Hatters get back to winning ways at Dagenham
Goals from Luke Guttridge and Alex Lawless gave the Hatters a priceless win on the road with a convincing victory over struggling Dagenham and Redbridge.
Guttridge opened the scoring on the cusp of half-time, poking home following good work from Josh McQuoid to give the Town the advantage at the interval.
The midfielder then turned provider, teeing up Lawless to tuck in his first goal of the season to confirm a first league win in five outings.
It was an encouraging display all round for the Hatters, taking their first clean sheet away from home this campaign as well as breaching last season’s away goals tally of 17.
John Still opted for three changes at his former club, giving Lawless a first league start of the season, alongside McQuoid and Scott Griffiths, while Cameron McGeehan was forced to take a place on the bench.
East London fog caused havoc in the opening stages, allowing neither team any chances in a quiet 10 minutes before Jack Marriott stung the palms of Liam O’Brien for the game’s first opening.
Marriott was involved in the next chance too, attempting to profit from a blocked Joshua Pask clearance with an acrobatic effort in the area, perhaps unaware of the time he had from the looping ball, hitting wide when he could afford to take a touch.
Dagenham were limited to half chances in the opening quarter, notably a wayward strike from Ashley Hemmings, but the Hatters were still on top as their bid for a first league win in five outings continued.
Marriott, who else, came inches from breaking the deadlock when he met Guttridge’s left-side free-kick, denied from finding the bottom corner by O’Brien’s fingertips.
Despite the Hatters’ dominance, the Daggers still held a threat with Jamie Cureton up front, who tricked his way past Scott Cuthbert on the edge of the box, but could only find a steady Mark Tyler, who was given little to do in the first half.
Back Luton came, Marriott again taking aim while under pressure from Jack Connors, before Jonathan Smith took aim from all of 25 yards, volleying inches wide after the ball dropped nicely to him from a defensive clearance.
But the Town’s dominance paid off just four minutes later as McQuoid looped a ball into space in the Daggers’ penalty box, where Guttridge was on hand to poke home brilliantly under pressure for his 19th goal in Luton colours, but just his fourth away from Kenilworth Road.
The visitors looked good value for their lead heading into half-time, although it was Dagenham in the ascendancy in the early stages of the second half, with numerous crosses from the right that were combatted comfortably by the Town back-line.
The Hatters kept pushing for a second, however, and Guttridge came close to doubling his own tally, unleashing a rasping shot which O’Brien did well to save after an excellent Luton move.
Back the hosts came, and they were perhaps unfortunate not to get a penalty when Joss Labadie appeared to be tripped, but the Dagenham man was booked for diving despite a hint of contact from Marriott in the area.
With momentum behind them, Dagenham gained their best chance of the match when Hemmings capitalised on a rebound to stream clear on Tyler’s goal, but the striker could only flick the post before the ball spun wide.
And just moments later, the Town were two goals to the good. Marriott’s persistency was rewarded when robbing O’Brien amidst defensive miscommunication, with the ball falling to Guttridge who in turn squared to Lawless to fire into a keeperless net 20 minutes into the second half.
Ex-Dagger Craig Mackail-Smith was introduced to strong applause from the home faithful, replacing Marriott as Dagenham remained limited to long-range Chambers efforts, firing over from a free-kick in a promising angle.
Guttridge came close to a second when Lawless’ endeavour down the right allowed him to loop a cross in to the unmarked midfielder, who could only nod over from close to the penalty spot.
Despite the lead, it was the Hatters who looked likelier to score as the hosts went off the boil heading into the last ten minutes as Smith in particular chasing down every ball in a bid for the Town’s first clean sheet since their 2-0 victory at AFC Wimbledon back in September.
And it proved to be so, as John Still’s team notched a much-needed victory, moving them to 13th ahead of next Saturday’s FA Cup trip to Crawley.
Hatters: Tyler; Long, Griffiths, Wilkinson, Cuthbert; Doyle, Smith, Lawless (sub McGeehan 86); Guttridge, McQuoid, Marriott (sub Mackail-Smith 68).
Subs not used: Justham, Potts, Green, McCourt, Lee.
Attendance: 2,773, including a fantastic 1,083 from the Town.