Hard-working Hatters douse Red Dragons to claim deserved point
Well-drilled Luton put in a great shift to hold title-chasing Wrexham to a goalless draw at the Racecourse Ground this afternoon, writes Mark Wood.
It was combative and hard-working performance from the Hatters who richly deserved their point in North Wales as the rain hammered down at the end.
Town made five changes to the team that suffered a terrible 2-1 home defeat to lowly Hyde on Tuesday night. In came Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Scott Rendell, Simon Ainge, Arnaud Mendy and Dave Martin with Steve McNulty as captain, as normal skipper Ronnie Henry, top scorer Andre Gray, defender Greg Taylor, youngster JJ O’Donnell and injured midfielder Alex Lawless dropped out of the squad entirely.
Luton looked to capitalise on some early Wrexham errors and went close on seven minutes when
Alex Wall outpaced the struggling Chris Westwood on to Rowe-Turner’s channel ball and looked to square for Rendell as Martin Riley turned behind just past is own post.
And from the resulting corner Town went close again when Martin’s near-post corner found the head of McNulty, but Johnny Hunt cleared off the line at the far post with Luton forlornly claiming it had crossed the line.
Wall’s pace was causing Westwood no end of problems, while Danny Wright forced Mark Tyler into a routine save on 17 minutes and the energetic Jonathan Smith blocked bravely from Brett Ormerod.
The Red Dragons began to pick up a head of steam as Dele Adebola raced part McNulty on 20 minutes but Tyler saved well one-on-one, while Smith cleared Adebola’s header off the line from the subsequent corner.
Nervous Wrexham were making plenty of mistakes as Town were happy to keep their shape as they looked to hit Wrexham on the break.
The home side were playing some inventive stuff around the Luton box and threatened again on 35 minutes when Adebola’s canny touch released Ormerod and Tyler saved well from a narrow angle.
And Wrexham went close again two minutes later when Riley hung in the box to head goalwards and Rowe-Turner was on hand to clear off the line.
Wall broke on to another Westwood gift with five minutes to go but was just unable to find Rendell.
However, with Wall increasingly isolated, the Hatters were inviting too much pressure on themselves, although they continued to threaten on the break.
The second half took a little while to get going before Jake Goodman did well to block Kevin Thornton’s effort 11 minutes in while at the other end Stephen Wright did similarly well to shut out Martin’s effort.
Stephen Wright flashed a header just over the bar from a free-kick just past the hour before Jay Harris’ far post cross found Danny Wright but he could only head wide.
The Hatters made a double change on 63 minutes as Solomon Taiwo made his debut in place of Rendell and Walker replaced the hard-working Wall.
Joe Clarke’s incisive run found Adebola on 66 minutes but he could only stroke tamely at Tyler as Town grew stronger in the closing stages.
Walker threatened on the chase with 13 minutes to go, while at the other end substitute Adrian Cieslewicz found fellow replacement Glen Little and his deflected curler was headed wide at the far post by Stephen Wright.
A cleverly-take free-kick saw Thornton scoop over, while good work from Jake Howells ended with him firing into Chris Maxwell’s midriff with seven minutes to go.
Adebola’s downward header had to be helped over the bar by Tyler on 85 minutes and Wrexham were denied a last-minute winner when Riley’s far post strike was ruled out for offside.
At the other end Luton almost grabbed victory themselves in the second minute of stoppage time when Walker wriggled free in the box after good work by Howells but his low shot ricocheted off the keeper’s legs as Maxwell just kept it out.
Red Dragons (4-3-3): Chris Maxwell, Stephen Wright, Martin Riley, Jay Harris, Danny Wright, Brett Ormerod (Glen Little 73), Joe Clarke (Adrian Cieslewicz 79), Johnny Hunt, Chris Westwood (C), Kevin Thornton, Dele Adebola. Substitutes not used: Andy Morrell, Rob Ogleby, Declan Walker.
Hatters (4-5-1): Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Steve McNulty (C), Scott Rendell (Solomon Taiwo 63), Jake Howells, Simon Ainge, Arnaud Mendy, Dave Martin, Jonathan Smith, Alex Wall (Dan Walker 63), Jake Goodman. Substitutes not used: Jon Shaw, Wayne Thomas, Dean Brill.
Booked: Rendell 27; Mendy 60; Ainge 82.
Referee: Ross Joyce.
Assistant Referees: Richard Woodward and James Mainwaring.
Fourth Official: Mark Ackerman.
Attendance: 3,907 (Luton 160).
Star Hatter: Arnaud Mendy. Combative performance in the midfield epitomised Luton’s efforts.