Luton Town 3 Cardiff City 3: Luton let two-goal cushion slip as Koumas strikes twice

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The Independent Football

Mike Newell's hopes of guiding his entertaining, but infuriatingly inconsistent team into the play-offs suffered another setback in a vivid but ultimately ugly goal feast at Kenilworth Road last night.

Two goals ahead and apparently cruising towards victory after 25 minutes, Luton were left clinging on for a desperate point after Dave Jones's Cardiff City roared back to life in the second half.

Both Rowan Vine, for Luton, and Jason Koumas, for Cardiff, scored twice, but equally they ended the contest incensed by the decisions of referee Andy Woolmer, who required protection by the stewards as he left the field. In a unseemly mêlée of protests after Koumas was not awarded a penalty when he was brought down by Kevin Nicholls, Cardiff's Neil Cox was cautioned and tempers reached boiling point.

"He's cheated my players out of possibly winning three points tonight," said Jones afterwards. "He is not competent to referee at this level in my book. They should give him a holiday and send him away on a break. He bottled it." Jones's fury was understandable. Having berated his team at the interval for a limp first-half performance, they responded like Welsh dragons while Luton wilted.

Overwhelmed 5-1 at Preston last Saturday, Luton began tentatively but soon found their stride. After seeing three shots saved, Vine opened the scoring after 24 minutes when he headed in a driven cross-shot by Dean Morgan. In less than a minute, he scored his second and Luton were in cruise mode.

Then came Koumas with a 25-yard drive to enliven proceedings before Brkovic scrambled a third for Luton. Riccardo Scimeca headed Cardiff's second to set up a dramatic finale in which they twice hit the woodwork before Koumas drilled in their equaliser. In the dying seconds, he was brought down by Nicholls and the resultant furore overwhelmed all else.

Luton (4-4-2): Beresford; Davis, Barnett, Heikkinen, Edwards; Foley, Nicholls, Brkovic Morgan (Holmes, 82); Vine, Howard. Substitutes not used: Perrett, Showunmi, Stevens, Brill (gk).

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Alexander; Ardley, Purse, Cox, Barker; Cooper, Koumas, Scimeca, Ledley (Whitley, 64); Ndumbu-Nsungu (Ferretti, 81), Jerome. Substitutes not used: Weston, Boland, Margetson (gk).

Referee: K A Woolmer (Northants).