The new 2019 / 2020 season got off to a magnificent start on Friday evening when Luton Town and Middlesbrough shared the spoils in a six-goal thriller in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
After back-to-back promotion campaigns the Hatters support were keen to see how their revamped side would cope in the Championship.
Graeme Jones included five of his new signings and the game kicked into life almost immediately when, with just seven minutes gone, Middlesbrough took the lead when Ashley Fletcher headed a deft cross, from Marvin Johnson, past Simon Sluga.
Thankfully, the Hatters were able to maintain their composure and didn’t crumble. In fact, they took the game to their opponents and when a corner was only half-cleared Sonny Bradley was on hand to fire home a thunderous shot from all of 25-yards, beating Darren Randolph in the Middlesbrough goal.
Kenilworth Road, by now, was rocking and matters got even better for the home support when, from another Hatters corner, Martin Cranie was on-hand to score with a header.
Leading 2-1, and with half-time approaching, chants of
“We are top of the league”
reverberated around Kenilworth Road, but before half-time was upon us fate had a cruel blow to deal Luton.
A low shot from Britt Assombalonga should have been kept out by Sluga but it somehow squirmed underneath the keepers’ outstretched hand and rolled over the line.
The second –half saw the Hatters enjoy the better share of possession in the opening exchanges, claims for a penalty, when Dan Potts was fouled, were turned down and Jones, deciding to take a different approach, opted to make a substitution, bringing on Jacob Butterfield, to switch to a diamond midfield instead of a midfield three.
The switch seemed to benefit Middlesbrough more than it did Luton and our visitors were to take the lead when Lewis Wing smashed the ball home from outside the box.
Middlesbrough were clearly on top now and could have extended their lead when Cranie was adjudged to have committed a foul just inside the area. Assombalonga took responsibility for the spot-kick but saw his effort clear the bar.
Buoyed by the miss, from the penalty spot, Luton started to press forward and were rewarded when James Collins drilled in a low shot from inside the area to make it 3-3.
But, with stoppage time being played, the Hatters could have taken all three points but Randolph produced a top-notch save to keep out a Collins header from close-range.