Robinson 70, Gray 82, Benson 0
The Town scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to bounce back from Monday’s defeat to open up a 14-point lead at the top of the Skrill Premier with victory over Chester.
But it took a huge slice of luck for the Hatters to take the lead when Matt Robinson’s deep left-wing cross swung over the heads of everyone in the box and past visiting goalkeeper Aaron Chapman.
With their tails up there was only one winner after that, and the game was made safe with eight minutes left when Andre Gray tucked home his 26th goal of the season.
And the points were well and truly in the bag when Paul Benson fired home the Hatters’ third in stoppage time to ensure the Hatters ended a run of three games without a win.
The Town started in orange shirts – the winning colour in the kit poll for next season’s shirts – with two changes in midfield in the wake of the defeat to Woking. Pelly Ruddock and Andy Parry started in the place of Cameron McGeehan and Matt Robinson.
Chester, who need the points like the Town – but for different reasons in their bid to beat the drop – operated a shoot-on-sight policy much like Woking did on Monday. However, it was the Town that came closest first – skipper Ronnie Henry warming the gloves of Chester keeper Chapman from six yards on 14 minutes.
The visitors were putting plenty of pressure on the Town defence but in truth they were inviting pressure on themselves in a first half that saw five Chester men cautioned for fouls, with three yellow cards brandished by referee Whitton in a seven-minute spell.
The game swung from end-to-end, though, with the Town unable to really create a worthwhile opening, allowing Chester plenty of the ball, much to the frustration of the Hatters faithful. Chester threatened five minutes before the break when John Rooney let fly from the edge of the box, but a brave block from Scott Griffiths deflected the ball out of harm’s way.
Chester continued to pose problems for the Town defence as half-time approached. Rooney whacked a low effort inches wide of the target with Mark Tyler scrambling on 41 minutes before the same played chanced his luck with another shot from outside the box three minutes later that drifted wide.
The Town upped the ante in four minutes of stoppage time but the closest they came to testing Chapman came when Alex Lawless sliced a volley wide of the target.
After a frustrating first half it looked as though the second would be the same. The Town, though, began the second period with purpose. Benson almost teed up Jake Howells on 52 minutes before Benson then fluffed an attempted bicycle kick a minute later.
An even better opportunity went begging for the Hatters on 55 minutes but Griffiths sent a drive from inside the penalty area well over the crossbar having been found unmarked.
The chances soon came with regularity as the Town pushed and probed for a way through the Chester defence. Ruddock and Benson combined superbly on the hour to engineer an opportunity for Gray but the striker saw his effort well stopped by Chapman.
With the game still goalless John Still introduced Mark Cullen for Howells on 61 minutes and then Robinson for Parry on 67 minutes. And three minutes after his introduction Robinson broke the deadlock in fortuitous fashion. His deep cross 30 yards from goal was misjudged by Chapman and the ball sailed gratefully into the top corner of the net. It was his second goal for the club.
Buoyed by that, the Town were a different team all of a sudden as they looked to pick Chester off. Tyler, though, had to be alert on 73 minutes when Rooney’s low shot was parried by the Hatters’ number one before the keeper then blocked the follow-up.
The Town then brought on a Rooney of their own with eight minutes to go, with new boy Luke replacing Ruddock, and moments after Gray saw a shot blocked, it was 2-0. Cullen sent Gray racing through and, after bumping his marker out of the way, the Town’s top scorer finished confidently across Chapman for his 26th goal of the campaign.
With the points in the bag it got better for the Hatters in the second minute of stoppage of time. Rooney (the Luton one) was heavily involved, spreading the play out to Henry to cross. His pass was helped on by a Chester man into Benson’s path and he did the rest to bury his 17th goal of the season beyond Chapman.
And that was that. Normal service was resumed and the Town head to Grimsby on Tuesday with a 14-point lead at the top. See you there.
Town: Tyler, Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Franks; Ruddock (sub Rooney 82), Parry (sub Robinson 67), Lawless; Howells (sub Cullen 61), Gray, Benson. Subs not used: Shaw, Justham.
Attendance: 8,475, including 229 from Chester.