League Two: Wycombe Wanderers 1 Luton Town 1
Hatters midfielder Jonathan Smith had a Boxing Day to remember for the right reasons as he netted a wonder strike to earn Town a point at leaders Wycombe.
This time 12 months ago, the 28-year-old saw his season ended after suffering a horrific broken leg in the 2-1 win at Barnet, while this year he produced a wonderful finish with his first goal of the season.
Hatters boss John Still had kept the same side who won 3-0 against Newport, midfielder Andy Drury making his 50th appearance for the club
The visitors made quite frankly atrocious start to the game though, as in the opening three minutes, Scott Griffiths saw yellow for a poor challenge, but with play waved on, Luton were forced to concede a corner.
From the set-piece, Paris Cowan-Hall got in front of his markers and produced a downward header that bounced up over Hatters’ defenders on the line and into the net, with a goal remarkable reminiscent of the one conceded at Burton recently.
However, Hatters were then level in quite brilliant fashion as in a breathless start, Michael Harriman’s cross was headed out to Smith, who controlled it on his chest and sent a sublime volley beyond the reaches of keeper Matt Ingram.
Former Town defender Alfie Mawson soon saw yellow for clipping Mark Cullen as he looked to race clear, while Andy Drury sent the free kick over and Luke Rooney’s name was also taken by referee Andy Woolmer.
Hatters right back Harriman, himself a former Wanderer, tried an audacious volley with his left foot from just outside the box on his return to Adams Park, but saw it fly into the stands.
The game then seemed to calm down slightly from its blood and thunder opening, although Wycombe’s Peter Murphy fluffed a great chance when unmarked, sidefooting his effort back from where it came from.
The imposing Aaron Pierre looped a header over, before irking boss John Still after a coming together with Cullen right under his nose as he appeared to push the Luton striker.
Town had a real chance for a second prior to the interval when Rooney’s dink over the top saw Drury running on to it, but he lost his footing somewhat and could only shoot straight at Ingram.
After the break, Luton made a far improved start to their efforts in the first as Rooney turned Sido Jombati inside and out as his shot was deflected behind.
Luke Wilkinson curled a header inches wide, while Luton then fashioned a wonderful chance thanks to some marvellous passing, leading to Cullen’s delightful flick releasing Scott Griffiths.
He slid at full stretch to cross for Drury, whose first time shot was excellent turned away instinctively by Ingram.
Rooney was then surprisingly withdrawn by Still for Jake Howells, while the Chairboys almost conceded a comical second as Pierre headed over the onrushing Ingram, only to see it fortunately fly narrowly wide.
Hatters kept pushing with Wilkinson showing wonderful feet for a centre half to beat his man with a drag back and delivered a cross that was headed past the post by a back-pedalling Cullen.
With 73 minutes on the closk, the Chairboys missed a wonderful chance to make it 2-1 as a slick one-touch move saw Paul Hayes left with Tyler to beat, but he somehow missed the target.
As the heavens opened and the rain teeming down, the game turned into a classic playground game of we attack, you attack although neither side could create anything meaningful, bar Ross Lafayette dragging wide.
Drury then put a free kick straight at Ingram, while Mark Tyler had to be alert to repel Mawson’s close range attempt.
Luton could have won it too, when subs Ricky Miller and Ross Lafayette broke away, but Miller opted to go alone and could only run into Pierre.
The result saw Town drop out of the top three after Burton beat Tranmere, while Shrewsbury moved to the summit as they won 2-0 at Oxford.
Hatters have a chance to regain their place on top though when they host Portsmouth on Sunday afternoon.
Chairboys: Matt Ingram, Sido Jombati, Joe Jacobson, Alfie Mawson, Aaron Pierre, Paris Cowan-Hall, Peter Murphy, Josh Scowen, Danny Rowe (Matt Bloomfield 46), Sam Wood, Paul Hayes (C).
Subs not used: Barry Richardson, Stuart Lewis, Steven Craig, Fred Onyedinma, Aaron Holloway.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Michael Harriman, Steve McNulty (C), Luke Wilkinson, Scott Griffiths, Jonathan Smith, Nathan Doyle, Andy Drury, Shaun Whalley (Ricky Miller 77), Luke Rooney, (Jake Howells 62) Mark Cullen (Ross Lafayette 69).
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Fraser Franks, Jim Stevenson, Paul Connolly.
Referee: Andy Woolmer.
Booked: Griffiths 2, Mawson 10, Rooney 12, Jacobson 64.
Attendance: 7,539 (2,566 Luton).
Hatters MOM: Andy Drury. Back to back displays of real quality from the midfielder.
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