Berry keeps Luton in touch at bottom as late goal denies Forest


Luke Berry prevented Luton’s Premier League survival hopes taking a major hit as his last-minute goal rescued a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest to keep the hosts three points from safety.

The Hatters knew only victory would be enough to see them out of the bottom three by leapfrogging their visitors, but ended up happy to settle for a point after being dominated for much of the game at Kenilworth Road.

Divock Origi saw an early dink cleared off the line after beating Thomas Kaminski before Wood struck from close range with a fine volley to give Forest a deserved lead.

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Murillo did his best to emulate Maynor Figueroa’s stunning free-kick from inside his own half back in 2009, but the Nottingham Forest defender was denied by a smart save by Luton goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.

Luton thought they had equalised when Teden Mengi bundled home a corner but referee Darren England quickly spotted the ball had hit his arm as he controlled it.

Forest did not make the most of that let-off as Anthony Elanga was then also denied on the line by Mengi, before Luton – who had created nothing of note in the second half – ground out an equaliser in the dying embers.

Ross Barkley’s corner was headed back across goal by Reece Burke for Berry, who swivelled before firing home to keep Luton within touching distance of safety.

Player ratings

Luton: Kaminski (6), Burke (7), Mengi (7), Kabore (5), Ogbene (6), Mpanzu (6), Barkley (6), Doughty (6), Clark (5), Chong (5), Morris (6).

Subs: Woodrow (5), Townsend (6), Berry (n/a).

Nottm Forest: Sels (7), Williams (7), Boly (6), Murillo (7), Toffolo (6), Yates (7), Sangare (6), Origi (6), Gibbs-White (7), Elanga (6), Wood (7).

Subs: Hudson-Odoi (6), Felipe (6), Dominguez (n/a).

Player of the Match: Reece Burke

Forest remain three points above the drop for now, but their relegation rivals will be watching on eagerly to see what outcome follows from the Premier League’s investigation into their Profit and Sustainability Regulation breaches, which could be announced as soon as this week.

How Berry kept Luton believing late on

Luton had less than 72 hours to recover from the body blow of their last-minute 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth, though began positively against their relegation rivals as Barkley twice tested Matz Sels before firing wide from 20 yards.

The tension in the game was palpable as neither side dared to commit bodies forward, knowing full well how damaging a defeat could be to their Premier League hopes.

Chris Wood celebrates after giving Nottingham Forest a first-half lead at Luton
Image:
Chris Wood celebrated in front of the Luton fans after giving Nottingham Forest a first-half lead

It needed only two Forest players to almost carve out an opener as Elanga cut in off the left and switched for Origi, who lifted the ball over Kaminski’s dive only for Burke to get back onto the line and deny a certain opener.

Forest’s disappointment was short-lived as Wood gracefully hooked the visitors ahead after Neco Williams’ smart reverse ball inside found Morgan Gibbs-White, who picked out the striker inside the six-yard box to finish off.

Luton had quickly faded after a bright start but thought they had levelled three minutes before the break when Mengi connected with Barkley’s corner, but England cut short his celebrations after a well-spotted handball from the defender.

That still provided a new-found momentum for the hosts which was interrupted by the half-time whistle and never returned.

Team news

  • Luton handed Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu a first start since December, replacing Daiki Hashioka.
  • Nottm Forest made three changes, as Willy Boly and Ibrahim Sangare made their first starts of 2024 and Anthony Elanga returned in attack.

Instead, Forest should have doubled their lead as Elanga outmuscled Chiedozie Ogbene and beat Kaminski, with Mengi’s last-ditch clearance denying them from a matter of inches this time.

Luton had failed to test Sels going into the final minute of the half with Forest looking confident of seeing out victory, until Barkley’s corner was nodded down for Berry by Burke, allowing the substitute to turn on the ball and send it past the goalkeeper to bring Kenilworth Road to its feet.

Again, that rousing noise brought the best out of the hosts and though they huffed and puffed, they failed to threaten a late winner as both sides settled for a point which would have satisfied neither before the game.

What’s next?

Luton continue their Premier League relegation battle at Tottenham after the international break on Saturday March 30. Kick-off 3pm.

Nottingham Forest are at home for their next league fixture against Crystal Palace on March 30. Kick-off 3pm.

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