G. Pilkington 38 (pen)
Alfreton Town 0
George Pilkington's first goal of the season was enough to stretch the Town's unbeaten run in the Blue Square Bet Premier to 12 games.
The skipper stepped up to convert a 38th-minute penalty after Robbie Willmott had been fouled by Alfreton goalkeeper Dan Lowson - and it proved to be the match-winner as the Town held out for a ninth clean sheet in 11 games to strengthen their grip on third place in the table.
The Town begun showing three changes to the side that drew with Mansfield on Wednesday. Mark Tyler was given the nod over Kevin Pilkington in goal, whilst Craig McAllister was given his first start in the place of the injured Amari Morgan-Smith. Gary Brabin went 4-4-2 and Willmott was given a start on the right flank in place of Aaron O'Connor
The Hatters began brightly from the off with Danny Crow having a sight of goal as early as the second minute that was blocked but Alfreton soon settled, playing some nice football themselves, certainly not intent on sitting back and parking the bus.
In fact Nicky Law's side were doing well to frustrate the Town and on 18 minutes the Reds came close to taking a shock lead when fantastic skill and footwork from Nathan Arnold allowed the visiting forward into the box. But after leaving Dan Gleeson on his back side only a last-ditch block from Janos Kovacs prevent the visitors from making it 1-0.
But back come the Hatters and on 25 minutes they came mighty close to taking the lead themselves. McAllister drove a shot from the edge of the box that was too hot for Lowson to handle. Crow was first to the loose ball, quickly eyeing Grey Taylor eight yards out and it was his low side-foot effort that was heading goalwards that was cleared off the line by Greg Young. Still the danger wasn't over and Jake Howells was on hand to blast the follow-up at goal but his effort was deflected behind for a corner.
Still the Town pressed, a Howells corner headed wide by Kovacs on 34 minutes but the Town kept plugging away and, on 37 minutes they got their chance to take the lead.
Howells' superb throughball sent Willmott racing in the box down the left side. Goalkeeper Lowson was out quickly to meet the winger but only succeed in bringing the Town man to ground and referee Robinson awarded the hosts a penalty despite the visitors' protests.
With O'Connor on the bench, Pilkington took the captain's responsibility to take the spot-kick and he made no mistake with a firm effort straight down the middle for his first goal of the season and his first since a 3-1 win over Bath City in October 2010.
Now, with their tales up, the Town went in search of a quick-fire double before the break with Kovacs spraying a pass out to Taylor on the left who cut inside and forced Lowson into a necessary save on 42 minutes.
Alfreton by no means were out of the game despite trailing, and they came within a whisker of levelling a minute before the break when Arnold's well-struck volley flashed past the post with Tyler beaten.
But the Town should have gone in at the break two goals to good. Howells was again the architect, slipping a lovely ball between the Alfreton defence to send McAllister away but the frontman could only succeed in blasting a shot high and wide from eight yards when only faced with Lowson.
Brabin introduced Stuart Fleetwood at the break, bringing off Crow as the Town kicked towards the Kenilworth Road in hope of adding to their tally.
However it wasn't until the 64th minute that the Hatters forged a chance to double their lead. McAllister raced down the right wing to cross deep for Willmott alone in the penalty area. The winger caught the ball on the volley with a sweet effort that was heading in until an Alfreton defender's block spared Lowson from springing into action.
Godfrey Poku replaced Watkins as Brabin pushed Alex Lawless into a more attacking midfield role but it was the visitors that came closest next on 70 minutes when Jake Moult flashed an effort inches past the post from the edge of the box.
McAllister headed over on 83 minutes after good work from Dan Gleeson as the Town pushed for a second goal and having been pushed further forward Lawless was unlucky not to tee up Howells for a goal with five minutes later following some fancy footwork tight on the byeline.
Alfreton spurned a great chance with three minutes left to find an equaliser when Josh Law, son of manager Nicky, fluffed a free-kick from the edge of the box that hit the Town wall but following that let-off the Hatters then contrived to miss a host of chances in dying minutes with Fleetwood and McAllister twice having efforts that were either saved or fly off target.
And that, as they say, was that. Solid if unspectacular. The Town strengthen their grip on third place keeping yet another clean sheet in the process.
After four games in eight day the Hatters take a well-earned break.
See you at Kidderminster in the Trophy next Saturday.
