Luton Town 1-1 Sunderland
Sunderland were made to settle for a point in their first outing of their Sky Bet League One season at Luton this afternoon.
After a tight opening 40 minutes, Josh Maja fired home his second goal in as many games to give the Lads the lead at Kenilworth Road.
But Luton struck back in the second period to earn a share of the spoils through Matty Pearson.
Sunderland went into this afternoon’s game flying high after last Saturday’s dramatic late showing against Charlton Athletic. That day saw Lynden Gooch net a 95th-minute winner, so it was no surprise to see the American retain his place in the starting XI while man of the match Chris Maguire occupied the opposite berth once again. Deadline day addition Max Power was handed his debut along with defender Jack Baldwin, replacing Luke O’Nien and Alim Ozturk who dropped to the bench.
After being punished for their slow start last weekend, Jack Ross demanded a fast start from his players as newly promoted Luton Town hosted their first Sky Bet League One match in 10 years.
With Kenilworth Road rocking in the early exchanges, the Lads did well to cope as appeals for a penalty were waved away after George Honeyman was hauled to the deck as he went to shoot. Moments later, Glenn Loovens was left with his head in his hands as he put Maguire’s arrowed corner from the right wide after getting free of his man.
Meanwhile at the other end, Loovens was faced with a headache as Danny Hylton caused constant issues with his tenacious and persistent efforts in the opening period, as he looked to crank the hostile atmosphere up another level.
Sunderland, though, coped well as Gooch began to work his magic down the flank, and it was he who fed Maja to make the breakthrough. Gooch rolled a perfectly weighted pass into Maja’s path down the inside right, and the young striker calmly did the rest as he rolled home his second goal in as many games just before the break.
The Lads returned after the break and swiftly set about doubling their advantage as Gooch saw his effort from distance touched over after Chris Maguire had seen his free-kick blocked by a resilient wall.
But just as they were building a head of steam, Pearson levelled as Sunderland failed to clear a corner from the right. Adam Matthews was unable to clear the effort off the line as Pearson’s effort smacked the post on route to the net.
The Black Cats responded well to the set-back, though, with Chris Maguire smacking the bar from close range after neat link-up down the left between Maja and Bryan Oviedo. Lee Cattermole then, on as a sub for Bali Mumba, flicked Maguire’s in-swinging free-kick wide.
It finished, level.
Luton Town: Stech, Potts, McCormack, Pearson, Stacey, Hylton, Lee (Jervis, 90), Mpanzu, Grant (Cornick, 66), Collins )Rea, 86), Sheehan.
Unused subs: Justin, Bradley, Shinnie, Shea
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Matthews, Baldwin, Loovens, Oviedo, Power, Mumba (Cattermole, 54), Honeyman, Gooch, Maguire, Maja.
Unused subs: Ruiter, Ozturk, Hume, Embleton, O’Nien, Molyneux