EPL

Cauley Woodrow snatches late equaliser for Luton at Crystal Palace

By Sports Desk March 09, 2024

Substitute Cauley Woodrow snatched an equaliser in the final seconds of added time as Luton drew 1-1 at Crystal Palace to hand the Hatters a crucial point in their relegation battle.

Jean-Philippe Mateta’s early opener at Selhurst Park looked to be the winner until Woodrow headed home, extending the Eagles’ Premier League-leading tally of late goals conceded in the process.

Sunny Singh Gill made history as the first British South Asian to referee a Premier League match, and was spotted signing autographs as he waited in the tunnel ahead of the second half.

The result draws Luton within three points of safety, while Palace will be ruing a huge missed opportunity to put more breathing room between themselves and the drop zone.

Singh Gill’s decision-making was tested early, when Palace protested for what they felt was a Teden Mengi handball, but the ex-prison officer – who comes from a refereeing family – waved play on.

Luton’s brightest spell of the opening period came when the Hatters won an early corner and Palace were only able to half-clear, the ball pinging around the 18-yard box where Luton came closest through a nodded effort from Ross Barkley, who needed treatment for a nose bleed after colliding with Joel Ward.

Mateta rolled an effort at Thomas Kaminski during the hosts’ first real break into Luton’s final third, not long before the Eagles took an 11th-minute lead through the Frenchman.

Mateta’s fifth league goal of the campaign followed some good work from January signing Daniel Munoz, who was able to latch on to Alfie Doughty’s loose back pass and find his team-mate just inside the six-yard box, where he opened the scoring with a backwards flick.

The Hatters had a handful of chances to reply, but it was the Eagles who applied more pressure as Ward, Jefferson Lerma and Mateta all misdirected efforts.

Singh Gill issued his first Premier League booking to Issa Kabore, who took down Lerma with a reckless challenge in the 27th minute, and showed his second yellow to Eberechi Eze for a pull on Reece Burke’s shirt.

Palace, who managed to keep the in-form Carlton Morris quiet throughout the first half, had a chance to double their lead before the break when another back pass – this time from Reece Burke – allowed Mateta to pounce and round Kaminski, but he found himself at too tight an angle and fired into the side-netting.

Eze threatened twice before the hour mark, while Luton’s best early chance after the break came via Chiedozie Ogbene, who directed a header wide of Sam Johnstone’s left post from six yards out.

Morris finally had a crack, directing a sharp volley straight at Johnstone before Daiki Hashioka sent his effort over the bar.

It was nevertheless an encouraging spell for the Hatters, who entered the afternoon having scored more goals in the final 15 minutes than every Premier League side bar Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal – while the Eagles had conceded the most in that same period.

Yet it was the Eagles who had the first big chance in the final 10 minutes of normal time through an audacious effort from Eze, who launched the ball from inside the centre circle that the scrambling Kaminski could not have stopped, but to his relief skimmed just over the crossbar.

The majority of the chances in six minutes of added time went the hosts’ way – including a crossbar-clipping effort from Odsonne Edouard – but it was Woodrow who made his count when he guided in ex-Eagle Andros Townsend’s delivery to stun Selhurst Park.

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