Luton 1-1 Everton: Relegation-threatened Hatters held by Toffees in sharing of spoils

Luton’s survival hopes were damaged as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton at Kenilworth Road on Friday night.

First-half goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Elijah Adebayo saw the game end level, leaving the Hatters sat behind 17th-place Nottingham Forest on goal difference.

As it happened

Heading into the match, a sixth win of the Premier League season for Luton Town would have taken them out of the relegation zone, something Everton had already guaranteed for themselves come the end of the season.

For the home side, the occasion felt like a must-win to maintain their hopes of survival, and it was Rob Edwards’ men in orange who had the better of the opening exchanges.

Just five minutes into the game, penalty shouts arose inside the Everton box following a collision between Jordan Pickford and Tahith Chong, but replays showed the ‘keeper did well to avoid illegal contact with the Luton man.

At the other end of the pitch, the visiting fans called for a penalty of their own when Dwight McNeil was seemingly brought down in the box by Teden Mengi – this too was overturned by VAR with ‘minimal contact’ being made by the defender.

Thomas Kaminski was tested as the game approached the 20-minute mark by his own defender; Mengi’s attempted clearance nearly found its way into the Luton net, but the Belgian international was quick to react.

Embed from Getty Images

A nerve-wracking series of events for Mengi culminated in a penalty being awarded at the third time of asking. The 22-year-old gave the officials no choice but to award a spot-kick after pulling Jarrad Branthwaite to the ground.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin stepped up for the visitors and made no mistake from six yards, netting his fourth goal in five Premier League appearances.

It didn’t take long for Luton to respond. A wonderful pass from Arsenal loanee Albert Sambi Lokonga was met equally well by the chest of Elijah Adebayo before the striker smashed the ball across the goal and into the bottom-left corner.

The goal saw him become the second Hatters player to reach double figures this season alongside Carlton Morris – this is the first time two Luton players have reached this milestone in a single top-flight season since Mike Newell and Brian Stein in the 1986/87 campaign.

Embed from Getty Images

It was a promising first-half performance from a Luton team desperately craving a result and, having beaten the Toffees twice already this season, Kenilworth Road was full of belief heading into the second 45 minutes.

Momentum swung in favour of both sides after the break, but it was an inspired Luton who got a hold of the match and looked the most likely of the two to find an eventual winner as the clock ticked down in Bedfordshire.

A wild, deflected effort from Everton’s Jack Harrison in the 68th minute gave Kaminski his first test of the second half, but a brilliant reach to his top-right corner kept the scoreline level.

The Toffees got on the attack once again, and a nod across the box from McNeil met goalscorer Calvert-Lewin, but the Englishman’s header was equalled by Luton’s keeper once again.

Rod Edwards’ side threatened throughout the six minutes of additional time and came so close to the most dramatic of winners; an ambitious overhead kick from Luke Berry was deflected out of play.

Embed from Getty Images

A final roll of the dice followed as Andros Townsend struck the ball towards Pickford’s net in the dying seconds of the match, but Branthwaite’s outstretched leg saw the ball roll past the post as the referee blew for full-time.

The point leaves Luton relying on Nottingham Forest to falter in their three remaining matches; all Hatters eyes will be on their upcoming clash with Sheffield United this weekend.

Luton’s next match is away to West Ham, with the fixture set to take place on 11th May at 15:00 GMT. As for Everton, they host Sheffield United, with kick-off scheduled for the same time.

The lineups

LUT: Kaminski; Burke, Mengi, Osho; Onyedinma, Lokonga, Barkley, Doughty; Chong, Morris; Adebayo

EVE: Pickford; Godfrey, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Young; Harrison, Gueye, Garner, McNeil; Doucouré; Calvert-Lewin