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Bournemouth lose ground in title race after drawing blank at Luton

Luton Town v AFC Bournemouth – Sky Bet Championship – Kenilworth Road
(Image credit: Zac Goodwin)

Bournemouth lost ground in the Sky Bet Championship promotion race as they were held to a goalless draw by a battling Luton side.

The Cherries went into the game having seen fellow promotion chasers Norwich beat Cardiff 2-0 to move six points clear – they were only able to cut that to five, with Town having the two best opportunities of the 90 minutes.

Jason Tindall’s side created the first chance of the game, Junior Stanislas curling a free-kick straight at James Shea from 20 yards, as Luton’s only attempt in the early stages was a Luke Berry shot charged down.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall saw his free-kick in the 20th minute punched behind by Asmir Begovic, the midfielder trying to catch the former Stoke stopper out at his near post.

Stanislas had another go from a set-piece midway through the half, slipping as he took it, his effort sailing over the top, with midfielder Philip Billing also seeing his radar malfunction as he skied an attempt from inside the box on the half hour.

Luton were giving as good as they got though, and had the best chance of the half five minutes later. Danny Hylton’s left-footed daisycutter drew an excellent stop from Begovic, who stuck out a right hand to palm away.

Captain Sonny Bradley was then denied by the keeper, although this time it was a far more comfortable stop, gathering his header from a corner.

After the break, Lewis Cook tried to break the deadlock from range, his effort not troubling Shea.

Cherries boss Tindall sent on Sam Surridge and Diego Rico as they created an opening only to see David Brooks get too much purchase on his header.

That was not the case for Dominic Solanke, however, unable to generate the power he needed to direct a hanging cross on target at the far post.

With 10 minutes to go, Dewsbury-Hall took aim for Luton, his fizzing drive always rising.

Jefferson Lerma then put his attempt out of the ground from 20 yards, as substitute Rodrigo Riquelme tried his luck as well, Shea able to collect easily enough down low.

The Spanish midfielder had another sight with his head shortly afterwards, unable to find the net from 10 yards.

Sam Nombe was then thrown on for Hatters top-scorer James Collins late on and he almost won it in the final minute, sent through by Berry’s pass.

Under pressure, he could not beat the sprawling Begovic and the chance went begging, Town screaming for a penalty that referee Dean Whitestone did not give.

With virtually the final kick, Luton could have snatched victory, Dewsbury-Hall’s low cross put just over his own bar by a visiting defender.