Luton held to unhelpful draw by already-safe Everton


Luton’s Premier League survival hopes are hanging by a thread after being held to an unhelpful 1-1 draw with rejuvenated Everton.

The Hatters squandered their chance to climb out of the relegation zone and temporarily above Nottingham Forest, despite a spirited fightback against the already-safe Toffees, falling behind to a Dominic Calvert-Lewin spot kick before drawing level through Elijah Adebayo.

Calvert-Lewin, so reliable from the spot, converted a cool penalty after Teden Mengi had wrestled Jarrod Branthwaite to the ground from a corner in the 24th minute.

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin puts Everton in front at Luton from the penalty spot after VAR intervention

But Luton were only behind for seven minutes, restoring parity when Adebayo collected Sambi Lokonga’s raking pass on his chest, before shrugging off Ashley Young and slamming beyond Jordan Pickford.

The result, while positive, does little for Luton’s increasingly uphill battle to stay in the division – now level on 26 points with Forest having played a game more. Everton, meanwhile, can play out their remaining two fixtures in comfort, safe in the knowledge that survival is a sure thing.

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A brilliant goal Elijah Adebayo brings Luton level against Everton

Team news:

  • Rob Edwards made two changes from last week’s disappointing defeat at Wolves. Elijah Adebayo was fit enough to start, having managed the final 12 minutes of the trip to Molineux, while Fred Onyedinma was referred to Daiki Hashioka at wing-back.
  • Dominic Calvert-Lewin was restored to Everton’s starting XI having missed last week’s win over Brentford – the victory that confirmed Premier League survival.

How Luton’s survival hopes got slimmer

PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AFTER LUTON'S 1-1 HOME DRAW AGAINST EVERTON - MAY 3RD, 2024

This felt like Luton’s greatest chance. Perhaps it will be remembered as the moment survival slipped away.

In direct contrast, Everton’s hard graft over the past fortnight, earning three successive wins, meant they entered the game with pressure off. “We’ve earned the right to enjoy a bit of freedom,” Dyche said pre-match. He was right.

Since the start of April, only Man City and Arsenal have won more league points than Everton’s 14.

The tension was all Luton’s to manage, and they threw everything at the win late on, including six shots in stoppage time, but ultimately were unable to unlock a stubborn backline and land the decisive blow.

Luton were held to a 1-1 draw against Everton in the Premier League on Friday Night Football
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Andros Townsend saw an effort deflected wide late on

Up the opposite end, Calvert-Lewin’s seventh league goal of the season saw Everton hit the front midway through the first half, with VAR intervening to send referee Tim Robinson to the monitor to award a clear penalty.

Some Adebayo brilliance came next.

Having not started a game since February, Luton’s top scorer marked his return from injury in spectacular fashion, controlling Lokonga’s pass with a smart touch to bamboozle Young and dispatch a tidy finish.

The second half brought an onslaught of Luton pressure, but the visitors were committed and cohesive.

PREMIER LEAGUE SURVIVAL - MAY 3RD, 2024

Tahith Chong embarked on a series of rampaging sprints down the left while Alfie Doughty was a threat on the opposite flank. Carlton Morris’ 18-yard effort curled wide, while Luke Berry’s spectacular overhead kick in stoppage-time was deflected behind. Andros Townsend was the final player to go close.

Luton ended the game having amassed 18 efforts on goal – the disappointment for Edwards will be that only five hit the target. Relegation worries deepen as a result, but, crucially, nothing is decided yet. “We had to win the game,” the Luton boss reflected, before adding: “we’re still in this fight.”

Player ratings:

Luton: Kaminski (7), Burke (7), Mengi (5), Osho (6), Onyedinma (7), Lokonga (6), Barkley (7), Doughty (6), Chong (8), Morris (6), Adebayo (7).

Subs: Woodrow (6), Townsend (6), Berry (n/a).

Everton: Pickford (7), Young (5), Branthwaite (7), Tarkowski (7), Godfrey (6), McNeil (6), Garner (5), Gueye (6), Harrison (6), Doucoure (6), Calvert-Lewin (7).

Subs: Gomes (5), Onana (6), Coleman (6), Beto (6), Chermiti (6).

Player of the Match: Tahith Chong

Edwards: ‘Nearly moments’ cost us

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Luton manager Rob Edwards calls for clarity as they await the outcome of Nottingham Forest’s appeal against their points deduction

Luton boss Rob Edwards: “I feel disappointed. We had to win the game. We’re still in this fight right now. We gave everything to win it, the players gave everything.

“I’m proud of the performance but I’m tinged with disappointment right now because the three points were huge tonight.

“It was almost, and we’ve had a lot of those this year. It would’ve have been great to get those extra two points tonight, clearly.”

Speaking about the unknown outcome of Nottingham Forest’s points deduction appeal, and how that might effect the standings, Edwards added: “I’m not complaining, I’m not going to moan about the situation. It’s just not an ideal situation and everyone would love to know where they stand as quickly as possible.

“We have to control what we can control, and that’s our performance, how hard we work, how well we perform, and we’ll go and give absolutely everything.”

Dyche: Our work is done – but we want more

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Everton boss Sean Dyche insists there’s still lots of work to be done at the club, despite a strong finish to the Premier League season

Everton boss Sean Dyche: “I thought we were off first half and not much better in the second half but I must credit Luton for that. They’re fighting for their lives and there is that feeling that we’ve done our work but we want to go on and win more games.

“I thought we were a little bit off but the biggest thing for us is that we’ve moved forward with our resilience. You saw at the end there, people are heading it, blocking it and they’re trying to force a goal and that’s hard to deal with.

“Luton were bombarding the box towards the end, some of the blocks and the will and desire to make sure we at least got a point was pleasing.

“We lost our way second half, that can happen, there’s a big atmosphere here, but I’m always greedy for more, we want more.”

Opta: Everton’s impressive renaissance

Calvert-Lewin's penalty put Everton ahead in the first half
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Dominic Calvert-Lewin has netted in consecutive away games for the first time since August 2021

  • Since the start of April, only Man City and Arsenal (15) have won more Premier League points than Everton (14).
  • In that same time frame, only Brighton (2) and Sheffield United (1) have fewer points in the division than Luton (4).
  • Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored four goals in his last five Premier League appearances, as many as he’d netted in his previous 38 games combined.

What’s next?

Luton head to West Ham for their penultimate Premier League fixture on Saturday May 11, kick-off 3pm. They’re then at home against Fulham on the final day of the season on Sunday May 19, kick-off 4pm.

Everton play their final home match of the season against Sheffield United on May 11, kick-off 3pm, followed by a trip to title-chasing Arsenal on May 19, kick-off 4pm.

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