Hatters suffer controversial defeat at Boro after Collins' penalty is disallowed

Championship: Middlesbrough 1 Luton Town 0

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 9:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 9:36 pm
James Collins saw this penalty disallowed against Middlesbrough
James Collins saw this penalty disallowed against Middlesbrough

Striker James Collins' controversial disallowed penalty saw Luton stretch their winless run on the road to five games with a 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough this evening.

Midway through the second half, the visitors were awarded a spot-kick when Sam Morsey handled Collins' close range blast, an offence he saw red for.

Although Town's leading scorer stepped up to beat Marcus Bettinelli from the spot, he slipped in the process of taking it, with the ball appearing to hit his standing foot on its way into the net.

Referee Andy Davies initially awarded the goal, but surrounded by the Boro players, as was his assistant, reversed the decision on the advice of his fellow official, the strike chalked off.

Town almost grabbed a point in the closing stages, only for Luke Berry's header to draw a stunning save from Bettinelli, ensuring the Hatters travelled home empty-handed once more,

The visitors had made just the one change from the 3-0 win over Preston North End on Saturday, manager Nathan Jones unsurprisingly sticking with the majority of the same side, Rhys Norrington-Davies replacing George Moncur who dropped to the bench where he was joined by the fit-again Danny Hylton.

Town almost had the perfect start, Glen Rea's shot taking a deflection on its way behind and from the corner, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's delivery was met by Dan Potts, who diverted it back into the danger area where Sonny Bradley met it, the ball flying inches past the post.

Hatters stopper James Shea had to parry away Anfernee Dijksteel's cross after he beat the offside trap from a simple ball over the top by opposite number Marcus Bettinelli, his only real work of the opening exchanges.

A scrappy affair saw the Hatters begin to the upper hand slightly when Rea's clipped ball almost released Collins, but his control wasn't quite up to scratch and the home defence smuggled the danger away.

Norrington-Davies then found some space on the left and his cross was just too high for the completely unmarked Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu just eight yards from goal.

Pretty much nothing happened from then until the 42nd minute when a deep free kick fell at the feet of Dael Fry, but his effort went over via a deflection.

Set-pieces were the only real source of goalmouth action at the start of the second half too, George Saville hooking over the top when the ball dropped invitingly for him.

An opening 50 minutes with little to write home about then suddenly came to life, with few expecting the drama that was about to take place.

Luton's slow start to the second period was punished on 52 minutes when Boro drove forward with a rare purpose, and Marvin Johnson was left in space on the left to deliver a low cross-shot that saw Chuba Akpom beat Shea from close range.

Town tried to find an immediate response, Norrington-Davies standing up a cross that Matty Pearson met, only to head harmlessly wide.

Jones threw on Ryan Tunnicliffe and Luke Berry for Dewsbury-Hall and Norrington-Davies midway through the half and with 66 minutes gone, Town had a glorious chance to restore parity.

Rea's wonderful spin saw him get away from two, and sent in a low drive from range that Bettinelli fumbled.

It dropped to Collins, whose follow up was handled by Morsy, the Boro man seeing a straight red.

However, the Town striker's 10th of the season was given and then taken away from him, with the visiting players and staff apoplectic with rage towards the officials

Luton, incensed by the decision, remained on the front foot in what turned into a bad-tempered affair, Berry's goalbound effort hitting a defender to fly over.

Although the man advantage saw the visitors monopolise possession for the final 20 minutes, they just couldn't prise open a solid Boro defence, sub George Moncur's hitting a hopeful and wayward 30-yarder.

They should have been breached again in stoppage time, giving the ball away from a corner and seeing the hosts break with a five on two situation, but Shea flipped Tavernier's effort over the top.

In the final seconds, Luton looked to have snatched a point when Berry met Moncur's corner with a downward header, only to see Bettinelli's heroics prevent Town taking a point home with him, stretching their goal drought to over seven hours on the road now.

Boro: Marcus Bettinelli, Anfernee Dijksteel, Dael Fry, Paddy McNair, Marc Bola, Sam Morsy, George Saville, Marcus Tavernier, Marvin Johnson (Djed Spence 77), Duncan Watmore (Lewis Wing 70), Chuba Akpom (Britt Assombalonga 77).

Subs not used: Patrick Roberts, Sam Folarin, Dejan Stojanovic, Hayden Coulson, Isiah Jones.

Hatters: James Shea, Matty Pearson, Dan Potts, Tom Lockyer, Sonny Bradley ©, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (Ryan Tunnicliffe 62), Glen Rea (Danny Hylton 86), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Jordan Clark 86), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Luke Berry 62), Harry Cornick (George Moncur 75), James Collins.

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Martin Cranie, Joe Morrell, Sam Nombe.

Bookings: Rea 76, Assombalonga 90.

Sending off: Morsy 66.

Referee: Andy Davies.