Live from Kenilworth Road
Luton Town 1 (G. Pilkington 38 (pen))
Alfreton Town 0
FULL-TIME All over here at Kenilworth Road and the Town return to winning ways, full report, reaction and photos to follow.
90 mins +&nbsp;3 - Fleetwood in the box, flashes a low shot inches wide.
90 mins - Into the last minute, again a chance for the Hatters, Howells breaks through, squares to McAllister shot stopped by Lowson. Three minutes added here...
89 mins - Another chance for the Town, Lawless again fine footwork, finds Fleetwood, shot saved.
88 mins - Two minutes left here...
87 mins - Chance for Alfreton, Josh Law smacks a free-kick from the edge of the area into the Town wall. Big let off there.
85 mins - Five to go, another opportunity for the Hatters as Lawless shots lovely skill to get to the byeline and fizz a pass across goal. It's only until Howells meet it at the near that a Town man can get to it but he can't guide the ball on target.
84 mins - Chance for the Town again as Fleetwood beats the offside trap and tries to find McAllister with a low cross but Lowson is there to cut out the danger.
83 mins - Half a sniff for the Hatters as Gleeson does well to dig out a cross from the right that McAllister meets at the near post but heads over.
81 mins - Town almost playing with 10 here, O'Connor's taken a knock and is limping heavily and all the subs have been used.
78 mins - Over 10 minutes left for the Town to add to their tally here.
72 mins As Poku goes in the book, Aaron O'Connor
replaces Willmott in the Hatters' final change.
70 mins - Ohhh that is very close and half a yard that saves the Town as Moult, who has looked a threat today, takes aim from 25 yards with a shot that flashes just, just wide.
64 mins Second change for the Town as Godfrey Poku replaces Watkins. Lawless will now play the more attacking central midfield role.
64 mins - First real chance of the second half...McAllister speeds down the right and looks up to spot Willmott in the box but the winger's first-time volley is deflected over for a corner.
57 mins - 5,698 inside Kenilworth Road this afternoon which includes 89 shouting for Alfreton.
52 mins - Still the Town lead here although Alfreton are still pushing for a leveller.
46 mins And we're off for the second half and there's been a change for the Town. Stuart Fleetwood's on in the place of Crow. Alfreton kick-off as the Town now shoot towards the Kenilworth Road end.
HALF-TIME And that's half-time and the Town go in at the break ahead thanks to George Pilkington's penalty. More to come? Stay tuned in the second half. COYH.
45 mins - Should be 2-0, what a chance, Howells puts Craig McAllister through the but less said about the finish the better as he blasts high and wide with the keeper to beat.
45 mins - Phew, almost 1-1, as Nathan Arnold hits a sweet volley inches wide as the Town fail to cleae their lines.
42 mins - Town full of confidence now, Kovacs sweeping the ball out to Taylor who does well to turn and try his luck from 25 yards that Lowson is equal to.
38 mins &nbsp;GOAL! TOWN&nbsp;1-0 Alfreton (George Pilkington penalty). That's how you do it. After Robbie Willmott is tripped in the box by keeper Lowson up steps GEORGE PILKINGTON to slam the home the resultant penalty down the middle, hit firmly, without fuss. His first of the season and his first since October 2010.
37 mins - PENALTY TO TOWN - Willmott tripped by Lowson.
34 mins - Oh chance Howells corner from the right is headed wide by Kovacs, rising high above everyone in the box.
25 mins - Great chance for the Hatters to take the lead. McAllister does well to beat his man and drive a low shot from the edge of the box that visiting goalkeeper Dan Lowson spills. Crow is first to the loose ball and he squares to an unmarked Greg Taylor who sidefoots a shot goalwards that is cleared off the line by Greg Young. The ball remains in play and Howells follows up with a fierce drive that is also deflected behind for a corner.
18 mins - Danger for the Town as great skill and footwork from Nathan Arnold sees the Alfreton man beat Dan Gleeson and burst into the six yard box and only a block from Janos Kovacs denies the visitors an effort at Tyler.
13 mins - The Hatters aren't getting much change out of the Alfreton back four at the minute. All four of those defenders are 6ft plus.
10 mins - Neither keeper tested inside the first 10 minutes here.
7 mins - Pretty even here so far. Alfreton certainly aren't sitting back here, showing plenty of ambition and are playing some decent stuff.
4 mins - Typically then the visitors break up the other end and threaten as Nathan Arnold's fancy pass frees Jamie Mullan who gets into the box and sees a shot blocked behind for a corner.
