Heartache for Hatters as Robins deny Town top spot
League Two: Cheltenham 2 Luton Town 2
A last-gasp equaliser from defender William Boyle denied Luton a place at the top of the League Two table this afternoon as they once again failed to win at Cheltenham Town.
It had looked like the Hatters were destined to break their duck at the LCI Rail Stadium, when Elliot Lee, on as a second half substitute rifled home with just five minutes to go.
However, in the final minute of stoppage time, keeper Marek Stech, so often the hero for Luton this term, stumbled when retrieving the ball, giving away a needless corner.
When it was swung in, Stech then missed his punch, and visiting stopper Ross Flinders, up from his area, headed it goalwards for Boyle to turn home from on the line to rescue an unlikely point.
Had Luton taken their chances, they could and really should have already been out of sight, the recalled Harry Cornick the biggest culprit, missing a one-on-one and blasting over twice when well placed.
Cornick was one of two changes to the side from last weekend's 1-0 FA Cup win over Portsmouth, with Glen Rea in as well, Andrew Shinnie and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu dropping to the bench.
Town reverted to the 4-3-3 formation that had served them so well at both Exeter and Accrington last month, although Cheltenham showed first, Mohamed Eisa escaping the attentions of Alan Sheehan and his low cross was just in front of Kyle Storer.
However, Town led with their first attack. Cornick won a corner on the right and Sheehan's deep delivery to the back post saw Dan Potts thump his header beyond Flinders for a third goal of the season.
Cornick was showing just why he was brought back into the side causing havoc on the right hand flank, and when one such advance wasn't properly cleared, Rea put his ambitious volley well wide.
Luton should have doubled their advantage on 20 minutes though as Potts met another corner at the back post where it was cleared and recycled to Luke Berry.
He beat his man and floated over a perfect cross, that bounced off Danny Hylton from a few yards out and fell wide, the striker obviously thinking it was going to be cleared from a defender situated just in front of him.
Midway through the half, Brian Graham's downward header didn't miss by much, Jerell Sellars over from range too.
Rea, who had chanced his arm from range a number of times with little luck, then came the closest he had on the half hour, sending a rasping drive just off target from Hylton's pull back.
The hosts were level on 37 minutes though when after a brief spell of pressure, the ball was sent in from the right and deflected over Town's defence where Jamie Grimes reacted quickest to turn home from a few yards out.
Luton went close to restoring their advantage moments before half time, with a quickfire break, Hylton feeding Cornick whose low cross was cleared into James Collins and away.
Town then had two glorious opportunities of their own in stoppage time, Collins picked out by Cornick and after dumping Taylor Moore on his backside, got too much on his curler, skying into the stands.
Hatters fashioned an even better chance with Olly Lee's vision spotting the run of Cornick who went clean through, but faced with Flinders one-on-one, he was denied by the onrushing keeper.
An injury to Collins on the stroke of half time saw him replaced by Elliot Lee at the interval, for his longest league run out in a Town shirt this term.
It was Cornick who went closest though as six minutes in, he picked the ball up and burst into the box, but as was to prove a frustrating theme, powered his effort over from a decent position.
The game then became an end to end encounter, with Town committing men forward, but just unable to find that killer pass or shot, to retake the lead.
Cheltenham appeared to have weathered the pressure and started have their own spell of dominance, dominating both possession and territory as Graham's low shot required a splendid block from Sheehan, Boyle glanced over, with Mohamed Eisa's control letting down at the crucial moment.
The striker then failed again with 13 minutes to go, as sub Danny Wright's header fell into his path, but he couldn't connect with his outside of the foot attempt.
Cornick's frustrating waywardness in front of goal was demonstrated again on 79 minutes as after working the space, he whacked into the stands.
Olly Lee almost showed his team-mate how its done, letting fly from 30 yards with his left foot, inches wide of the top corner.
Stech was called into action to dive across his goal and keep out Kyle Storer's free kick, before a set-piece for the Hatters on 85 minutes finally led to their second.
Sheehan's strike cannoned into the wall, with the ball dropping invitingly for Elliot Lee to clinically find the bottom corner.
It looked for all the world that Luton would see the game out the five minutes of injury time and they were 30 seconds away until Stech's mistake proved costly and Boyle did the rest.
The result saw Luton drop out of the top three, replaced by Exeter City, who defeated Grimsby Town 2-0, although the Hatters remain just one point behind the Grecians and two off top spot.
Robins: Scott Flinders, Jamie Grimes, Jordan Cranston (Daniel O'Shaughnessy 34), Kyle Storer (C), Harry Pell, Carl Winchester, William Boyle, Jerell Sellars, Mohammed Eisa (Freddie Hinds 79), Brian Graham (Danny Wright 74), Taylor Moore.
Subs not used: Jonathan Flatt, Matthew Bower, Alex Davey.
Hatters: Marek Stech, Jack Stacey, Dan Potts, Scott Cuthbert (C), Alan Sheehan, Glen Rea, Olly Lee, Luke Berry, Harry Cornick (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 90), Danny Hylton, James Collins (Elliot Lee 46).
Subs not used: James Justin, Andrew Shinnie, Lawson D'Ath, James Shea, Jordan Cook.
Booked: Hylton 73, Sheehan 87, Berry 88, Stech 90.
Referee: Rob Lewis.
Attendance: 3,900 (1,007 Luton).