Scott Parker had Bobby Decordova-Reid to thank as the on-loan Cardiff forward’s double ensured Fulham left Kenilworth Road with a point having come from behind three times against relegation-threatened Luton Town.
The Londoners might have aspirations of automatic promotion, especially after their feisty win over second-placed Leeds United last weekend, but some generous defending gifted the hosts at least two goals as the Fulham back four appeared to extend the season of goodwill a little too far. It took just five minutes for a first gift to arrive. Marek Rodak played Alfie Mawson into the trouble and the lumbering centre half was robbed by James Collins, who teed up Kazenga Lua-Lua for the simplest of finishes.
Fulham fashioned a spirited riposte three minutes later. Ivan Cavaleiro tricked his way towards the byline down the right flank and whipped over a delicious cross that Decordova-Reid nodded home from close range, having been afforded the freedom of Bedfordshire by a sleepy Luton defence. The visitors then put together a serious spell of pressure but Croatian keeper Simon Sluga was equal to powerful efforts from Joe Bryan and Tom Cairney.
Just as it appeared as though Fulham were getting on top, those defensive frailties resurfaced again. Mawson failed to clear a free-kick and Collins slammed home his eighth goal of the season, although it looked suspiciously like he had used his hand to control the ball prior to blasting past a helpless Rodak. In a bid to redeem himself, Mawson went on a sortie upfield but screwed his shot well wide from long-range and Fulham were probably fortunate not be further behind at half-time, after Collins had a second goal ruled out for offside.
Luton were penned back almost from the off after the resumption, battling to hold onto their lead. Inside the first ninety seconds of the second half, Aleksandar Mitrovic, scorer of a hat-trick when these sides met at Craven Cottage earlier in the season, saw a shot blocked before Sonny Bradley bravely threw himself in the way of Josh Onomah’s attempted strike. Decordova-Reid looked Fulham’s mostly likely source of an equaliser, cutting in dangerously from the left flank, but Sluga made one fine save to turn a rising drive over and the former Bristol City forward sent another low strike fractionally wide of the far post.
The hosts’ own attacks were rather sporadic but former Fulham midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe had a glorious chance to put the game beyond his old side with seventeen minutes to go. Played in by a combination of Collins and Harry Cornick, Tunnicliffe opted to try and pull the back across goal instead of shooting from an acute angle and Cyrus Christie was able to block Collins’ attempted finish as Fulham bodies flooded back.
Fulham exploited that let off when Mitrovic, hitherto brilliantly nullified by the Luton defence, nodded home a Knockaert corner at the far post to level matters. Any hopes that the sizable away contingent held of roaring their side onto victory evaporated when Tim Ream and Bryan got themselves into a horrible mess overplaying inside their own half and substitute Cornick rolled a low finish into the unguarded net. Cornick then had a chance to make certain of the points for the Hatters after he breezed away from Ream but dragged his finish wide after latching onto Pelly Ruddock’s punt forward.
Fulham came again and got the most fortuitous of lifelines in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Knockaert sent over a teasing cross from the right, Sluga couldn’t hold substitute Aboubakar Kamara’s header and Decordova-Reid thumped home another equaliser from inside the six-yard box. That sparked euphoria amongst the travelling supporters – but the fact that Fulham couldn’t convert 65% possession into a victory over the Championship’s worst defence should trouble Parker.
LUTON TOWN (4-2-3-1): Sluga; Bolton, Bree, Pearson, Bradley; Tunnicliffe, Ruddock; McManaman (Cornick 65), Lua-Lua (Jones 75), Berry; Collins. Subs (not used): Stech, Sheehan, Shinnie, Moncur, Butterfield.
GOALS: Lua-Lua (5), Collins (28), Cornick (84).
FULHAM (4-3-3): Rodak; Christie, Bryan (Kamara 89), Mawson, Ream; Reed (Knockaert 70), Onomah, Cairney; Cavaleiro (Kebano 76), Decordova-Reid, Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Bettinelli, S. Sessegnon, O’Riley, Johansen.
GOALS: Decordova-Reid (9, 90+4), Mitrovic (78).
REFEREE: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).