CHERRIES fell five points behind Championship leaders Norwich City after being held to a goalless stalemate by Luton Town.

Chances were few and far between throughout the contest at Kenilworth Road with Asmir Begovic brilliantly denying Danny Hylton, while Junior Stanislas was often the most lively threat for Cherries.

The 0-0 bore draw did at least mark an impressive milestone for Cherries of five consecutive clean sheets – the first time the club have achieved that feat since 1995.

Cherries head into Christmas sitting sit second in the Championship table.

Jason Tindall named an unchanged XI for the third consecutive match, but there were two alterations on the bench from Tuesday’s win over Wycombe with Jordan Zemura and Ajani Burchall selected in place of Nnamdi Ofoborh and Joshua King.

Former Cherries youngster Harry Cornick was included among the substitutes for Luton.

The visitors got off to a lively start, working the ball well around the box and earned an early free-kick, with Stanislas testing goalkeeper James Shea.

Philip Billing also curled a shot just wide before Luton grew into the contest with Lewis Cook producing a vital back-post intervention to snuff out a Hatters break.

Begovic was then called into action for the first time, swatting away a Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall free-kick, while at the other end Jack Simpson glanced wide a Stanislas corner.

Stanislas took aim from another free-kick before the half-hour mark, but slipped as he went to strike and the ball cleared the crossbar.

Billing also lashed over after a loose ball fell to him in the box, before Luton looked like they may be about to take the lead when Hylton curled towards the bottom corner, only for a sprawling Begovic to expertly tip the effort away.

Cherries ended the first half strongly but Luton got bodies in the way to block shots from both Stanislas and Lewis Cook as the two sides went in at the break goalless.

Both managers resisted the temptation to change their sides at the break and the game followed a similar pattern in the early second-half skirmishes, with a wayward Lewis Cook strike the closest either team came.

With 10 minutes of the second half gone, Tindall made a double switch with Sam Surridge and Diego Rico brought on in place of Stanislas and Billing.

Cherries got back on the front foot, but could not work Shea with Brooks heading over a Lloyd Kelly cross.

Tindall turned to his bench again with 20 minutes to play, introducing Rodrigo Riquelme to replace a tiring Brooks, while Luton brought Cornick into the game.

Cherries looked outnumbered at the back for the first time in the half soon after, but were thankful to skipper Steve Cook for a vital sliding block to thwart a James Collins shot.

Tindall’s men were struggling to work any opening themselves, but Luton did try their luck through Leicester loanee Dewsbury-Hall, who fired a rasping effort just over the bar from outside the box.

Lerma let fly at the other end, but blazed his strike well off target and out of the ground.

Shea was worked moments later however through substitute Riquelme, with his low effort gathered by the former Arsenal stopper.

It was Luton who almost snatched all three points at the death. 
Just moments after coming on as a substitute, Sam Nombe broke through on goal, but an onrushing Begovic denied him.

The hosts got in again in the last minute of stoppage time when Dewsbury-Hall’s low cross was turned over his own crossbar by Simpson as the spoils were shared.

Cherries: Begovic; S Cook, Simpson, Kelly; Smith, Lerma, L Cook, Billing (Rico, 57), Stanislas (Surridge, 56); Brooks (Riquelme, 69); Solanke.

Unused subs: Zemura, Kilkenny, Gosling, Burchall, Anthony, Travers (g/k).

Booked: Lerma.

Luton: Shea; Lockyer, Bradley, Potts (Pearson, 90+1); Cranie, Mpanzu, Dewsbury-Hall, Norrington-Davies; Berry; Collins (Nombe, 89), Hylton (Cornick, 71).

Unused subs: Tunnicliffe, Moncur, Clark, Galloway, Morrell, Sluga (g/k).

Booked: Dewsbury-Hall.

Referee: Dean Whitestone.