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Luton Town 2 Gillingham 2 match report

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham twice came from behind to earn a point at league leaders Luton.

Danny Hylton put the home side a goal ahead on the stroke of half-time but Tom Eaves levelled shortly after the restart.

Luton got themselves back infront through Jack Stacey but Luke O’Neill’s well-struck free-kick levelled it up again.

Luke O'Neill celebrates his goal Picture: Ady Kerry
Luke O'Neill celebrates his goal Picture: Ady Kerry

The task facing the Gills was massive. Table-toppers Luton were 24 games unbeaten and the leading scorers in the division.

History wasn’t on the Gills’ side either, their last win at Kenilworth Road coming almost 50 years earlier, in December 1969. It looked like a walk in the park for the hosts on paper but the Gills ensured it wasn’t.

Reaction: Gills boss Steve Lovell felt his tea deserved all three points

The home side made a blistering start, with James Collins forcing Tomas Holy into a save with just 10 seconds played.

Luton kept the pressure on but struggled to find a way to break the deadlock, with James Justin and Luke Berry both going close.

Tom Eaves takes on Luton's Sonny Bradley Picture: Ady Kerry
Tom Eaves takes on Luton's Sonny Bradley Picture: Ady Kerry

Gillingham had a good spell where Brandon Hanlan had a number of opportunities, glancing a header wide from one of several crosses into the box from O’Neill. He failed to get a decent connection on another as he shot on the turn.

Hanlan’s best chance came with an opportunity he created himself, beating his man before failing to trouble the keeper with an angled shot. Graham Burke also dragged a shot wide but that spell came to nothing for the Gills.

Luton’s opening goal came in the 45th minute, an opportunistic effort from Hylton as he got on the end of a clearance from Callum Reilly that ended up going towards his own goal and to the feet of the home striker, who rolled the ball past Holy.

Tomas Holy reacts to conceding a goal at Luton Picture: Ady Kerry
Tomas Holy reacts to conceding a goal at Luton Picture: Ady Kerry

There was a good early chance for the Gills in the second half and Hanlan was once again on the end of it but his header from O’Neill’s cross lacked conviction.

Luton thought they had a second when Collins diverted a Hylton shot beyond Holy but the linesman’s flag was up for offside.

Moments later and the Gills were level. Reilly made amends for his earlier misshap when his cross was met by Eaves and the striker headed home the equaliser, outmuscling the defence to score his 19th of the season.

Gillingham were well in the game but went behind again on 67 minutes when Andrew Shinnie’s ball into the box picked out Stacey and his driven effort was too good for Holy at his near post.

Brandon Hanlan in action for the Gills against Luton Picture: Ady Kerry
Brandon Hanlan in action for the Gills against Luton Picture: Ady Kerry

A low shot from O’Neill almost caught the home keeper out, forcing him to stick out a leg and make the save. Eaves also tried his luck from distance but the dipping effort was comfortably taken by the home goalie.

It was all-square again with 10 minutes left when O’Neill picked out the top corner of the goal with a direct free-kick.

Luton almost got back infront with a third when lively substitute Kazenga LuaLua drove a ball across the face of goal but Fuller got a vital touch to clear.

Luke O'Neill takes on Luton left-back James Justin Picture: Ady Kerry
Luke O'Neill takes on Luton left-back James Justin Picture: Ady Kerry

The Gills might have snatched it themselves but Hanlan's run into the box failed to produce a pass to a team-mate.

Chance kept coming in stoppage-time and Collins' attempt to head in a winner for Luton came to nothing as he headed Stacey's cross wide.

Luton: Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley, Justin, Mpanzu, Berry (Potts 66mins), Shinnie, Lee (LuaLua 80mins), Hylton (Cornick 90mins), Collins. Subs not used: Isted, Baptiste, Moncur, Thorne.

Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Fuller, Ehmer, Ogilvie, Reilly, Lopes (Rees 87mins), Byrne, Burke, Hanlan, Eaves. Subs not used: Hadler, Garmston, Rees, Charles-Cook, King, List, Campbell.

Attendance: 9,963 (601 away)

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