U's hit back to force a replay
Cambridge United came from 2-0 down to force a replay against Luton Town in a pulsating match at the R Costings Abbey Stadium.
Luton hit the front after four minutes through debutant Ryan Inniss, and after United had missed a penalty through Greg Taylor, the Hatters doubled their advantage thanks to Alex Wall’s header.
But two goals in two minutes from Tom Elliott and Ashley Chambers levelled the scores, meaning the teams will face off again in three days time. A serious-looking injury sustained by Tom Bonner in the first half will be a concern for U’s boss Richard Money.
Both sides made big changes for the game, with United bringing five fresh faces into the starting XI and the Hatters making ten changes from the team that drew 0-0 with Lincoln City last weekend.
And it was the visitors who hit the front after just four minutes, Shaun Whalley curling in a teasing free kick which debutant Inniss headed home at the back post.
United had chances to equalise in an open first half, with the pace of Nathan Arnold and Harrison Dunk troubling the Hatters defence. Arnold was denied what looked like a good claim for a penalty when he went down in the box, while a Luke Berry header flashed inches over the bar.
In the 33rd minute the U’s were dealt a blow when Tom Bonner went down with what looked like a serious leg injury. He was stretchered off, with new signing Ashley Chambers replacing him.
Money switched to an attacking 3-4-3 formation, and United were handed a golden chance to equalise in first half stoppage time when Arnold’s shot was blocked by the arm of the sliding Howells. Referee Simon Bennett pointed to the penalty spot, but Greg Taylor saw his effort strike the inside of the post and hit keeper Elliott Justham before it was put behind for a corner.
And Luton made the most of their reprieve by adding a second goal three minutes after the restart. Mickey Spillane was caught in possession by substitute Jon Shaw, whose chipped cross left Sullivan stranded and gave Wall the simple task of heading into the unguarded net.
At this point United looked down and out, though they continued to press Justham remained largely untroubled. And they grabbed a lifeline in the 75th minute, when Chambers worked the ball wide to Dunk, and his first time cross was powerfully headed home by Elliott.
With the R Costings Abbey Stadium rocking, two minutes later Chambers raced on to a long ball over the top, sidestepped a sliding defender and kept his cool to lift the ball over Justham and into the net.
Chances came and went at both ends in the closing stages, with the Luton goal leading a charmed life as Hughes’ powerful shot struck the inside of the post and flew across the goal and behind. At the other end Howells curled a free kick just wide, but the match ended level and teams will go again at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday.
May I Claim Man of the Match: Tom Elliott
Cambridge United: Sullivan, Roberts (Champion 45), Taylor, Bonner (Chambers 33), Miller, Hughes, Dunk, Spillane (Tait 69), Berry, Elliott, Arnold. Subs not used: Coulson, Norris.
Luton Town: Justham, Longden, Howells, Inniss, Charles, Whalley, Viana (Shaw 45), Ferdinand, Taiwo, Cullen, Wall (Rees 79). Subs not used: Banton, King, Chabata.
Referee: Mr S.Bennett
FULL TIME: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 2-2 LUTON TOWN
16.53: Into the three minutes added time, and United have a free kick 25 yards out. Hughes takes, and hits the post! Unbelievable, ball spins off the bottom of the upright, across goal and away.
16.45: Whalley fouled on the edge of the box and Luton have a free kick, which Howells will take, he shoots and curls just wide.
16.41: Final change for Luton, Rees replacing Wall.
16.40: Dunk with a shot tipped over by Justham. United rampant, and Wall in the book for a foul on Hughes.
16.37: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 2-2 LUTON TOWN. United level and it's a debut goal for ASHLEY CHAMBERS. Luton undone by a long ball over the top, Chambers races onto it, side steps a lunging tackle from Inniss and keeps his cool to lift the ball over Justham. All square.
16.35: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1-2 LUTON TOWN. Come-back on? Chambers works the ball wide to Dunk, and his first time cross is headed home powerfully by TOM ELLIOTT. In the aftermath of the goal Tom Champion goes in the book for an altercation with Ferdinand.
16.31: Final U's change, with Tait replacing Spillane.
