League Two: Luton Town 1 Plymouth Argyle 2
Luton Town’s recurring stoppage time nightmare came back to haunt them yet again as they were beaten by a last minute goal against leaders Plymouth this afternoon.
It had looked like Luton would leave with a battling point as they fought back from 1-0 down to level with 15 minutes remaining thanks to Josh McQuoid’s first goal for the club.
However, Ryan Hall was then shown a deserved but controversial red card for two bookings, the second stupidly kicking the ball away, with Argyle making their hosts pay, ex-Hatters Ryan Brunt applying the finishing touch from a matter of yards.
It was the fifth game already this season that Luton have been beaten at the death, meaning they have now frittered a precious six points away.
The result also means that with 15 games of the season gone, Hatters already trail their west country opponents by a hefty 13 points, are eight off the top three and also six away from even a play-off berth.
Hatters made three changes to the side with Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu in for his first start in the league for almost a year, his 50th appearance for the club too.
Luke Guttridge and Nathan Doyle also came in too as Craig Mackail-Smith missed out with injury, while Paddy McCourt and Olly Lee dropped to the bench.
The hosts made a bright start in the opening forays, instantly looking more comfortable having ditched the diamond formation, with McGeehan wide left and Ruddock Mpanzu on the right.
However, it was Argyle who should have netted on five minutes when Dan Potts’ defensive deficiencies were exposed again and Craig Tanner’s lofted cross was glanced wide by Gregg Wylde.
Ruddock Mpanzu then showed what he brings to the side, racing explosively on to Luke Wilkinson’s fine through ball and his fierce cross was too difficult for Marriott to convert.
Argyle were showing far more adventure than recent visitors to Kenilworth Road as Brunt’s volley was deflected behind by Scott Cuthbert.
From the short corner, Tanner drove to the angle of the area and his cross flicked off the top of Carl McHugh’s, beating Mark Tyler.
It was almost 2-0 moments later, Tanner’s long ranger rebounding off Tyler’s gloves, but Sean Long was there to clear up the danger.
Hatters once again struggled to create anything of note early on, with Ruddock Mpanzu running at the visitors defence and feeding Marriott, whose cross shot was turned behind by Luke McCormick.
Luton were then forced into their first change of the afternoon as Potts appeared to injure his hamstring in clearing, with Alex Lawless on and Long moving to left back.
Argyle were always a threat from range as Tanner once again let fly, Tyler parrying it out and Hiram Boateng stabbing waywardly over.
Guttridge tried something similar, his swerving attempt held by McCormick.
Hatters then resorted to going long to Marriott all too often, but he was well shackled, with the ball usually coming right back at the hosts.
Tyler made sure it was just 1-0 at the break too as once Graham Carey had cut inside Long and Jonathan Smith, the stopper making an excellent low block.
There was howls for a penalty moments before the break too as Ruddock Mpanzu’s cross hit a defender, but referee Ross Joyce gave nothing, as the Town midfielder limped to the changing rooms having collided with the hoardings.
Hatters made one change for the second period, as Hall replaced Long, slotting in at left back, but moments later, Luton were forced into a third and final change, as Ruddock Mpanzu, still suffering the effects of his collision, replaced by Josh McQuoid.
Town showed flashes of equalising as a deep cross into the box saw McGeehan beat McCormick’s punch, heading narrowly wide.
Finally, the hosts had something resembling a spell of concerted pressure, with Doyle’s instinctive 40-yarder clawed away by McCormick and Hall’s follow up cross inches too high for McQuoid.
After Plymouth had easily seen off the trouble, Hatters came again and did have the leveller this time.
A ball through the middle saw McGeehan’s snap shot draw an excellent save from McCormick, and McQuoid, who moments earlier had been too slow on his heels in the area, nodded into the empty net.
After restoring parity, Tyler made a superb stop from danger man Tanner whose mazy run and shot looked destined for the bottom corner.
Luton were then reduced to 10 men in a moment of controversy. Hall brought down Tanner when he looked to break away, but despite getting the yellow card out, official Joyce appeared to show it to Tanner of all people.
Moments later, Hall then kicked the ball away, after conceding a foul, and was shown a second yellow, so could really have no complaints about the overall decision.
Playing the the closing stages with 10 men, which was really nine and a half, with Marriott struggling manfully against injury for the final 20 minutes, proved too much for the hosts.
It was Tanner once more the mastermind as he dribbled into the box where the ball eventually found its way into the path of Brunt, who gave Tyler no chance, sealing a third home defeat for Luton.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Sean Long (Ryan Hall 46), Dan Potts (Alex Lawless 28), Scott Cuthbert (C), Luke Wilkinson, Jonathan Smith,Nathan Doyle, Cameron McGeehan, Luke Guttridge, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Jack Marriott.
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Mark O’Brien, Paddy McCourt, Olly Lee.
Argyle: Luke McCormick, Kelvin Mellor, Gary Sawyer, Carl McHugh, Curtis Nelson (C), Peter Hartley (Lee Cox 73), Graham Carey, Gregg Wylde (Oscar Threlkeld 84), Ryan Brunt, Hiram Boateng (Josh Simpson 58), Craig Tanner.
Subs not used: Jake Jervis, Tyler Harvey, Ben Purrington, James Bittner.
Attendance: 8,703 (745 Argyle)
Booked: Doyle 42, Tanner 82, Hall 82, Hall 85.
Sent off: Hall 85.
Referee: Ross Joyce.