Benson 16, Lawless 27, 60, Gray 30
Oster 70, Hatch 84
The Town moved to within a point of leaders Cambridge United after stretching their unbeaten league run to 15 games with a 4-2 win over Gateshead.
In-form Gateshead were torn apart by a rampant Hatters side who were three goals to the good at half-time following goals from Paul Benson, Alex Lawless and Andre Gray.
Lawless bagged his second on the hour and, although Gateshead scored twice to give the scoreline a closer look, the victory was never in doubt as the Town celebrated news that John Still has signed a contract extension until 2015 in style.
The manager made just one change to the side that dismantled Alfreton in the last league fixture, with Joe Davis preferred at centre-half over Alfie Mawson.
After an even open first quarter-of-an-hour – which had seen Davis have a header cleared off the line – the Town took control the minute Benson nodded home his eighth goal of the season. Lawless did the donkey work, winning the ball down the left to pick out Benson with a perfect cross and the striker just needed to guide the ball home with his head into the corner of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
In front, the Town were playing some lovely football and the same combination almost led to a second goal when Benson flew to attempt to meet another Lawless cross but the striker couldn’t quite reach it.
However, on 27 minutes it was 2-0. Gateshead failed to clear their lines in the six-yard box and Lawless took full advantage to coolly finish past visiting goalkeeper Adam Bartlett.
And two became three just three minutes later. Mark Tyler kept out a rasping drive from John Oster and, after clearing the subsequent corner the Town broke. Jonathan Smith found Gray and he did the rest: lashing home an unstoppable shot from just inside the penalty area for his 13th goal of the season.
Gateshead continued to be put under pressure in their own 18-yard box as the Town hunted a fourth goal before half-time. Benson and Gray almost combined on 40 minutes only for the visitors to clear before Luke Guttridge’s curling effort was blocked by the head of visiting defender.
After the break Smith sent a shot wide of the post on 49 minutes before Gray blasted a drive goalwards that was blocked three minutes later. Guttridge then almost notched an impressive volley following Bartlett’s wayward goal-kick only for the keeper to claim gratefully.
The Town did, though, find the net for the fourth time on the hour. Ronnie Henry did well down the right and as the Hatters swept up-field Benson’s shot was pawed away by Bartlett – but Lawless was on hand to hammer home the rebound with a fine first-time shot.
4-0 up the Hatters then switched off with John Oster and Liam Hatch halving the deficit for the visitors but, with time against them, the Town were still well in command.
Scott Griffiths was denied a fifth for the Town when his header was chalked off for a foul five minutes from time and in the end it stayed 4-2 as the Hatters recorded their ninth straight home win in all competitions.
Town: Tyler; Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Davis; Smith, Ruddock, Lawless, Guttridge (sub Robinson 79); Benson, Gray.
Subs not used:Mawson, Cullen, Howells, Justham.
ATTENDANCE: 6,913 (including 23 from Gateshead).