Cullen nets perfect hat-trick as Town blunt Daggers

Mark Cullen

Mark Cullen

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Striker Mark Cullen scored the perfect hat-trick as Luton Town swept aside Dagenham & Redbridge to make it six straight league wins his evening.

Hatters’ leading marksman netted a quickfire double with his head and right foot just before half time and then rifled home a left-footed strike in the second period to maintain an amazing run that has seen Luton never lose a game when he has been on target.

Luton boss John Still kept an unchanged side for the first time this season against his former club as Ricky Miller made his home debut.

The hosts were off the pace in the opening exchanges though as a lovely jinking run by Michael Harriman saw him cleverly find Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, whose shot was blocked, with Andy Drury scooping the rebound over.

Veteran forward Jamie Cureton showed his predatory instincts, skimming narrowly wide and then displaying wonderful technique to race past Luke Wilkinson and volley just over Mark Tyler’s bar.

Wilkinson headed straight at Mark Cousins, but still Town couldn’t get going at all,.

Jonathan Smith flicked Scott Doe’s effort off the line, while Ashley Chambers, so often a foe of Hatters in the past, saw his drive saved by Tyler.

Cureton warmed Tyler’s gloves once more as the striker found the only space available in the penalty area as Luton were left feeding on scraps.

Some lovely vision from Drury picked out Smith, who cut inside the area on to his left foot, tamely shooting straight at Cousins.

Luton then took the lead in the 42nd minute out of nothing when Drury did magnificently on the by-line to dink a cross over and Cullen climbed highest to head home.

One became two in the space of 60 seconds as Harriman’s ball forward saw Cullen beat the offside trap, round Cousins expertly and slot into the empty net.

Town still struggled to build up a real tempo in the second period as Harriman sold Tyler short and Cureton nipped in, but the keeper saved.

Hatters then produced their best piece of play, breaking wonderfully at pace, with Drury and Smith sending Ruddock Mpanzu away, who rifled into the crowd when a goal would have brought the house down.

It was 3-0 on 69 minutes as Benson and Doyle did excellently to recycle possession, Ruddock Mpanzu produce the stepovers before crossing for Cullen to rifle home his hat-trick.

With the match now won, Town came close to a fourth as Smith’s angled rasper cannoned against the post and then Cousins saved superbly from Doyle’s low half volley.

Cureton still kept trying manfully as his header was grasped low down by Tyler, but Luton’s stopper was beaten thanks to Christian Doidge’s powerful close range header.

Hatters almost saw their nerves jangled even more as Cureton finally beat Tyler, only to see Harriman clear his header off the line.

The result saw Luton climb into the top three for the first time this season following Bury’s heavy defeat to Shrewsbury.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Michael Harriman, Scott Griffiths, Steve McNulty (C), Luke Wilkinson, Nathan Doyle, Jonathan Smith, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Andy Drury, Ricky Miller (Paul Benson 55), Mark Cullen (Charlie Walker 88).

Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Alex Lacey, Alex Wall, Luke Guttridge, Alex Wall.

Pools: Mark Cousins, Damien Batt, Scott Doe, Brian Saah (C), Billy Bingham, Jamie Cureton, Ashley Chambers (Ashley Hemmings 71), Nathan Green, Matt Partridge, Ade Yussuff (George Porter 53), Andre Boucaud (Christian Doidge 63).

Subs not used: Liam O’Brien, Jack Connors, Ian Gayle, Frankie Raymond.

Attendance: 7,746 (166 Daggers)

Referee: Andy Davies.

Hatters MOM: Mark Cullen. Can’t looked beyond the hat-trick hero who is bang in form now.

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