Hatters held at home by Sky Blues
League One: Luton Town 1 Coventry City 1
Luton Town saw their run of six successive victories ended by a determined Coventry City in front of the Sky TV cameras this afternoon.
Although the Hatters dominated large parts of the play, particularly in the second period, they just couldn't break through a dogged visiting side, who managed to keep them at arm's length.
The hosts were unchanged after beating Fleetwood 2-1 last weekend, and had a great chance inside the opening five minutes when Danny Hylton found the overlapping Jack Stacey who teed up top scorer James Collins, but he got underneath his effort.
Town continued their fine start, Andrew Shinnie picking up George Moncur's pass and driving down the centre of the pitch, only to shoot over the top from 20 yards.
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Shinnie was having a real influence in the early stages, nicking the ball back and breaking into the box, his low attempt missing the bottom corner.
There was an element of fortune about the manner in which Hatters had the lead on 17 minutes, as James Justin appeared to get the final touch on a burst forward, only for referee Ross Joyce to award a corner.
The full back swung it over from the left and there was Matty Pearson completely unmarked to send a downward header through keeper Lee Burge's grasp for a sixth of the season.
Town had an iffy moment when Alan McCormack's backpass was almost pinched by Amadaou Bakayoko, with James Shea lucky not to concede a penalty for his studs high challenge on the attacker.
Rather than kick into gear, the opening goal saw Hatters strangely come off the pace, becoming unusually sloppy in their play and were made to pay by the visitors on 34 minutes.
City were allowed to transfer possession down the left far too easily, with Jordy Hiwula getting the better of Pearson, his ball across perfect for sub Jordan Shipley to beat the exposed Shea.
With the confidence growing after restoring parity, Luke Thomas made room and then chanced his arm, shooting over from 20 yards.
After the break, Town's set-piece prowess almost worked again, with Sonny Bradley this time meeting Justin's delivery, only for Liam Kelly to clear off the line.
Luton were by far the brighter in the second 45 though, looking out of their slumber and Shinnie, who impressed throughout, almost had them back in front just after the hour, advancing into the area, his effort deflected inches past the post.
With 20 to go, the Hatters started committing men forward, Hylton going over in the box under a challenge from Dujon Sterling, with no penalty awarded, while Justin found Mpanzu, who spun cleverly, only to drag just wide.
Going into the final 10 minutes, there was always the chance of City getting a goal on the odd breakaway, Dominic Hyam putting a header off target at the back post.
Sub Elliot Lee looped his header over the top and Collins was crowded out by Burge, but Luton should have won it in stoppage time, when they won a free kick on the edge of the box.
Although Moncur had since been replaced, once again, Justin dummied the set-piece, with Lee this time taking aim.
His side-footer was deflected but fell perfectly for McCormack, who unmarked and just five yards out, couldn't show the composure required in that position, shooting straight at the prostrate Burge, when either side and it was in.
The result saw Luton move five points clear of second placed Barnsley, both now on 34 matches, while Sunderland dropped to seven points behind, having played a game less.
Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, James Justin, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley (C), Alan McCormack, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Andrew Shinnie, George Moncur (Elliot Lee 64), James Collins, Kazenga, Danny Hylton (Kazenga LuaLua 77).
Subs not used: Harry Isted, Dan Potts, Jason Cummings, Alan Sheehan, George Thorne.
City: Lee Burge, Brandon Mason, Jordan Willis, Liam Kelly ©, Jordy Hiwula (David Meyler 77), Dominic Hyam, Dujon Sterling, Tom Bayliss, Amadou Bakayoko (Jordan Shipley 30), Luke Thomas, Bright Enobakhare (Charlie Wakefield 84)
Subs not used: Jack Grimmer, Tom Davies, Corey Addai, David Bremang.
Booked: Mpanzu 28, Bayliss 43, Thomas 58, LuaLua 85, Shipley 90.
Referee: Ross Joyce.
Attendance: 9,810 (819 Coventry).