Head boy Taylor grabs point as Forest Green hold Hatters
Luton Town 1
Forest Green Rovers 1
OFFER a point to any forthcoming Blue Square Bet Premier visitor to Kenilworth Road and your hand will be devoured.
So Forest Green must not dwell on any sense of missed opportunity from this spiky encounter, safe in the knowledge that the majority of the 6,374-strong crowd went home more frustrated.
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A skied penalty, two harsh red cards and defensive jitters made for an enthralling afternoon, although sharing the spoils means Dave Hockaday's side now trail leaders Grimsby Town by eight points.
The teams traded early headed goals from Andre Gray and Matty Taylor before ex-Rover Alex Lawless picked up two bookings in a minute at the start of the second half.
It became ten versus ten on 67 minutes when Al Bangura was dismissed, and in the end it was a hard-earned point for the green army in one of the division's cauldrons.
Reece Styche's knee injury had ruled him out of proceedings, meaning a recall to the starting line-up for Magno Vieira and a place on the bench for Saul Williams.
But it was the other end of the pitch giving Hockaday cause for alarm in the opening stages, and a highly avoidable goal gave Luton the lead inside five minutes.
Jake Howells swung over a cross from the left which tempted Sam Russell from his line, but he was beaten to the punch by Gray and the striker's header looped into the empty net.
More indecision between Russell and Eddie Oshodi let Gray in again four minutes later, but the ball was scrambled clear before he could get his shot away.
The leveller therefore came somewhat out of the blue, Taylor soaring majestically to get the perfect contact on Yan Klukowski's free-kick and notch his 11th goal of the season.
Neither side looked watertight at the back, and headers from Steve McNulty and Jamie Turley at either end had the goalkeepers worried again.
Jon Shaw sent a volley wide after Russell had flapped at a corner, but the Rovers keeper redeemed himself in brilliant fashion with a plunging save to deny Luton's number nine on the half-hour mark.
The Hatters had a glorious chance to get their noses back in front in the 36th minute when Oshodi was penalised for a trip on Gray inside the area, but the resulting spot-kick was ballooned over by the striker.
Taylor then turned provider for Klukowski, only for the free-scoring midfielder to direct a tame header straight at goalkeeper Mark Tyler.
Lawless fell foul of referee Nick Kinseley in a crazy 54th-minute sequence, as he was rightly booked for a crude challenge on Norwood and – from the resulting free-kick – picked up a second yellow for bundling into Vieira.
The home fans were enraged, but they soon perked up when former Watford man Bangura fouled Gray and sparked a mass confrontation.
Referee Kinseley was quick to produce a straight red card yet strangely opted not to punish Gray for his reaction, although Bangura was foolish to sarcastically applaud the crowd and shove a steward on his way off.
Russell produced another fine low save to foil Shaw before Rovers fans had their first sight of January signing Dale Bennett, brought on for Oshodi in central defence.
He looked highly assured, and Forest Green undoubtedly possess the playing resources to maintain their current top-three position.
Luton Town: M Tyler; R Henry, S McNulty, J Kovacs, J Howells; S Neilson (A Mendy 60), A Lawless, J Smith, D Martin (J O'Donnell 61); J Shaw, A Gray (S Fleetwood 77). Subs not used: GTaylor, S Rendell.
Forest Green: S Russell; J Hodgkiss, J Turley, E Oshodi (D Bennett 75), C Stokes; P Green, A Bangura, Y Klukowski; M Vieira (Y Odubade 70), M Taylor, J Norwood; Subs not used: E Asafu-Adjaye, J Rowe, S Williams.
Star man: Matty Taylor: Led the frontline manfully and could not have produced a better-placed header for the leveller.
Referee: N Kinseley (Essex)