Luton Town 2-2 Blackpool: Jason Cummings strikes late on to stop Seasiders ending 28-game unbeaten run

Nya Kirby celebrates scoring his first senior goal
Nya Kirby celebrates scoring his first senior goal
Share this article

An 86th-minute leveller stopped Blackpool from inflicting the first defeat of ten-man Luton Town’s impressive 28-game unbeaten run.

The Seasiders appeared to be heading for a priceless three points against the table toppers, a side that haven’t been beaten at Kenilworth Road all season.

But substitute Jason Cummings popped up four minutes from time to give the 10 men of Luton a point and deny Pool a shock win.

Luton had earlier raced into an early lead through James Collins, only for Nya Kirby to fire back with his first senior goal.

The home side’s goalscorer was then sent his marching orders in the second half, before Virtue put Blackpool’s noses in front just two minutes later.

But despite having a man advantage they weren’t able to hold on and they were left to settle for a point - a result they surely would have taken at the start of the day but a disappointing one given how the game progressed.

The Seasiders made two changes to their side from last weekend’s comeback draw against Plymouth Argyle.

Ollie Turton returned after missing the previous four games with a hamstring injury, a knock he suffered in the draw against Southend United last month.

He replaced Michael Nottingham at right back, with Nottingham dropping down to the bench.

The second change saw Nya Kirby come into the starting line-up in place of Antony Evans, the on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder making just his second start for the club.

There was no sub goalkeeper named on the bench after Myles Boney picked up a knock in Tuesday's behind-closed-doors friendly versus Liverpool.

Nathan Delfouneso started for the third game running to make his 200th appearance for the club.

Jordan Thompson was brought back onto the bench after being left out of the 18 last weekend, while Donervon Daniels was also named among the substitutes.

Nick Anderton, Callum Guy, Chris Taylor and Joe Dodoo were all left out of the squad while Mark Howard, Jimmy Ryan and Max Clayton remain long-term absentees.

Playing against the league leaders, the last thing Pool needed was to concede early on - but that’s exactly what happened.

With just six minutes on the clock, top scorer James Collins steered home to connect with Kazenga LuaLua’s pullback, after the tricky winger had turned and surged past the returning Turton down the left.

Unsurprisingly this spelt a sustained pressure from the hosts who were keen to add an immediate second, with the Seasiders unable to get out of their own half.

They came close to getting one, too, with defender Matty Pearson seeing his header cleared away from inside the six-yard box.

LuaLua continued to cause problems for the Seasiders every time he picked up the ball in and around the Blackpool box, and another of his deliveries caused panic in Pool’s backline.

It saw Luke Berry have a close-range effort blocked by a wall of Blackpool defenders before Ben Heneghan closed down Andrew Shinnie’s low shot.

Blackpool had a rare chance to attack in the 25th minute when Liam Feeney was set free down the left but he took too long over the ball, stuttered and the break eventually came to nothing.

Out of nowhere the Seasiders drew themselves level on the half-hour mark and what a goal it was, too.

Marc Bola started it all with a clever ball into Matty Virtue who beat the goalkeeper to the ball before lofting it up to Nya Kirby, who smashed home an exquisite first-time volley from the edge of the box into the bottom corner.

It was the 19-year-old’s first goal for the club since signing on loan in January.

While Pool found themselves on the back foot for the majority of the first half, they almost found themselves a goal ahead at the break.

It came four minutes before the interval as the impressive Bola surged into the box unopposed and looked set to beat the onrushing keeper to the ball, but a Luton defender recovered at the last moment to clear for a corner.

In first-half stoppage time Christoffer Mafoumbi did well to backtrack and tip over Matty Pearson’s mishit cross that looked to be heading over him and into the back of the net.

Armand Gnanduillet came close to giving Pool an unlikely lead just four minutes into the second half, but was thwarted by a smart save from James Shea.

The Luton keeper had got down well to make a one-handed save to deny Gnanduillet as he headed Liam Feeney’s teasing cross towards the bottom corner.

The striker came close with another header a couple of minutes later, as he almost capitalised on Luton’s nervy defending to nod towards the bottom corner only for Sonny Bradley clear away from his own goalline.

Space continued to open up for the Seasiders and their confidence began to grow, and on 53 minutes they were denied what appeared to be a blatant penalty.

It came from Bola down the left, who danced his way through two, three and four challenges before being hacked down - but the referee remained unmoved and allowed play to continue.

The Hatters were reduced to 10 men on the hour-mark when their goalscorer Collins committed two fouls in the space of as many minutes.

After needlessly picking up a first yellow for kicking the ball away, he then committed a late foul on Virtue, giving the referee no option but to give him his marching orders.

Two minutes later, that man Virtue picked himself up to slam the Seasiders in front after the Hatters had failed to clear their lines from a corner.

The ten man of Luton stuck to their guns and desperately went in search of an equaliser, which they nearly got when Pearson glanced a header just wide of the upright.

At the other end, the Seasiders broke in numbers but squandered a huge opportunity to put daylight between the two sides.

Virtue surged through the middle, just as he did against Bradford a couple of weeks ago, playing the ball to Feeney who in turn laid it off to Gnanduillet who was thwarted by the Luton keeper.

George Moncur came close for the visitors with 15 minutes remaining, twisting and turning on the edge of the Pool box before firing just wide of the upright.

Luton kept up the pressure and, four minutes from time, levelled things through substitute Jason Cummings.

The home side worked the ball into the box where the forward was given too much space to find the bottom corner of the Pool net.

The game was set up for a thrilling end when six minutes of stoppage time were indicated, but neither side were able to add to their tally and both sides were forced to settle for a point.

TEAMS

Luton: Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley, Justin, Mpanzu, Berry (Cornick), Shinnie, Lee (Cummings), LuaLua (Moncur), Collins

Subs not used: Isted, Baptiste, Thorne, Sheehan

Blackpool: Mafoumbi, Turton, Heneghan, Tilt, Bola, Spearing, Virtue, Kirby (Thompson), Delfouneso (Long), Feeney (Pritchard), Gnanduillet

Subs not used: Nottingham, Daniels, Shaw, Evans

Referee: Lee Collins

Attendance: 10,028 (346 Blackpool)