Centre-half's header enough to beat League 2 leaders
Alex Lacey’s first half header was enough for the Town development squad to beat League 2 Gillingham at Ely Way.
The defender rose highest in the penalty to box to nod home a left-wing corner on 26 minutes as a strong Hatters side saw off the Gills.
The Town, watched by boss Paul Buckle, could have the lead inside the first 30 seconds when Danny Spiller came close to sliding home a Dan Walker cross six yards out.
Walker was giving the Gills no end of problems with his pace, and he almost had the Town ahead on 12 minutes when latching onto a pass from Jake Woolley to send a shot inches past the post from a narrow angle.
Six minutes later the Town had Dean Brill to thank for an excellent block at point-blank range after a visiting player had seized on a loose ball in the six yard box following a left-wing corner.
But it was the Hatters that were bossing possession and enjoying the better of the chances with Jake Robinson and Woolley both going close in their bid to break the deadlock in the Autumn mist.
A minute later though, Spiller, who had been encouraging his team-mates throughout from the centre of midfield, was taken off a precaution and was replaced by Nick Burtenshaw.
A superb break from right-back from Brett Longden almost led to the Town inching ahead in the 25th minute but Jake Robinson blazed over.
However, a minute later, Lacey had the Hatters ahead when he headed home into the bottom corner.
Walker continued to pose problems for the Gills down the Town’s right flank, and five minutes before the break he, Woolley and a midfield trailist combined that saw the latter shoot over the crossbar.
As half-time approached, Gillingham almost levelled the score on 43 minutes when the Town failed to deal with a left-wing corner and a diving header cannoned off the top of the crossbar.
Shortly after the hour mark good work from Woolley set-up Burtenshaw from the edge of the area to fire just over the bar.
While Gillingham were enjoying more of the ball it was the Hatters who were looking the more likely side to add to the scoreline on the break, and they almost doubled their advantage three times in the space of a minute.
Firstly, on 75 minutes, Woolley’s fine turn and shot bounced millimetres wide of the target and away for a corner from which Jake Robinson saw 20-yard effort loop over after the Gills had half-cleared. Walker then came closest on 76 minutes when a forceful run culminated in a low shot that beat the goalkeeper but struck the inside of the post and away to safety.
Gillingham almost punished the Town for those misses eight minutes from time when they broke in behind the home defence but when the ball was presented on a plate for the visiting striker he skied it high over Brill’s crossbar.
Woolley again went close with an improvised volley on the turn on 84 minutes but, after no further chances of note, the Town held on to claim victory.
Town: Brill, Longden, Lacey, Chabata, Jibodu, J. Robinson (sub McKenzie-Lowe), Spiller (sub Burtenshaw (sub Smith)), Trialist, M. Robinson, Walker, Woolley.