Checkatrade Trophy, second round: Luton Town 1 Southend United 1 (Southend win 4-2 on penalties)
Luton were knocked out of the Checkatrade Trophy this evening after losing 4-2 on penalties to Southend United.
It had looked like the Hatters would be making progress in the competition after Arthur Read gave them the lead with his first goal for the club in the 80th minute.
However, Stephen McLaughlin's drive deflected off Dan Potts with three minutes to go ensuring spotkicks, as Aaron Jarvis and Danny Hylton both saw their efforts saved by visiting keeper Mark Oxley, while Southend netted all four attempts.
Town boss Nathan Jones made 11 changes from the FA Cup win at Bury on Sunday, including a first start for Hylton since his red card against Rochdale, while fit-again Luke Berry was on the bench.
Captain Alan Sheehan was pushed forward into the holding role, Potts partnered Lloyd Jones in the centre of defence, Frankie Musonda and Jack Senior occupying the full back berths.
Southend boss Chris Powell made just four alterations and that showed in the early stages as the Shrimpers enjoyed more of the possession.
However, Town started to wrest the ascendancy back, with Sheehan's set-pieces causing trouble, Potts' header well blocked by Taylor Moore.
LuaLua had an effort deflected behind for a corner, before Grant also took aim from 25 yards, his low drive not missing by much.
United threatened sporadically, Sam Mantom's long ranger easy for Marek Stech, while another Sheehan free kick caused problems, Grant eventually dragging disappointingly wide from the edge of the box.
After the break, the visitors began strongly once more, Theo Robinson's cross cannoning off Grant and would have dropped into his own goal, but for the vital intervention of the covering Musonda.
Potts then deflected Dru Yearwood's rasping daisycutter narrowly wide of the far post, with Jones heading the resulting corner over his own bar.
Shawn McCoulsky's tame attempt was straight at Stech, but Luton then created their best chance of the game on 55 minutes, when Musonda's lovely dinked cross was put wide by Hylton under pressure from his own team-mates, Grant and Jarvis.
The Hatters went even cloer as LuaLua held up play inside the area and after finally manufacturing a sight of goal, saw his blast parried skywards by Oxley, with Hylton nodding the rebound against the bar from four yards.
Town thought they had won it with 10 minutes to go as a free kick was swung in by Sheehan and headed away to the edge of the box where Read met it first time, blasting beyond Oxley from 18 yards.
He was immediately replaced by Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu after suffering cramp, before Southend levelled on 87 with a huge slice of good fortune.
Sub McLaughlin took aim with an angled drive from 20 yards, and it took a massive deflection off the outstretched Potts to leave Stech absolutely helpless.
Luton went close again, when the visitors made a hash of a routine clearance, as Mpanzu's cross was met by LuaLua, his shot deflecting over.
From the set-piece, the Shrimpers raced up the other end, McLaughlin escaping on the left and his cross was turned wide by Isaac Hutchinson.
That then led to spotkicks, as Jones was fortunate to be allowed to take his again after running up before the whistle went and Oxley saving well.
Official Darren Drysdale let him off though, Jones netting at the second attempt, and Sheehan scored as well, but Jarvis and Hylton both failed, McCoulsky putting the Shrimpers through.
Hatters: Marek Stech, Frankie Musonda, Jack Senior (James Justin 87), Dan Potts, Lloyd Jones, Alan Sheehan (C), Jorge Grant, Arthur Read (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 82), Kazenga LuaLua, Danny Hylton, Aaron Jarvis.
Subs not used: Jack Stacey, Luke Berry, Elliot Lee, Andrew Shinnie, Harry Isted.
Shrimpers: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, John White, Taylor Moore, Michael Turner, Stephen Hendrie (Stephen McLaughlin 68), Luke Hyam (Michael Kightly 90), Sam Mantom (C), Dru Yearwood (Isaac Hutchinson 87), Theo Robinson, Shawn McCoulsky.
Subs not used: Nathan Bishop, Michael Klass, Charlie Kelman, Rob Howard.
Booked: Potts 2, Jones 34, Yearwood 65.
Referee: Darren Drysdale.
Attendance: 1,545 (121 Southend).