Luton Town 3 Middlesbrough 3 – Jonathan Woodgate denied win after late Hatters leveller

Luton Town's James Collins (left) celebrates scoring his side's equaliser against Middlesbrough. Picture: Darren Staples/PA
Luton Town's James Collins (left) celebrates scoring his side's equaliser against Middlesbrough. Picture: Darren Staples/PA
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James Collins’s late goal earned Luton Town a deserved point from a thrilling Championship clash with Middlesbrough at Kenilworth Road.

Boro hit back from 2-1 down to lead 3-2 and Britt Assombalonga had the chance to increase that advantage from the penalty spot, but he missed. And Collins made them pay five minutes from time when he swept in a loose ball to ensure a 3-3 draw for the Hatters on their return to the second tier of English football.

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate applauds the travelling fans at Kenilworth Road on Friday night. Picture: Darren Staples/PA

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate applauds the travelling fans at Kenilworth Road on Friday night. Picture: Darren Staples/PA

The visitors had the first chance of the game, with Ashley Fletcher’s drive narrowly off-target after Pelly Ruddock gave the ball away. They were ahead though with just seven minutes on the clock, Fletcher rising highest to nod home Marvin Johnson’s inch-perfect cross.

Town were level in the 17th minute when captain Sonny Bradley, who did not score at all last season, hammered a magnificent 22-yard volley beyond goalkeeper Darren Randolph and into the roof of the net.

After Paddy McNair had shot wide for Boro, Luton went 2-1 up when defender Martin Cranie head home.

Hatters goalkeeper Simon Sluga pulled off a top-drawer save to tip Johnson’s curling attempt over the bar – but he was beaten moments later in embarrassing fashion.

Shinnie gave the ball away and it was fed to Assombalonga whose tame effort went through the keeper’s grasp and into the net in the 37th minute.

Callum McManaman ought to have put Luton back in front, volleying off target at the back post from Collins’s cross, before Collins had an effort ruled out for offiside.

McNair’s cross-shot clipped the top of the bar, Lewis Wing thundered a shot high and wide of Sluga’s post.

Wing blasted Boro ahead after 69 minutes, beating Sluga with a swerving drive after some clever build-up play, but Assombalonga fluffed a great chance to put the game to bed with nine minutes to play, skying his spot-kick after Cranie fouled Hayden Coulson.

Soon after, Harry Cornick’s cross found Potts, and although his shot was blocked, Collins was on hand to level the scores.

Luton Town: Sluga, Cranie, Pearson, Bradley, Potts, Mpanzu, Shinnie (Cornick 69), Tunnicliffe, Lee (Butterfield 60), McManaman (Moncur 74), Collins. Unused substitues: Galloway, Berry, Jones, Shea.

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Howson, Ayala, Shotton, Coulson, Wing, Clayton, McNair (Saville 86), Johnson (Browne 70), Assombalonga, Fletcher. Unused substitues: Tavernier, Gestede, Wood-Gordon, Bola, Pears.

Referee: Oliver Langford (W Midlands).