Hayden Carter nets late equaliser to keep Blackburn’s faint play-off hopes alive
Hayden Carter’s late header clinched a vital point as Blackburn kept their narrow play-off hopes alive with a 1-1 Sky Bet Championship draw against Luton.
Blackburn’s promotion push seemed all-but over after the Hatters – whose third place was secured after Middlesbrough’s defeat at Rotherham earlier on Monday – took the lead early in the second half through Tom Lockyer’s low header.
This was after Rovers missed excellent chances through Harry Pickering and Tyrhys Dolan.
But Carter popped up in the 86th minute with his first goal of the season to equalise and it would have been even better had Sammie Szmodics’ volley in injury time found the net instead of rattling the woodwork.
Rovers remain ninth – two points from sixth – and although their fate is not in their own hands, a win over top-six rivals Millwall next week could yet be enough to get them back in those coveted berths.
Luton showed all their resilience and stretched their unbeaten run to 13.
The hosts started positively but were almost undone early on after Jordan Clark profited from a loose pass to make his way into the box only to see his low shot gathered by Aynsley Pears at the second attempt.
Blackburn should have scored in the 14th minute when a flowing move saw a Lewis Travis shot blocked invitingly into the path of Pickering 12 yards out, but he side-footed the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
Luton almost profited from more sloppy play in the 25th minute when a Dolan slip presented Carlton Morris with a chance but his fierce effort deflected wide and his snapshot moments later failed to find the target.
The Hatters had to hang on though as Ethan Howarth made a sharp stop to deny Joe Rankin-Costello before Dolan passed up a superb 37th-minute chance, when he charged down the right only to fire narrowly wide of the far post.
The visitors started the second half strongly and Luke Berry’s close-range shot was brilliantly blocked by Pickering.
The reprieve was short lived as Luton hit the front in the 50th minute when Morris sent in a superb cross that Lockyer stooped to head beyond Pears.
Elijah Adebayo stung the palms of Pears minutes later as the game became stretched due to the desperation of Blackburn, who saw another chance go begging when Rankin-Costello’s volley deflected wide.
Luton almost landed a killer second goal with 17 minutes remaining when Morris headed a free-kick to Bradley, whose header cannoned off the crossbar.
Just as it looked like Blackburn’s season was petering out, Carter breathed new life into their hopes four minutes from time with a towering header to convert Sorba Thomas’ corner.
Szmodics almost won it with a spectacular volley that crashed off the underside of the crossbar but Rovers head into the final day of the season with it all to play for.