16.25: Luton caught out by a ball over the top putting Chambers in on goal. But the ball won't sit up properly for him and he shoots a couple of feet over the bar.
16.24: YELLOW CARD. Howells cuts down Dunk in full flight and gets a yellow card for his troubles. The Luton skipper took one for the team there as Dunk was away down the left. Resulting free kick curled in but Elliott can't quite connect.
16.16: United with a free kick on the edge of the box as Berry is fouled. However Spillane's curling effort hits the top of the wall and as it spins up Elliott is penalised for a foul on Justham. United come again, and a good move ends in Chambers driven shot which is straight at Justham.
16.11: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 0-2 LUTON TOWN. Disaster for United as Spillane is caught in possession by the substitute Shaw, who races down the left and drifts in a cross which leaves the unmarked ALEX WALL with the simple task of heading home.
16.08: Second half underway. Both teams have made a change, Champion on for Roberts for the U's, Shaw replacing Viana for the visitors.
HALF TIME: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 0-1 LUTON TOWN. United behind at the break thanks to that early Inniss goal and that Taylor penalty miss.
15.47: PENALTY MISSED. Ooh, United have a penalty now, Arnold's shot blocked by the sliding Howells, with an arm according to the ref. Looked a bit dubious, but it's irrelevant anyway as Greg Taylor's penalty strikes the inside of the post, hits the keeper and is put behind for a corner.
15.45: All happening here. United have switched to a 3-4-3 formation, and are pressing for and equaliser as we approach the break. A couple of good moves down the flanks have come to nothing, while one Dunk cross is skied over the cross bar by Miller.
15.33: YELLOW CARD. Longden the first man in the book for bringing down Tom Elliott. But United are now more concerned about an injury to Tom Bonner, who has gone down in a heap after a challenge with Wall and will be departing on a stretcher. Ashley Chambers going to come on, so they'll be a reshuffle.
15.24: Arnold with a good scampering run into the box from the left wing, unfortunately he can't get any power in his shot and Justham saves.
15.15: Claims for a penalty there as Arnold gets in behind Inniss onto a long ball over the top, and goes down in the box. Nothing doing says the ref, much to the disbelief of the men in amber and black.
15.11: Chance for Luton as they build down their right, curling cross comes in and Charles, up from the back, powers a header over from six yards.
15.07: Better from United, Dunk with a shot well saved by Justham at the near post. Then moments later good play from Hughes and Dunk sees Arnold presented with a shooting chance, but his shot is deflected away for a corner. From the resulting flag kick Berry climbs well at the near post but his header is over the bar.
15.04: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 0-1 LUTON TOWN. Great start for the visitors. They win a free kick on the left, which is curled in by Whalley and debutant RYAN INNISS climbs at the back post to head home. Goalkeeper Sullivan came for that but couldn't get there, 0-1.
15.00: Kick off, come on the U's!
14.57: Here come the teams, United in amber and black and Luton all in white. Last season the league match between these teams ended 2-2, Tom Shaw and Nathan Blissett on target for United. The Hatters also won 2-0 here in the FA Trophy. The teams will change ends, United attacking the Newmarket Road End in the first half.
Cambridge United: Sullivan, Roberts, Taylor, Bonner, Miller, Hughes, Dunk, Spillane, Berry, Elliott, Arnold. Subs: Coulson, Champion, Tait, Chambers, Norris.
Luton Town: Justham, Longden, Howells, Inniss, Charles, Whalley, Viana, Ferdinand, Taiwo, Cullen, Wall. Subs: Shaw, Banton, King, Chabata, Rees.
14.28: TEAM NEWS. United make five changes, including a debut for new goalkeeper John Sullivan. Kevin Roberts, Tom Bonner, Michael Spillane and Liam Hughes also come into the XI, while new-boy Ashley Chambers is on the bench.
For the Hatters there are ten changes, with Jake Howells, who skippers the side, the only survivor from last weekend's 0-0 draw at Lincoln City.
14.20: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the R Costings Abbey Stadium for this afternoon's FA Trophy match between Cambridge United and Luton Town. A place in the quarter-finals of the Trophy is at stake for the two best teams in the Skrill Premier.