Thumping victory on the road for the Hatters
Cullen 28, 45, Lacey 35, Gray 70
The Hatters made it three wins on the spin with a fantastic victory away at Woking.
Two headed goals from Mark Cullen and another header from Alex Lacey in the first half had the Town in control after Mark Tyler had kept the hosts at bay with two excellent saves.
Cullen hit the bar at the start of the second half but Andre Gray notched his first goal of the season to make it 4-0 with 20 minutes to go to seal the Hatters’ second away victory of the campaign in style.
With Alex Lawless absent after picking up a back problem on the morning of the game, John Still was forced into one of two changes to the side that beat Lincoln on Saturday. Lacey returned to partner Steve McNulty at centre-half in a move that saw Andy Parry move forward into midfield at Jim Stevenson’s expense. Gray started in attack whilst there was a place on the bench for 17-year-old striker Zane Banton.
The first 15 minutes saw both sides force half chances and it wasn’t until the 17th minute before the Hatters came close to breaking the deadlock. Luke Guttridge’s clever pass forward sent Cullen away and his square pass was met by Gray who poked an effort goalwards that was kept out by Sam Beasant in the Woking goal.
While the Town were looking the more likely to score as they began to assert their authority against the strugglers, it was Woking that should have taken the lead on 24 minutes – only for Tyler to come to the Hatters’ rescue. McNulty failed to head clear a long ball over the top of the Town defence which allowed Gavin Willliams to race clear but his low shot was kept out superbly by Tyler.
A minute later Tyler came to the Hatters’ aid once more making an even better stop to prevent Giuseppe Sole’s deflected drive from the edge of the box from creeping into the bottom corner.
You sensed that double save would turn out to be crucial and so it proved on 28 minutes as the Town took the lead. Jake Howells’ right-wing corner was met by the head of Cullen, and his near-post effort was deflected home past an exposed Beasant.
No sooner were the Hatters ahead than they doubled their on 35 minutes. Gray did well to win a corner down the left that Guttridge and Howells’ worked short, and the former’s curling cross was swung deep to the back-post where an unmarked Lacey nodded down and into the roof of the net for his first goal in Luton colours.
Woking briefly threatened on 40 minutes as they searched for a way back into the game before the break when Sole’s shot was blocked bravely by Ronnie Henry.
As the break approached the 731 Town fans in the away would have probably taken a two-goal half-time lead, but in first half stoppage time they were celebrating a third. Again Guttridge was the creator, delivering an inch-perfect left-wing cross that was met by the head of Cullen. Unlike his first goal, there was absolutely no doubt about this one: a flying effort similar to his first goal against Lincoln on Saturday.
The Town began the second half like they ended the first and were unlucky not to make it four in the opening five minutes of the restart.
Firstly, Cullen was denied his treble – and a hat-trick of headers – when he met Howells’ right-wing free-kick on 50 minutes but saw his fine effort kiss the face of the crossbar. Gray was first to the loose ball but skied his shot from inside the six yard box.
Four minutes later it was almost 4-0 when firstly Cullen and then Guttridge were denied by home stopper Beasant as the Hatters looked to further increase their goal difference.
Tyler had barely had a save to make since his excellent double contribution in the first half and, despite Woking pressure, the Town defence continued to hold firm.
As the second half reached its half-way point the Town came close twice more. Parry headed a left-wing Lacey cross high and wide, before Gray rifled way, way over the crossbar after worming his way into the box on 67 minutes.
However, the Town, and Gray, were not to be denied three minutes later with a goal of real quality. Howells intercepted a loose Woking pass, strode forward and slipped in Gray with an accurate through-ball and last season’s leading scorer got off the mark for this campaign by sending a cool, confident finish past Beasant.
Woking made a flurry of substitutions in a bid to reduce the arrears but Tyler topped his first half stops with an unbelievable one-hand save to turn over Cards sub John Goddard’s curling shot from the edge of the penalty area.
As time ticked down it was the Town’s turn to make the substitutions with Gray, Howells and Guttridge all replaced after rapturous applause from the Hatters contingent and on came Shaun Whalley, JJ O’Donnell and Banton.
The Hatters continued to push for a fifth late on and almost got them. First a thunderous free-kick from McNulty whistled inches wide of the post before Banton was denied a debut to remember moments later and Cullen was denied a hat-trick when John Nutter cleared his shot off the line with the last kick of the game.
Three games, three wins and 10 goals scored and two clean sheets.
See you at Hereford.
TOWN: Tyler; Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Lacey; Parry, Smith, Guttridge (sub O’Donnell 85); Howells (sub Banton 85); Gray (sub Whalley 87); Cullen.
Subs not used: Justham, Taiwo.
Attendance: 1,955 (including 731 from the Town).