Luke Guttridge’s 97th-minute equaliser salvaged a barely deserved point for Luton as they grabbed a 1-1 home draw against Macclesfield Town at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
The Silkmen had been without a point all season but dominated long periods of this game and, although Andre Gray had crashed against the post just before half time the impressive Chris Holroyd deservedly gave the visitors the lead on 63 minutes.
Macclesfield bossed the second half, missing numerous chances before Guttridge snuck in at the death to earn the Hatters a point with his second goal in two games.
Town made three changes from the side that beat Salisbury City at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night. Alex Lacey came in for the injured Anthony Charles at centre-half, fit-again skipper Ronnie Henry started at right-back in place of Jonathan Smith who dropped to the bench and on-fire striker Gray came in up front with Mark Cullen named among the substitutes.
Macclesfield named former Town midfielder John Paul Kissock in their team, but it was the hosts who threatened first with Solomon Taiwo flashing a 30-yard free-kick over the bar on five minutes.
Shaun Whalley then skipped to the byline and teased his cross to the back post but David Martin was unable to direct his header goalwards.
The half continued in cagey fashion with both teams showing caution in attack as Danny Whitaker fired well wide with Macclesfield’s first effort.
A mistake almost handed the visitors the lead on 18 minutes when Lacey’s footing went from under him but Holroyd’s curler was tipped round the post by Mark Tyler.
Town were struggling to get into the game and the Silkmen almost took the lead on 22 minutes when Andy Halls’ cross-shot cannoned off the join of Mark Tyler’s near post and Henry did well to block Danny Whitaker’s volleyed follow-up.
The linesman’s flag saved Luton when Holroyd looked in and Scott Boden side-footed volley was straight at Tyler from Peter Winn’s cross as the Silkmen continued to dominate.
Struggling to get a foothold in the game Gray looked to be impeded on the edge of the box but nothing was given, while Guttridge was the first man in the book for a cynical foul on 34 minutes, befire Kissock dragged wide.
Guttridge almost atoned six minutes before the break as his header from Whalley’s corner was clawed round the post by the keeper and Lacey then headed Martin’s delivery wide.
Town finished the half far better and should have snatched the lead on 41 minutes when Gray scorched past Steve Williams and crashed his shot against the inside of the far post and out.
The home side continued to threaten, keeper Rhys Taylor some how scrambling Shaw’s improvised effort round the post from Henry’s cross and Lacey unable to force home from close range from McNulty’s knockdown from Martin’s corner.
Macclesfield started the second half like the clappers with Boden just unable to connect with Winn’s driven cross and Kissock forcing a good low stop from Tyler with Boden’s follow-up straight at the keeper.
At the other end Whalley jinked his way into the box and was bumped over in the box by Danny Andrew, but nothing was given.
The unmarked Williams looped a header wide on 52 minutes and moments later Holroyd should have scored when he skipped past the struggling Scott Griffiths but his tame effort was too close to Tyler.
With Luton very much on the back foot Winn saw an effort deflect wide as Jake Howells replaced the largely ineffective Martin.
A forceful challenge by Taiwo saw the ball cannon into Gray’s path but James Bolton made a fine saving block.
From a corner Lacey’s header was repelled and Gray lashed miles over, while Scott Kay found space at the other end and saw his shot blocked as Boden fired into the side netting.
And Macclesfield deservedly took the lead on 63 minutes when Kissock created space on the right and squared for Holroyd to sweep home into the bottom left-hand corner.
Disjointed Luton replaced the poor Griffiths with Cullen as Boden fired another shot well wide before the hosts finally threatened when Shaw released Whalley, but the winger’s blast was turned behind.
Holroyd should have doubled the Silkmen’s lead on 69 minutes when he got in behind but lobbed over with just Tyler to beat, while at the other end a deep cross ran to the unmarked Gray and he volleyed into the ground and back across goal, but Andrew was on hand to clear off the line.
A weak Williams header was easy for Tyler and, with Luton finally leaving a man up while defending a corner, Gray terrorised the Macclesfield defence but was eventually crowded out.
Luton should have levelled on 74 minutes when Howells’ deflected cross found Shaw at the back post and the ball fell to Guttridge, but his header was far too easy for the keeper.
Telepathic play between Kissock and Holroyd twice saw the goalscorer go close, before Town made their last sub as Smith replaced Taiwo.
Whalley had a chance to level with five minutes to go when Guttridge’s low cross ran to him and deep into stoppage time Cullen almost crept on to Shaw’s flick.
Four minutes of injury time were signalled and in the seventh added minute Town snatched a scarcely believable equaliser when Shaw’s flick-on enabled Gray to muscle his man out of the way and the ball ran on for Guttridge to stroke past the exposed Taylor and salvage an undeserved point.
Hatters (4-4-2): Mark Tyler, Steve McNulty, Solomon Taiwo (Jonathan Smith 84), Jon Shaw, Scott Griffiths (Mark Cullen 67), David Martin (Jake Howells 57), Luke Guttridge, Shaun Whalley, Ronnie Henry (C), Andre Gray, Alex Lacey. Substitutes not used: Andy Parry, Elliot Justham.
Silkmen (4-4-2): Rhys Taylor, Danny Andrew, James Bolton, Chris Holroyd (Paul Lewis 90+4), John Paul Kissock, Peter Winn, Steve Williams, Scott Boden (Connor Jennings 75), Danny Whitaker (C), Scott Kay, Andy Halls. Substitutes not used: Jack Mackreth, Arthur Gnahoua, Danny Rowe.
Booked: Guttridge 34; Griffiths 64.
Referee: N Kinseley.
Assistant Referee: I Smedley and M Hutchinson.
Fourth Official: L Forrester.
Attendance: 6,216 (80 Macclesfield).
Star Hatter: Mark Tyler. Sensible goalkeeping performance kept Luton in the game right until the death.