A sensational strike from Matthew Spring secured a well-deserved replay for Second Division Luton Town after a pulsating FA Cup third round tie at Craven Cottage this afternoon.

The Hatters had stunned their First Division hosts by taking the lead through Liam George as early as the sixth minute but Paul Bracewell’s side had eeked out an advantage courtesy of goals from Geoff Horsfield and Sean Davis. It looked as if the Whites were heading for the fourth round but Spring had other ideas, surging through the middle of the park and firing an unstoppable effort past Maik Taylor from fully 25 yards out.

A replay at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday week was the least Luton deserved for their character and commendable quality. George was in the right place at the right time to punish the Fulham goalkeeper for failing to hold Matt Taylor’s drive after excellent approach play from the dangerous Stuart Douglas. In a wide open contest, the hosts were level within five minutes. A cross from Steve Hayward eluded Nathan Abbey allowing the unmarked Horsfield to head home from close range.

Barry Hayles was denied by a brilliant save from Abbey before turning provider as he raced onto a perceptive pass from Lee Clark and producing the perfect cutback for Davis to put the Whites in front on fourteen minutes. The Cottagers had plenty more chances, especially in the first half, but Luton squandered several opportunities of their own until Spring came alive to peg back the big spenders.

FULHAM (5-3-2): Maik Taylor; Finnan, Brevett, Melville, Symons, Coleman; Davis (W. Collins 80), Hayward (Trollope 80), Clark; Horsfield, Hayles. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Morgan, Peschisolido.

They outplayed Fulham at Craven Cottage last season and they almost did it again yesterday.

BOOKED: Horsfield.

GOALS: Horsfield (11), Davis (14).

LUTON TOWN (4-3-3): Abbey; Sodje, Watts, Johnson, Fraser; Locke, Spring, Matt Taylor, Douglas; Doherty, George. Subs (not used): Tate, Scarlett, Boyce, Moses, Ayres.

BOOKED: Fraser.

GOALS: George (6), Spring (82).

REFEREE: Graham Frankland (Cleveland)