Luton Town 7-0 Hereford United
Gray 12, 58, 82, Benson 49, Howells (pen) 56, Ruddock 60, Lawless 90
A stupendous six second half goals helped the Hatters to a stunning 7-0 victory over Hereford to go nine points clear at the top of the table.
Andre Gray led the way with yet another hat-trick – his third treble of the season – and he was ably assisted with goals from Paul Benson, Jake Howells, Pelly Ruddock and Alex Lawless as the Town ran riot.
The Hatters were a goal up at half-time thanks to Gray’s first of the afternoon on 12 minutes but, after Hereford rallied in a competitive first half, the Town turned on the style in the second to record their 11th consecutive home league win and also extend their unbeaten run to an astonishing 22 games.
It all started with John Still fielding an unchanged team that beat Macclesfield on Tuesday night and after a bright opening to the game it was Gray who broke the deadlock with a predatory finish. Scott Griffiths and Luke Guttridge combined to tee-up Cameron McGeehan to drive a low shot goalwards from the edge of the box. His effort was spilled by Daniel Lloyd-Weston in the Hereford goal and Gray was first on the scene to tuck home the loose ball.
Hereford, who arrived at Kenilworth Road with just two away wins all season, responded well to going behind, but despite having their fair share of possession, the Bulls failed to seriously test Mark Tyler in the Town goal.
Gray came close with two further efforts in the first half, one which he saw cleared off of the line, whilst Benson was denied by a smart save by the legs of Lloyd-Weston after Gray had swept a ball forward for his strike-partner to chase.
However, despite Hereford’s best efforts to pull a goal back before the break it remained 1-0 and the Bulls’ threat would diminish considerably in a second half completely dominated by the Hatters.
The first of six second half goals arrived on 49 minutes when McGeehan headed on Howells’ right-wing corner, and Benson stole in to nod home from two yards out for his 12th goal of the season and his first at the Kenilworth Road end of the ground.
Two became three seven minutes later when Howells struck from the spot. Guttridge and Ruddock combined superbly before the latter was upended in the penalty area by Kingsley James and Howells coolly dispatched past Lloyd-Weston for his fifth goal of the season, and fourth from 12 yards.
By now Hereford’s resistance had completely broken as the Town continued to surge forward in the hunt for more goals.
And on the hour it was 4-0 when Ruddock scored his first senior goal by smashing a shot in off of the crossbar after a fine flowing move involving Guttridge and Benson.
Benson then tracked back in this own half to pinch the Bulls of the ball and feed Guttridge on 68 minutes, and his pass then sent Gray racing away and the in-form striker made no mistake with a confident finish to make it 5-0. It was four goals in a devastating 15 minutes for the Town.
With Tyler a spectator as the Hatters pinged the ball around for fun, poking holes in the visitors’ defence, it five became six on 82 minutes when Gray netted his treble. Lawless wriggled down the left flank to cut the ball back into the penalty area and Gray was there to side-foot powerfully past Lloyd-Weston for his 22nd goal of the season.
Gray came close to adding a fourth for himself moments later when his shot hit the side netting, but the Town did apply the coup de gras in the final minute. Lloyd-Weston made a fine save to stop Matt Robinson’s vicious 30-yard free-kick but both Lawless and fellow sub Jon Shaw were quickest to the loose ball with the former getting the verdict post-match as the Town crowned a fine week with a sterling performance.