Late own goal sees Hatters hit back twice to earn a batting point against Millwall

Championship: Luton Town 2 Millwall 2

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 5:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 7:40 pm
Elijah Adebayo sees his shot hit the net to make it 1-1 against Millwall this afternoon
Elijah Adebayo sees his shot hit the net to make it 1-1 against Millwall this afternoon

Luton showed their fighting spirit in abundance as they twice hit back from a goal down to pick up what could well become an absolutely crucial point in their play-off battle this season.

With three minutes to go, it looked like the Hatters were going to be faced with a carbon copy of their last defeat here to QPR, conceding what appeared to be a late winner.

However, Robert Snodgrass, only just on as a substitute, sent in a dangerous free kick from the right, which was diverted into his own net by Lions skipper Jake Cooper for what was on the balance of play, a deserved point for Nathan Jones' side.

The Hatters manager had made four changes from the 3-1 win at Hull prior to the international break, with Kal Naismith, Tom Lockyer, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Henri Lansbury all coming in for Peter Kioso, Fred Onyedinma, Luke Berry and Jordan Clark.

Club captain Sonny Bradley also made his return to the substitutes bench, where he was joined by Snodgrass as well.

A scrappy opening 20 minutes which saw Dan Potts require treatment more than once for a head injury, ended with Luton creating the first real opportunity when Amari'i Bell found Mpanzu inside the area, but after a few step-overs, he fired wastefully and disappointingly miles over.

Just when it looked like the hosts might be about to step it up, they fell behind on 25 minutes as a long ball was only half cleared, Tom Bradshaw producing an unerring first-time strike into the bottom corner from 20 yards to put Millwall in front.

Town tried to respond, Allan Campbell managing to somehow keep the ball in by the byline, his cross cleared to Mpanzu, who once more got it wrong, shanking wide.

Luton weren't behind for long though, just eight minutes In fact, with a terrific team goal, started by Mpanzu, found again by Lansbury's clever backheel and then moving it wide to Bell.

The in-form wing-back played an incisive get and go with Adebayo, releasing Town's top scorer who showed real class in opening up his body and superbly placing his shot beyond Bartosz Bialkowski and into the net via the inside of the post.

Millwall responded well to the equaliser, Benik Afobe's looping header having too much on it to trouble James Shea.

After the break, Luton had a glorious opportunity to move in front early on as Lansbury collided with Cooper to a ball forward which left Cornick in the clear, but faced with just Bialkowski to beat, the couldn't repeat his efforts from the Den earlier in the season when he had won that battle twice, the Lions stopper standing tall this time.

Lansbury was called on at the other end shortly afterwards to make a vital interception as Bradshaw shaped to shoot, Murray Wallace connecting from 30 yards, Shea holding on with ease.

The keeper was thankful to see Scott Malone's effort from a corner veer away from the target, while Naismith looked to add another long range effort to his back catalogue, deflecting behind for a corner.

However, with seven minutes to go, just as Town had done against QPR recently, they were breached once more, a counter-attack on the hosts' right ending with Oliver Burke sprinting away to deliver the perfect cross for Afobe to clinically volley beyond Shea.

Boss Jones reacted quickly, Snodgrass and Cameron Jerome both coming up, and it was Snodgrass who was to play a vital role in the equaliser with three minutes to go, ensuring Luton's goals from set-play statistic since Alan Sheehan joined the coaching staff received another boost.

There was still time for either side to grab a winner and both almost did, another break by Millwall ending with Malone's volley forcing Shea into a save at his near post.

Ex-Lions attacker Onyedinma then did splendidly on the right to engineer a crossing opportunity and when the ball eventually dropped to Bell, his drive took a nick on its way behind.

The three minutes of stoppage time saw Luton rather strangely seem content with keeping the ball at the back rather than knock it forward to Jerome and Adebayo, which seemed the more obvious avenue to goal.

It meant they were unable to fashion another last-gasp chance, but the result meant they stayed in fourth, and although Bournemouth's win over Bristol City now puts the Cherries virtually out of reach, Luton still have their destiny in their own hands ahead of Tuesday night's trip to bottom of the league Peterborough.

Hatters: James Shea, James Bree, Amari'i Bell, Tom Lockyer, Kal Naismith (C), Dan Potts (Robert Snodgrass 83), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Cameron Jerome 83), Henri Lansbury, Allan Campbell, Harry Cornick (Fred Onyedinma 64), Elijah Adebayo.

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Danny Hylton, Peter Kioso, Sonny Bradley.

Lions: Bartosz Bialkowski, Danny McNamara, Murray Wallace, Jake Cooper ©, Jed Wallace (Maikel Kieftenbeld 90), Tom Bradshaw (Oliver Burke 73), Scott Malone, George Saville, Benik Afobe, Billy Mitchell, Daniel Ballard.

Subs not used George Long, Sheyi Ojo, Alex Pearce, George Evans, Tyler Burey.

Referee: Graham Scott.

Attendance: 10,069 (1,032 Lions).