Luton boss Rob Edwards was left hugely frustrated by the refereeing decision that denied his side victory in their 1-1 draw at Sunderland.
The Hatters were closing in on the three points that would have lifted them to within four points of the automatic promotion positions when Amad Diallo went down under the slightest of contact from Amari Bell in the final five minutes at the Stadium of Light.
Referee Scott Oldham initially looked like waving play on, but after consulting with his assistant, he pointed to the spot, enabling Amad to fire home an equaliser that dented Luton’s hopes of forcing their way into the top two.
Edwards said: “It’s very frustrating.
“Sunderland are a very good team, and I’m not saying they didn’t deserve anything from the game, but we were 1-0 up and the equaliser was from a wrong decision.
“It was. I’ve been in and spoken to the officials and they’ve explained their decision-making and the reasons behind it. They don’t have the benefit of replays or VAR to get those decisions right, but these are big games and that was a huge moment.
“It changed the dynamics of the game completely because it got 30,000 fans on their feet and going nuts for their team, and changed the belief within the players as well.
“They put about 20 forwards on who are all good players, and it seemed like the Red Arrows coming at us then. We had to dig in. We went from getting three points if the decision had been right to a position where it could easily have been none because we were hanging on.”
Luton opened the scoring at the start of the second half when Alfie Doughty fired in a long-range strike that passed through a host of bodies before beating an unsighted Anthony Patterson.
They led for almost all of the second half, although Sunderland also had their chances with Dan Neil striking the post and Luke O’Nien forcing Ethan Horvath into a smart second-half save.
Sunderland had finished on the wrong end of a controversial refereeing decision on Wednesday evening when Sheffield United’s winner appeared to be offside, and manager Tony Mowbray felt his side more than merited a point from their latest outing.
Mowbray said: “I think we were unfortunate to be behind. I didn’t think either team looked like they were going to score at any moment, and we needed more energy on the pitch but we got there in the end.
“Whether it was a penalty or it wasn’t a penalty, I don’t really go in there and watch stuff. My opinion is that I don’t think we deserved to lose the game, and we didn’t, so we’ll take a point against the team, bar Burnley, that have accrued the most points away from home, and move on.
“I just feel the team we had is what we are at the moment. We are missing certain ingredients that would make us a really good team. But we have to get on with it.
“I don’t want to keep moaning about who’s not available. We’ve got the team we’ve got, so let’s keep going, trying to find a way and be competitive.”
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