Hatters run riot...again
Nuneaton Town 0
Luton Town 5
Benson 34, 81, Gray 63, Guttridge 70, Howells 85
The Hatters surged even further clear at the top of the Skrill Premier with a five-star performance at Nuneaton to make it 23 games unbeaten.
Two goals from Paul Benson – one in each half – as well as further strikes from Andre Gray, Luke Guttridge and Jake Howells – sealed an emphatic victory as the Town ran riot for the second week in succession after last Saturday’s 7-0 win over Hereford.
The Town started unchanged at a blustery Liberty Way and it wasn’t until the 11th minute that either side forced a chance when Wes York’s shot from the edge of the box was saved by Mark Tyler, diving down to his right.
Almost immediately he Hatters then raced down the other end to win a corner from which Cameron McGeehan saw his shot from eight yards bravely blocked by a number of Nuneaton players quickly closing down the young midfielder.
Five minutes later, on 17 minutes, the Town came even closing to breaking the deadlock when clever play from Luke Guttridge fashioned a chance for Jake Howells and his fierce drive from the edge of the box was turned over the crossbar by home stopper James Belshaw.
Andre Gray, who scored a hat-trick in the 3-0 win in the fixture between the two sides a month ago, was finding life tough on the right flank up against home defender Theo Streete. On 21 minutes Gray did well to take a Ronnie Henry cross in his stride into the box but the ball ran away from him and the chance was gone.
The wind was wreaking havoc as both sides attempted to play football but a minute after Benson, Gray and Pelly Ruddock combined in some eye-catching football the Town took the lead. Gray’s throughball wasn’t cut out by the home defence allowing Benson to stride clear. The striker scuffed his first shot which eluded Belshaw and Benson was able to run around to tuck home into the unguarded net for his 13th goal of the season.
With their noses in front the Hatters defence did well to nullify Nuneaton’s response: Fraser Franks clearing well after a rampaging run forward from defence by Streete on 40 minutes.
Two minutes later Benson came within a whisker of doubling his and the Town’s lead when he volleyed wide inside the penalty area having taken a superb pass from Guttridge.
Leading at the break the Town defended well four minutes after the restart when home skipper Gaz Dean’s header was hacked away on the post.
After that near miss the Hatters came close to making it 2-0 when Gray sprinted clear down the right flank at pace. His cross was inches away from finding Ruddock before Howells’ shot was then half-cleared to Scott Griffiths’ whose volley was comfortable for Belshaw.
Boro introduced top goalscorer Louis Moult on 55 minutes and four minutes later he almost caused panic in the Town box before the Hatters broke at pace with Gray. His superb cross-field pass found Guttridge but his right-wing cross was smothered by Belshaw with Benson lurking.
However, the Town did double their lead on 63 minutes. Guttridge found a pocket of space in the box to ghost past two men in the box and his cross was bravely flicked on by the diving head of Benson and Gray was on hand to bundle home his 23rd goal of the season from a yard out. It was his 50th goal in Town colours.
It got even better for the Town on 71 minutes when Guttridge made it 3-0 with yet another superb team goal. McGeehan, Ruddock, Benson and Gray were all involved in a fine passing move in and around the penalty area before Guttridge was teed-up to power home his 10th goal of the season.
The Hatters were playing some delightful football and it soon 4-0 on 81 minutes when Benson grabbed his second of the afternoon soon after, diving to head across goal to meet Howells’ pin-point left-wing cross.
Four minutes later it was 5-0 as the Town turned on the style. Substitute Jon Shaw eked out a cross from the right to swing in a perfect ball for the on-running Howells and he buried a header past Belshaw from inside the six yard box. It was a goal that cranked up the goal difference to +50 and that was that was that as the Hatters racked up another astonishing victory.
TOWN: Tyler; Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Franks; McGeehan, Guttridge (sub Robinson), Ruddock; Howells, Gray (sub Lawless); Benson (Shaw). Subs not used: Charles, Justham.
ATTENDANCE: 3,482, including a magnificent 1,991 from the Town.