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Sunderland forced to settle for battling draw after Luton Town fightback

Josh Maja scores Sunderland's opener
Josh Maja scores Sunderland's opener
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After the delirium of last weekend, Sunderland's trip to Kenilworth Road underlined how hard they will have to work this season.

They were impressive for much a pulsating encounter that could have gone either way, and showed their quality with a superb goal.

In defence they looked far more resolute than in their nervy opening day performance, but Luton Town were equally tenacious and just about worthy of their point.

The visitors felt they should have a penalty inside ten minutes when the ball broke for George Honeyman in the box.

The midfielder looked to be pulled back just as he was ready to shoot at goal but the referee waved his pleas for a foul away.

It was a tough opening to the game for the Black Cats, who had to deal with a Luton side who looked organised and ready to pick up where they left off last season.

Clear cut chances for the hosts, however, were few and far between.

Marshaled by debutant Jack Baldwin, Sunderland defended well and it was they who came closest to scoring half an hour in, when Lynden Gooch broke across the box and fired just wide on his weaker foot.

That left foot carved the Hatters open moments from the break, a wonderful reverse pass perfectly laid into the path of Josh Maja.

The youngster showed his composure once more, taking one touch before comfortably turning the ball home.

Luton responded strongly after the break, Matty Pearson heading a golden opportunity over the bar from the corner. Sensing his side was struggling a touch, Jack Ross replaced Bali Mumba with the experience of Lee Cattermole.

Sunderland continued to find themselves under serious pressure but they almost scored a valuable second when Gooch again drove infield. His effort looked innocuous enough but Marek Stech struggled to contain it and could only fumble wide.

The Black Cats looked to have steadied their nerves but with 20 minutes to play they were pegged back when a clever corner was turned home by Pearson, setting up a grandstand finish.

It was an almost response when Bryan Oviedo advanced and crossed from the left, Chris Maguire taking one touch before rattling the crossbar.

The game flowed from end to end, Danny Hylton somehow heading wide in the box before Cattermole's header dropped just wide at the far post.

Luton pushed hard for a winner in stoppage time but it was a point that both sides will feel they earned.

Sunderland XI: McLaughlin, Matthews, Baldwin, Loovens, Oviedo; Mumba (Cattermole, 54), Honeyman, Power; Maguire, Gooch (Molyneux, 90), Maja (O'Nien, 86)

Subs: Ruiter, Hume, Embleton, Ozturk

Luton Town XI: Stech; Stacey, Pearson, Sheehan, Potts; McCormack, Mpanzu, Lee (Jervis, 89), Grant (Cornick, 66), Hylton, Collins (Rea, 86)

Subs: Justin, Bradley, Shinnie, Shea

Bookings: Matthews, 19 McCormack, 55 Grant, 59 Baldwin, 60 Loovens, 90

Attendance: 10,059 (1,047 away)