Joe Jacobson was left to rue a missed penalty as Luton Town came away from Adams Park with a share of the spoils, although the visitors could have won it late on. The full-back’s second penalty of the game was delayed by some questionable antics from referee Darren England, which probably played a major part in Jacobson’s penalty being comfortable for ‘keeper James Shea. Wycombe have now gone 14 games without a win in home games against the Hatters, but Gareth Ainsworth will have been relieved that there wasn’t a repeat of last season and a winner for Luton in a pulsating final ten minutes.
Ainsworth opted for just the one change from the last league game, a 2-1 win at Bradford, which was Adebayo Akinfenwa replacing Michael Harriman. A somewhat controversial decision as Wanderers have been playing better with the Beast as an impact sub and he’s missed a clutch of free headers when he has played, which you feel should be going in. New signing Fred Onyedinma had a place on the bench, while other recent additions Charlie Fox and Alex Samuel failed to make the matchday squad despite being fit to play, quite a rarity at Adams Park in the last few years. Yves Ma-Kalambay was back on the bench after being injured for Tuesday’s League Cup tie, and there was still no place for Darius Charles or Nathan Tyson. Town made two alterations from their 3-2 defeat of Shrewsbury, as James Justin replaced Jorge Grant despite the former Notts County man scoring last weekend and James Collins came in for Danny Hylton. James Shea kept his place in goal despite his error leading to Lee Angol’s goal last weekend.
Wycombe had all the early chances at Adams Park, and Anthony Stewart nearly scored his second goal in five days but could only find the side netting after a long free-kick fell to him. Randell Williams’ flicked header then went wide, and Dominic Gape was forced to clear off the line when Sonny Bradley’s header looked destined for the top corner. However, the Chairboys went straight up the other end when a long ball from Dom Gape was taken down by Matt Bloomfield who was brought down by Bradley inside the area. The ex-Plymouth centre-back perhaps lucky to get away with nothing after already being booked. Joe Jacobson dispatched the penalty with ease despite Shea going the right way. A familiar feeling for Wanderers after being in this situation in both encounters with the Hatters last season. One of those games certainly ended better than the other. Wycombe kept Luton out well for most of the remainder of the first-half, and had a couple of chances before the whistle when Randell Williams’s low shot was kept out by Shea and Craig Mackail-Smith was crowded out in the penalty area when poised to make it two.
HALF-TIME: Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 Luton Town
The first action of the second period came when Matt Bloomfield had to go off with a head injury, and was replaced by Curtis Thompson even though Sam Saunders was on the bench. You can only think Ainsworth thought he already had a creative spark in the centre of the park in the shape of Bryn Morris and needed a more tenacious, tough tackling player to replace Bloomfield. Jacobson and Randell Williams came close as Wycombe continued where they left off in the first-half, and they had a golden chance to make this count when Glen Rea inexplicably handballed from a corner at the near post. After a long delay, Jacobson went to the keeper’s left again but this time Shea kept it out. From the resulting throw in, a cross from Bryn Morris was headed onto the top of the bar by Akinfenwa. Luton then had a goal disallowed after a handball from Pelly Ruddock. The equaliser arrived soon after when Elliot Lee’s tame cross was fumbled by Ryan Allsop straight onto the head of James Pearson who couldn’t miss. A similar goal to the scrappy ones last season that saw the Hatters come away from Buckinghamshire with three points, but this time Wycombe came back fighting.
Akinfenwa again came close with a volley from 20 yards and then Dom Gape struck well over from a similar range. The last ten minutes were dominated by Luton and Allsop made up for his mistake leading to the goal with three incredible saves. First a low drive from Lee was tipped past the post from the ‘keeper, then a four on one which could have been played better was kept out by Allsop after a poor effort from Harry Cornick. Anthony Stewart’s curler from just inside the box was comfortable for Shea, and then it looked like Luton had won it in the dying seconds but Allsop again tipped away a low drive, this time from Ruddock, which hit the inside of the post and fell straight back into his hands.
FULL-TIME: Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Luton Town
Both teams will probably take a point after an end-to-end encounter at Adams Park, but equally they will both feel they could have won. If Wycombe let a different player take the second penalty or the referee didn’t intervene until afterwards, it could have been a comfortable victory for Wanderers and they could have been sitting just outside the play-offs right now. As it is, they are 16th going into a Checkatrade Trophy game at Northampton on Tuesday then a League One trip to Charlton next weekend.