LuaLua strikes to earn Luton a last-gasp leveller at Saddlers

League One: Walsall 2 Luton Town 2

Saturday, 29th December 2018, 5:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 11:13 am
Kazenga LuaLua celebrates his last-gasp equaliser against Walsall

A dramatic stoppage time equaliser from Kazenga LuaLua ensured Luton Town kept their long unbeaten record going after fighting back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Walsall this afternoon.

It had looked like the Hatters were going to taste defeat for the first time since October 13 when they went 2-0 down on 67 minutes.

However, James Collins then pulled one back with 18 to go, and despite Danny Hylton having what looked like a perfectly good leveller wrongly disallowed for offside, they showed huge character in the last minutes of stoppage time.

Alan Sheehan swung a corner over, Matty Pearson's header was palmed upwards by keeper Liam Roberts, with the rebound cleverly flicked over the line by LuaLua, who wheeled away to celebrate with the almost 2,000 travelling supporters.

The result kept Luton in second place, as although leaders Portsmouth romped to a 5-2 win at Fleetwood, their gap to second remained at four points, with Sunderland held 1-1 at home by Shrewsbury.

Earlier, Luton boss Nathan Jones made one change, Alan McCormack in for Jorge Grant, while with Marek Stech injured, Harry Isted took his place on the bench.

The Hatters had the first real chance on 18 minutes, Elliot Lee playing the ball into Harry Cornick and when it ran free, Lee unleashed an effort from the edge of the area which Roberts tipped over.

James Justin's corner was met by Sonny Bradley, Roberts claiming confidently, as the hosts then broke, a deep cross reaching Andy Cook, easily collected by James Shea.

Midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu looked to have given Luton the lead when teed up by Collins, only to see his delicious curling effort cannon off the post after beating Roberts all ends up.

Despite looking like they were about to step up and take control, Town then conceded a penalty on 26 minutes when Jack Stacey needlessly tripped George Dobson after he had gone on the outside.

Shea tried to read Morgan Ferrier's spotkick, but it was low and to his right, the visiting keeper reacting too late to do anything other than pick the ball out of the net.

After going down with what looked like a thigh problem, Cornick was then replaced by Hylton, although the Town attacker appeared to motion to the bench that he felt he could carry on.

The game started to get more stretched and heated in the second period, as Luton tried to remain patient in their attempts to find a leveller, although saw both McCormack and Hylton enter the referee's notebook for ill-judged challenges.

Jones brought on LuaLua for Lee just after the hour mark, but Luton were then 2-0 down on 67 minutes, the game appearing done and dusted.

Ferrier slipped when trying to send over a cross, Hatters switching off momentarily, allowing Luke Leahy to deliver and when Shea didn't get enough on his punch, Cook was there to volley into the net.

Josh Gordon's 20-yarder was straight at Shea, before the Hatters were back in it with 18 minutes to go.

McCormack set off on a powerful run forward, his shot deflecting into the path of Collins in the area, who swivelled and slammed an effort through the legs of Roberts to make it 2-1.

Hylton thought he had drawn Luton level moments later getting a head to Mpanzu's fierce volley to divert it past Roberts, but the linesman's flag went up as the goal was chalked off, although footage shows the striker was in an onside position.

Liam Kinsella hammered over from 20 yards, the game becoming a thrilling end-to-end encounter, with Jones throwing Bradley upfront, as he volleyed sub Alan Sheehan's cross wide too, LuaLua blazing into the stands as well.

Town kept on pressing though, fashioning a great chance when a clearance dropped to Justin on the edge of the box, who had time to steady himself, only to drag off target.

However, Luton's never-say-side attitude eventually paid off, thanks to LuaLua, stretching their unbeaten League One run to 12 games ahead of their New Year's Day encounter at home to fellow promotion hopefuls Barnsley.

Saddlers: Liam Roberts, Joe Edwards, Luke Leahy, George Dobson (C), Jon Guthrie, Nicky Devlin, Andy Cook, Liam Kinsella, Morgan Ferrier, Jack Fitzwater, Josh Gordon (Kane Wilson 80).

Subs not used: Chris Dunn, Kieron Morris, Zeli Ismail, Connor Johnson, Connor Ronan, Alfie Bates.

Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, James Justin, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley (C), Alan McCormack, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Andrew Shinnie (Alan Sheehan 73), Elliot Lee (Kazenga LuaLua 63), James Collins, Harry Cornick (Danny Hylton 35).

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Luke Berry, Jorge Grant, Lloyd Jones.

Booked: Gordon 55, McCormack 60, Hylton 61, LuaLua 90, Collins 90.

Referee: Ollie Yates.

Attendance: 5,739 (1,957 Luton).