Heartache for Hatters as Tykes equalise late on in basement battle

Championship: Luton Town 1 Barnsley 1
Luke Berry celebrates opening the scoring for Luton this eveningLuke Berry celebrates opening the scoring for Luton this evening
Luke Berry celebrates opening the scoring for Luton this evening

Luton Town's attempts to save their Championship status were dealt their second crushing blow in the space of three days as they conceded a late equaliser to fellow strugglers Barnsley this evening.

With seven minutes to go, it looked like the Hatters were on their way to seeing out what would have been a crucial victory to boost their survival hopes going into the final four games of the campaign, leading 1-0 through Luke Berry's strike, only to concede a hotly disputed corner, with Tykes substitute Aapo Halme scrambling in a leveller.

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Luton's own replacement Harry Cornick then had an even better opportunity himself moments later, racing clean through on goal, but, as has happened so often this term, he couldn't take his chance, shooting straight at visiting keeper Jack Walton.

Although the outcome did move Town a point closer to safety, they are now very much relying on results elsewhere going their way ahead of Friday evening's trip to Huddersfield, which now takes on an absolutely must-win significance.

Boss Nathan Jones made four changes from the side that were embarrassed 5-0 by Reading on Saturday, Danny Hylton, Martin Cranie, James Bree and Berry in, with Matty Pearson, Cornick and Ryan Tunnicliffe dropping to the bench, Izzy Brown absent through injury.

The visitors went close early on, as the diminutive Conor Chaplin somehow won a header inside the area, forcing Simon Sluga to tip over the bar, while ex-Hatter Cauley Woodrow flicked the resulting corner into the side-netting.

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Sluga was called on to make a more meaningful stop moments later, impressively turning Jacob Brown's stinging drive over the bar.

Hatters started to gain a foothold though, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's hanging cross met by Hylton, his downward header pounced on by Walton.

Town made the most of their spell of pressure, Bree, who had his best game of the season, foraging forward from right back to pick out Hylton, whose pass sent Lee clear.

When his low shot hit the outside of the post, there was Berry to simply hammer into the top corner on his left foot for an opening goal of the campaign and first since the 2-1 League One win at Bristol Rovers in March 2019.

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Luton's defence then switched off as Sluga came sliding out of his goal to concede a free kick on the edge of the box, Alex Mowatt hitting the wall, while Berry looked to add to his tally at the other end, sending his own set-piece over.

Despite moving ahead, Town still lacked full convictions in their actions at times, with confidence still clearly knocked from Saturday's defeat it seemed, as the visitors came on strong, as the hosts were on the back foot for large chunks of the half.

Chaplin lashed over the bar, before Woodrow volleyed against the legs of Bradley and then Sluga reacted quickly to keep out Woodrow from close range.

It looked for all the world that Woodrow would make it 1-1 just three minutes before half time, getting up well to loop a header that appeared destined to drop in at the far post, but for the fingertips of Sluga, who did superbly to tip it against the woodwork and away.

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After the break, Jones brought on Andrew Shinnie for Lee, who immediately got involved, sending a dangerous cross just out of the reach of Town's forwards, as the hosts started to finally exert some control on proceedings.

Berry was still looking one of Luton's most potent threats, arrowing narrowly wide on 70 minutes from the edge of the box after Collins did well to tee him up.

Barnsley appeared to be running out of ideas, no longer carrying the attacking threat they had done in the first but, but boss Gerhard Struber used his bench to good effect.

Elliot Simoes, on after the hour, started to cause trouble for the visitors, his flashing drive across goal deemed by official Dean Whitestone to be tipped behind by Sluga, much to the obvious annoyance of Jones.

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When the set-piece wasn't cleared, Simoes turned it back into the danger area for Halme, who had just been sent on, to poke home with his first touch.

Barnsley should had led seconds later, Brown's effort deflected behind and from the corner, they glanced a great chance wide too.

However, Luton had a glorious chance with three minutes to go, Cornick springing the offside trip, but when he fluffed his lines, Town's chances of victory went, and they now face a nervous wait to see exactly how much that will hurt them before travelling to the Terriers on Friday.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree, Dan Potts, Sonny Bradley (C), Cameron Carter-Vickers, Martin Cranie, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Luke Berry, Elliot Lee (Andrew Shinnie 46), Danny Hylton (Harry Cornick 71) , James Collins.

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Subs not used: James Shea, Callum McManaman, George Moncur, Jacob Butterfield, Peter Kioso, Matty Pearson, Ryan Tunnicliffe.

Tykes: Jack Walton, Jordan Williams (Callum Styles 80), Mads Andersen, Jacob Brown, Cauley Woodrow (Patrick Schmidt 83), Mike Bahre (Elliot Simoes 59), Conor Chaplin (Aapo Halme 83), Kilian Ludwig, Marcel Ritzmaier, Michael Soullbauer, Alex Mowatt (C).

Subs not used: Ben Williams, Luke Thomas, Clarke Odour, Matty Wolfe, Brad Collins.

Booked: Sluga 15, Potts 42, Soullbauer 54, Andersen 63, Berry 63, Cranie 90.