Hatters draw a blank but equal record
The Hatters equalled a club record 19 games unbeaten as they ground out a goalless draw at Lincoln to stretch their lead at the top of the table to five points.
The Town were unchanged with new loan signing Kane Ferdinand among the substitutes following his arrival from Peterborough.
Lincoln, missing four players through suspension, started the brighter. Mamadou Fofana blazed a shot over the crossbar in the opening minute as the Imps pressed for an early goal.
It was end-to-end stuff as both sides traded the ball on a boggy pitch only passed fit after two morning inspections.
To their credit the Town were playing some eye-catching football and a fine move on 17 minutes led to Paul Benson being fouled on the edge of the penalty area but Luke Guttridge’s on-target free-kick was deflected over by the Lincoln wall.
The Imps had scored twice against the Hatters by utilising their huge long throw-ins from both flanks in the meeting earlier in the campaign and the home side were once again threatening from the same tactics.
However, the Town defence continued to hold firm in the face of several long throws hurled in the box and, on one occasion, the Hatters broke after defending one and came close when Benson headed wide.
As the half wore on the Hatters began to get on top. Scott Griffiths came close to breaking the deadlock on 33 minutes when he raced upfield, played a one-two with Jake Howells and sent a well-hit left-foot drive narrowly over the crossbar.
Still the Town pressed. Guttridge’s left-wing corner was headed over by Benson but Lincoln came close to taking the lead on 38 minutes when centre-half Nat Brown headed inches wide following a left-wing corner.
The Hatters spurned a great chance to take the lead two minutes before the break, however, when Alex Lawless’ mazy run into the penalty area enabled Ronnie Henry to cross for Andre Gray but, with the goal gaping the leading goalscorer scuffed his shot. Lincoln failed to clear the danger, though, which led to a Howells shot blocked – with Town penalty appeals waved away – before Benson headed straight at home stopper Paul Farman.
Moments before the break Benson’s clever touch enabled Guttridge to get a shot away which was blocked and both sides went in at half-time with the score blank.
The second half begun with a shot from Guttridge that took a deflection into the arms of Farman but the midfielder picked up an injury in doing so and Ferdinand came on for his debut in his place.
Tyler needed to be alert on 51 minutes when he clung onto a header from Brown which bounced awkwardly off of the mud in the six-yard box. A minute later Griffiths then did brilliantly to clear with Mitch Austin waiting for a tap-in as Lincoln caught the Town cold at the back.
Lincoln were enjoying a good spell as the Town struggled to create a clear-cut chance and Lincoln threatened again on 53 minutes when Conner Robinson fired just over the crossbar from distance.
Howells headed over for the Hatters from eight yards at the other end on the hour following Henry’s right-wing cross but the home side were enjoying the better of the ball.
The Town rode the Lincoln pressure and all of a sudden found a second wind after the hour mark. Lawless’ throughball was perfect for Benson to pull the trigger but the in-form striker’s first touch let him down and the chance was gone.
With 20 minutes ago the Town engineered another decent move, this time Griffiths’ left-wing cross was kept in by Lawless and his cut-back found Gray whose shot in the box was blocked by two Lincoln defenders.
Back came Lincoln, Sam-Yorke firing a well-hit volley just over the bar from the edge of the box with 15 minutes left on the clock.
It was end to stuff with seven minutes left. Lawless’ run and pass found Benson whose touch let him down in the box before Lincoln broke and Joe Davis’ fine clearance denied the hosts a chance to test Tyler. From that the Town almost threatened once more, Lawless’ cut-back for Gray but his shot was charged down.
With two minutes left Gray fashioned a chance on his own, rolling his marker to race into the box and his low shot clipped the boot of home goalkeeper Farman and behind for a corner.
The Hatters huffed and puffed for a late winner but couldn’t quite get the breaks they needed and in the end it finished in stalemate.
TOWN: Tyler; Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Davis; Robinson, Lawless, Guttridge, Howells; Gray, Benson.
Subs not used: Ferdinand, Cullen, Mawson, Wall, Justham.
Attendance 2,928 including 974 shouting for the Hatters