones named an unchanged side for the clash against one of the big hitters in League One, who came into the game on the back of four straight wins.
New signing Kazenga LuaLua earned a place on the bench, where he was joined by the fit again Alan McCormack.
The visitors looked to impose themselves early on, Ben Reeves selling Town's defence a dummy, his low shot easy for James Shea.
Elliot Lee's curler didn't come back enough, while Shea then had to be alert to palm Lyle Taylor's angled effort behind for a corner
Luton took a good 10 minutes to really get into the game, producing their best moment when the ball was worked to Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, his cut back seeing Andrew Shinnie drag wide.
Now playing a full part in proceedings, Town almost went ahead when a lovely move on the right saw Jack Stacey overlap, his low cross met at the far post by Shinnie, the midfielder unable to direct his effort over the line, Jason Pearce in the way.
Despite looking to have wrested the initiative back, Hatters then fell behind on 23 minutes. Joe Aribo broke into the box, where he went down under an unnecessary challenge from Collins, with boss Jones later arguing the offence took place outside the area.
Fosu stepped up and after a stuttering run, made no mistake, clinically sending Shea the wrong way to make it 1-0, putting Luton behind in the first half for the seventh time in 10 League One matches this season.
With the balloon popped somewhat, Town offered little for the remainder of the half in terms of clear-cut chances, Jorge Grant's free kick from 25 yards flying over, the closest they came.
The hosts thought they had made it 1-1 on the stroke of half time, when Dan Potts' cross was nodded back by Glen Rea for Grant to stab home from close range, only for the linesman's flag to go up, chalking the goal off.
After the break, Town sent three men out to try and deal with Fosu, whose cross was met by the unmarked Taylor to fire into the stands.
Luton should have been level on 55 minutes, Grant sending Lee clear only to see his angled drive repelled by Jed Steer's legs, the striker's rebound clipping the outside of the post.
Steer then bizarrely began operating some timewasting tactics to try and run the game down from every goal kick, which only led to increase Luton's desire to get something from the game, while bringing the home fans into play too.
With such an array of attacking riches, the visitors always had chances to increase their lead, Reeves turning and hammering inches over.
Luton had a magnificent chance to restore parity with 18 minutes to go, Stacey playing the perfect pass for Cornick who with just Steer to beat, blasted over the bar.
However, the substitute, on his 50th game for the club, had instant redemption, as from the goal kick, Matty Pearson's clearance was flicked on by Collins and Cornick reacted quickest to slip the ball through the legs of Steer for his first goal since February 3.
Cornick almost had a second moments later, Lee's deflected shot falling into his path, but he was unable to beat a posse of defenders.
Steer magnificently prevented Lee's low effort from creeping into the bottom corner, before with nine to go, Luton were in front.
Mpanzu's delicious effort from the edge of the box looked to have nestled into the top corner, only to hit the woodwork, the rebound falling perfectly for Collins who sidefooted home, wheeling away in sheer relief at ending his 14-game drought for a goal stretching back to April 2.
With their noses now in front, the hosts could, and should, have sealed victory as Cornick sped away from halfway.
He might have gone down under the challenge from Solly, ironically, which would surely have seen the Addicks hero sent off, instantly changing the course of events.
But Town's speedy attacker stayed on his feet, although yet again, with Steer out to meet him, blazed high and wide to ensure the lead stayed at just one.
That saw the start of five minutes of stoppage time, in which Charlton just kept on coming.
First, they were denied what looked a second penalty, Stacey hauling back Taylor in the area, nothing given by referee Antony Coggins.
The right back was then penalised for the same incident moments later, as Athletic laid siege.
A corner saw Jason Pearce hit the bar, with Naby Sarr's rebound nodded off the line by Glen Rea.
The following set-piece was met by Aribo, denied by the crossbar once more, the rebound turned behind for yet another corner.
From the final one, Solly met it on the volley, hammering through a crowd of players for a leveller to break Town's hearts, sending the away end into bedlam.
Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley, Dan Potts, Glen Rea (C), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jorge Grant (Harry Cornick 66), Andrew Shinnie (James Justin 90), Elliot Lee, James Collins.
Subs not used: Harry Isted, Alan Sheehan, Aaron Jarvis, Kazenga LuaLua, Alan McCormack.
Addicks: Jed Steer, Lewis Page, Jason Pearce (C), Lyle Taylor, Tarique Fosu (Nicky Ajose 87), Ben Reeves (George Lapslie 84), Igor Vetokele (Karlan Grant 76), Joe Aribo, Chris Solly, Naby Sarr, Josh Cullen.
Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Anfernee Dijksteel, Mark Marshall, Darren Pratley.
Booked: Page 62, Potts 65, Cullen 78, Lapslie 90, Lee 90.
Referee: Antony Coggins.
Attendance: 9,502 (1,032 Charlton).