Report | Luton Town 2-2 Gillingham

Steve Lovell's side battle for a well deserved point in a 2-2 draw at Kenilworth Road.

Goals from Tom Eaves and Luke O’Neill helped guide Gillingham to a crucial point on the road at high flying Luton Town on Saturday at Kenilworth Road.

Luton took the lead through Danny Hylton at the end of the first half before Tom Eaves pegged the Gills level with a bullet header early in the second period. Jack Stacey restored the home side’s lead, but Gillingham were to get an a deserved equaliser as Luke O’Neill curled past James Shea ten minutes from time to ensure the game finished 2-2.

Gillingham welcomed Leo Da Silva Lopes and Graham Burke back in to the starting eleven for the trip to the high-flying Hatters, who hadn’t lost in the league since the 3-2 defeat at Barnsley back in October, a run spanning 24 games.

And the hosts nearly made a perfect start as James Collins had a dipping volley from 30 yards pushed behind by Tomas Holy. An early scare for the Gills backline who also had to deal with a couple of early corners.

Luton’s free flowing football did allow Gills opportunities to break, but a couple of O’Neill crosses from the right-hand side missed everybody before a Graham Burke effort was inadvertently blocked by Tom Eaves.

In the 20th minute, Jack Stacey cut in beyond Callum Reilly before being dragged down by the Gills number 13. The home fans were appealing for a penalty, but referee Andy Haines waved away the appeals.

The resulting free-kick was struck towards Tomas Holy’s near post but the Czech stopper produced a fine save to keep the scores level at a gusty Kenilworth Road.

Gills’ first real chance of the opening half fell to Brandon Hanlan after good work from O’Neill down the right; he produced a fine delivery and Hanlan had a free header but glanced it wide. Gills were starting to grow into the game and Burke was next to try his luck but struck wide from 20 yards.

Gills were looking threatening when they pushed forward and Hanlan again came close after getting the better of Sonny Bradley, the lively forward saw his effort saved by James Shea this time. Luton went about responding though and Andrew Shinnie came within whiskers of scoring from 30 yards.

Luton took the lead just before the half time whistle when Danny Hylton pounced quickest to a wayward clearance from Callum Reilly. Hylton calmly slotted past Holy to give the hosts the lead.

H/T: 1-0

Both sides were unchanged after the interval and it was the Gills who had the first chance, Hanlan and O’Neill again combining but the latter couldn’t properly connect inside the box.

Luton thought they had doubled their lead in the 49th minute but James Collins’ effort was ruled out for offside to cut the celebrations short.

That ruled out goal was to prove crucial as Gills pulled level in the 52nd minute when Tom Eaves climbed highest to head home a delightful cross from Callum Reilly to send the 601 Gills fans in to raptures.

After a quiet period in the game Luton retook the lead in the 66th minute when Jack Stacey received the ball in the right-hand channel and had time and space to strike beyond Tomas Holy who was unable to keep the powerful shot out.

Kenilworth Road was rocking and Luton’s tails were up but Gills were still creating chances and Luke O’Neill’s deflected effort nearly rolled inside the far post before Tom Eaves’ volley was comfortably saved by James Shea.

Luke O’Neill, who had been excellent up and down the right wing, was to get his rewards when he pulled Gillingham level in the 78th minute. After Mark Byrne was brought down roughly 25 yards out, O’Neill stepped up and sublimely curled the free-kick past James Shea.

Luton were again on the front foot and a cross in front of the six-yard box somehow escaped everyone and rolled behind.

The referee signalled there would be five minutes added on and halfway through the stoppage time James Collins headed past Tomas Holy but luckily for Gills, past the post. That was the final action as it ended all square.

F/T: 2-2

Luton Town: Shea. Stacey, Pearson, Bradley, Justin, Mpanzu, Berry (Potts 65), Shinnie, Lee (LuaLua 78), Hylton (Moncur 90), Collins

Unused subs: Isted, Moncur, Baptiste, Thorne.

Gillingham: Holy, Fuller, Ehmer, Ogilvie, O’Neill, Byrne, Lopes (Rees 86), Reilly, Burke, Hanlan, Eaves.

Unused subs: Hadler, Garmston, King, Campbell, Charles-Cook, List.

Referee: Mr Andy Haines

Attendance: 9963 (601 Gills fans)