Hatters face a replay after Shakers’ last-gasp leveller
Luton Town’s name is in the hat for the FA Cup third round on Monday, but they will need a replay to progress after conceding a stoppage time equaliser at Bury this afternoon.
Hatters had led through Mark Cullen’s opportunistic opener after 50 minutes, but the Shakers forced 17 corners in total and it was from their final one that sub Daniel Nardiello fired a leveller.
Earlier, striker Charlie Walker had been handed his first start for the injured Paul Benson, partnering Cullen as Town boss John Still switched to a 3-5-2 formation.
Luke Wilkinson returned from suspension alongside Steve McNulty and Fraser Franks, as Shaun Whalley missed out due to a knock picked up in last weekend’s 3-0 win over Mansfield.
A fairly tepid first half saw chances at a premium for both sides, with Bury’s Danny Mayor cutting in and firing well over.
Walker, who this time last year was scoring twice for Peacehaven in a 3-1 Ryman One South win at Whitstable, had to head off briefly to receive treatment for a blow to the face.
He raced back on to beat Shakers keeper Robert Lainton to Jonathan Smith’s long ball forward only to see his chip fall agonisingly wide, before going to be patched up further.
Hallam Hope and Andy Drury exchanged wayward efforts with the recovered Walker’s cross was just beyond the reach of Cullen.
Bury finally mounted a spell of pressure, as Hope shot into the side-netting and had another drive saved at the second attempt by Mark Tyler.
The hosts’ attacks were all fairly easily repelled by a Luton defence magnificently marshalled by Steve McNulty once more, with Hope, on loan from Everton, the only one to really threaten.
He exchanged passes in the box to fire off target, while Wilkinson then did brilliantly to clear from under his bar from the tricky Danny Mayor’s cross.
After the break, the Shakers’ poor shooting continued as Mayor was wide, while Mark Cullen opted for a spectacular volley and saw it sail over.
The deadlock was then broken in the scrappiest of fashions on 50 minutes as Griffiths showed great determination the left flank.
He sent over a cross at the second time of asking that Lainton, who had looked edgy all afternoon, fumbled at his near post allowing Cullen to slide the ball over the line for his ninth of the campaign.
Bury should have levelled moments later as a defence-splitting pass saw Hope clear but he lobbed horribly over with just Tyler to beat.
Cullen’s low shot was easy for Lainton, before the Shakers upped their momentum as Luton had to defend with real resolution as the corner count continued to rise.
The Shakers forced an opening on 75 minutes, Danny Rose volleying into the gloves of Tyler after finally escaping his markers.
Luton’s keeper then had to punch clear a corner after Michael Harriman almost headed into his own net, while Bury’s profligate finishing looked like it might haunt them when Craig Jones’ skied another very presentable chance from close range.
Howell tested Lainton once more, as the keeper was then beaten all ends up by sub Ricky Miller’s low shot but it cannoned against the inside off the post and into his grateful arms.
Chris Hussey almost saw a corner go straight in as Tyler back-pedalled to tip over, while Jones headed over another delivery into the stands.
However, just when it looked like Luton had done enough, Miller gave away a needless free kick that Bury then won another corner from.
A bout of pinball followed in the area and Nardiello did the rest to ensure a replay at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday week.
Shakers: Robert Lainton, Craig Jones, Jimmy McNulty (C, Chris Hussey 71), Andrew Tutte, Hallam Hope (Daniel Nardiello 83), Nicky Adams (Ryan Lowe 61), Danny Rose, Danny Mayor, Tom Soares, Nathan Cameron, Pablo Mills.
Subs not used: Shwan Jalal, Chris Sedgwick, Keil O’Brien, Scott Burgess.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Fraser Franks, Steve McNulty (C), Luke Wilkinson, Michael Harriman, Jonathan Smith, Nathan Doyle, Andy Drury, Scott Griffiths (Jake Howells 76), Mark Cullen, Charlie Walker (Ricky Miller 59).
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Luke Rooney, Alex Lacey, Matt Robinson, Jim Stevenson.
Referee: Nigel Miller.
Booked: Soares 24, Mills 62, Howells 76.
Attendance: 2,790 (434 Luton).
Hatters MOM: Steve McNulty. Imperious display from Town’s leader.