Blackburn 1 – 1 Luton – rezal404

Blackburn kept themselves in the hunt to reach the Championship play-offs as Hayden Carter’s dramatic late header earned a 1-1 draw with Luton on Bank Holiday Monday.

Tom Lockyer’s second-half header had looked to have earned the Hatters – who later hit the crossbar through captain Sonny Bradley – all three points at Ewood Park and inflicted irreparable damage on the hosts’ top-six charge.

However, Carter headed home an 86th-minute equalizer to reinvigorate what had been rapidly decreasing hope from the home fans.

Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side stay ninth in the table, level on points with sixth-placed Sunderland and seventh-placed West Brom and two points behind sixth-placed Millwall, who they face at The Den on the final day next Monday.

How Blackburn took their play-off hunt to the final day

Rotherham’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough earlier in the day had ensured Luton would finish the season as the best of the rest in third, meaning there was little value in their final two games before the play-offs. They were nothing more than exercises in maintaining momentum. It was quite the opposite of Blackburn.

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Tom Lockyer scores to dent Blackburn’s play-off hopes

Without a league win since March 15 and only four goals scored in six games in April, time was running out for Tomasson’s team to finish in the top six, so it was perhaps no surprise when they established control of the game.

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Sonny Bradley’s header rattles the crossbar against Blackburn

They racked up nine first-half shots, but Harry Pickering’s half-volley wide after 14 minutes was, arguably, the most threatening. When Ryan Hedges’ cross was cut out easily just before the break, the home fans began to make their frustration known.

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Hayden Carter’s heads in Blackburn’s equalizer

Within five minutes of the second half, Luton had the lead, leaving Blackburn with a mountain to climb. Carlton Morris held the ball up well, found a pocket of space and then clipped a cross towards the penalty spot, where Lockyer was on hand to apply the finishing touch to his second strike in seven days.

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The crossbar denies Sammie Szmodics a match winner against Luton

They almost had a second when Bradley met another ball from Morris and nodded onto the crossbar when it looked as though it might have been easier to score, but Rovers salvaged a point from the jaws of defeat with four minutes of the 90 to play when Carter headed into Sorba Thomas’ corner.

There was even time for one more chance for the hosts as their momentum built, but Sammie Szmodics was denied a winner when his thumping effort came back off the crossbar with Ethan Horvath beaten all ends up.

Player of the match—Lewis Travis

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Hayden Carter and Lewis Travis reflect on Blackburn’s draw with Luton

The managers

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Jon Dahl Tomasson says his Blackburn side needed luck to win without a goalscorer against Luton

Blackburn’s Jon Dahl Tomasson:

“The feeling is disappointment and frustration. On the other hand, if you are coming from 1-0 behind against a very good side, you are happy to get the draw, which was the least we deserved. I think we played an excellent first half, creating chances; it’s the same pattern as the last weeks and, of course, there’s a reason for that. We’re not scoring that easy, we know that, but it was brilliant to see the spirit within the squad, fighting until the end. There’s one final left and we are still in it.

“We’ve had a great season so far and it’s not over yet. Hopefully, with this effort we can win at Millwall. We will go there to win the game and you never know.”

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Rob Edwards believes a point for each team was a fair result

Luton’s Rob Edwards:

“It’s always frustrating not to see it out when you go 1-0 up. It was probably a fair result. They really needed it and you could sense that; ye could sense the apprehension from the supporters the longer the game went on. We played the whole of the first half in third gear and it’s probably the most frustrated I’ve ever been at half-time since I’ve been here.

“We know what’s coming so it’s very difficult to find that edge at the moment. We lacked it last week against Middlesbrough as well. These are really important games for us to try and keep that momentum going because you can’t just switch it on. We want to ride the wave we’re on; we’ve had a long unbeaten run and we want to keep that going. We only do that by running really hard, doing the basics well and fighting for each other.”

What’s next?

Both teams are back in action at 3pm on the final day of the regular season, Monday May 8.

Blackburn travel to The Den to face Millwall, while Luton host Hull at Kenilworth Road.