2 mins - Talking of top the Town have begun on top with Danny Crow having a shot blocked from 25 yards.
2 mins - The Hatters are lining up 442 then with a the usual flat back four with four across the middle with Willmott on the right, Howells on the left, Lawless and Watkins in the centre and it's McAllister and Crow up top.
1 min Annnnnd we're off here as the Town kick-off shooting towards the Oak Road end in this first half.
14:55 HERE THEY COME
Out come the two sides, standby for handshakes (they're allowed here today), coin toss and photos before the off. Enjoy the updates. COYH.
14:46 AWAY SUBS
No sub keeper on the bench for today's visitors.
14:45 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS
Andrew Barringer: 4-0 Luton, Simon Pitts: 3-1 Luton, Simon Oxley: 4-0 Luton, Mark Young: 1-0 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 3-0 Luton, Lauren Archell: 2-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 3-0 Luton
14:12 THE TEAMS
Town boss Gary Brabin makes three changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Mansfield on Wednesday. Mark Tyler replaces Kevin Pilkington in goal whilst Robbie Willmott and Craig McAllister both start with Amari Morgan-Smith and Aaron O'Connor
missing out. The latter is on a strong bench that includes Stuart Fleetwood, John Paul Kissock and Godfrey Poku.
Town: Tyler; Gleeson, G. Pilkington, Kovacs, Taylor; Willmott, Watkins, Lawless, Howells; Crow, McAllister. Subs: Fleetwood, O'Connor, Kissock, Poku, K. Pilkington.
Alfreton: Lowson, Streete, Young, Brown, Moult, Arnold, Franks, Jarman, Mullan, Clay, Kempson. Subs: Law, Franklin, Wilson, Clayton, Wilson.
14:10 THREE CHANGES
Mark Tyler, Robbie Willmott and Craig McAllister start for the Town. Full team to follow.
13:50 ON THIS DAY
The Town's record on 28th January is played nine, won five, drawn two and lost&nbsp;two, scoring 22 and conceded 12.
The last time the Hatters played on this day was a 1-1 draw with Southampton at Kenilworth Road in the FA Cup fourth round. The Town went on to lose 6-0 in the replay at the Dell.
Simon Pitts tells me that the Alfreton number five, Greg Young, was the defender who played in goal for York City in the Town's 5-0 win last season following the dismissal of their goalkeeper while the Reds' number 16 Nathan Jarman was the man who was sent-off playing for Corby here last season following a clash with the Hatters' bench...
Eerie at Kenilworth Road. The fact that Hatters Way is closed today means there isn't that usual hum of traffic noise in the background. But then, at 11 minutes past one, the home team changing room fills with music as on comes the stereo. Pre-match prep underway...
13:00 HOW TIMES CHANGE
Liverpool host Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup right now on ITV. Back in 1987 the Hatters hosted Liverpool and triumphed 3-0 thanks to goals from strikers Mick Harford, Brian Stein and Mike Newell.
As we said yesterday there is always the next game.
The Town's goalless draw with Mansfield disappointed everyone. With teams in and around the promotion pack dropping points on Tuesday night, the point achieved on Wednesday evening was always going to be looked on as two points dropped.
Today is a new day, and the next fixture on the list...and it gives the Hatters the opportunity to banish their midweek frustration.
Alfreton Town make their way down the M1 to Kenilworth Road for the first time. The Reds, who strode to the Blue Square Bet North title last term have won their last two away games 3-0 and 6-0 and confidence is high.
Whether or not Nicky Law's side will park the bus, as Gary Brabin suggested some teams do when they come to this part of Bedfordshire, remains to be seen.
After today's game there&nbsp;are just 15 games left and just 45 points left to play for. Both sides need the points this afternoon for different reasons. Alfreton would take a point today, the Town most certainly would not...
All you need to do is believe.
Well, whatever happens today, and indeed throughout the season, your official website will have everything covered: every step of the way.
If you can't make the match then we'll have all the goals and incidents as it happens live with the usual news in the run-up to kick-off with team line-ups and plenty of chat as your official website has, as ever, the usual updates keeping you bang up-to-date with all the action - and in a number of ways.
There's none of those boring ball-by-ball "defensive thrown-in taken by Luton left-back" updates as we continue to and bring you an updated and detailed text commentary. This is a great way to keep in touch and has been popular to those supporters not able to get to a computer or a radio as the service is also available and is updated live on our WAP site.
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Enjoy the game.