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17 September 2013

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The Town bounced back from Friday’s defeat at Wrexham with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Dartford at Kenilworth Road.

Two goals in four first half minutes from Paul Benson and Luke Guttridge got the Hatters on their way before Alex Lawless – making his first start of the season – added a third mid-way through the second half to seal victory.

It was no more than the Hatters deserved following a slick display of football that could have led to more goals on a night dominated by the Town.

Lawless was one of two changes to the side that lost in North Wales, with Jim Stevenson also given his first start in Town colours. Mark Cullen and Shaun Whalley were the ones who missed out.

After a quiet start, slowly the Hatters began to assert their superiority and Benson was denied a first goal for the club by an offside flag after he found the back of the net inside the six yard box following lovely link-up play between Guttridge and Jake Howells.

Howells sent a left-foot drive inches wide on 19 minutes as the Town increased the tempo before Lawless was also off target with an effort from the edge of the box on 21 minutes.

Dartford had barely entered the Hatters penalty area in the opening 20 minutes but Tyrone Sterling fired a warning shot when thumping a well-hit drive over Mark Tyler’s crossbar.

But that came against the run of play and the Town deservedly took the lead shortly before the half-hour when Benson grabbed his first goal for the club. Lawless was the architect, finding space down the right to dig a cross out and find an unmarked Benson who did the rest, nodding home from inside the six yard box.

Four minutes after the Hatters went in front they doubled their lead when Guttridge’s heavily deflected effort left Darts keeper Alan Julian stranded. Visiting skipper Elliott Bradbrook’s should have headed the Darts level when connecting with Lee Noble’s corner but the Town broke following that chance and Guttridge was able to score his third goal of the season.

Jim Stevenson came within a whisker of adding a third before the half-time whistle when he sent a low, well-hit shot just wide of the post.

It was much the same after the break. It was all hands on deck for the Darts at the back as the Town pushed for a third and it was almost 3-0 on 59 minutes when Guttridge was denied a second goal when his fierce effort was cleared off the line by Noble.

However the Town were not to be denied a third goal and Lawless got the goal his performance deserved on 65 minutes when he rounded Julian to tuck home neatly from an acute angle after great one-touch play between Benson and Jonathan Smith.

With the Hatters playing some eye-catching football they thought they should have two penalties in the space of 10 seconds on 66 minutes when goalscorers Benson and Guttridge went down in the box but referee Whitton remain unconvinced and waved away the loud appeals for spot-kicks.

Benson then came close to adding his second and the Hatters’ fourth on 77 minutes and after a series of subs, the Town closed out an impressive victory and ensure a sixth clean sheet in nine matches.

Town: Tyler; Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Parry; Smith, Guttridge, Stevenson (sub Taiwo); Lawless (sub Whalley), Howells (sub Martin), Benson.

Subs not used: Justham, Gray.

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