League Two: Luton Town 1 Northampton Town 0
A dramatic late winner by sub Luke Guttridge saw Luton Town edge past Northampton Town to hit the top of the League Two table this afternoon.
It had looked like the hosts were going to be frustrated front of a season-high crowd of 10,046, before Guttridge, an ex-Cobbler, took Michael Harriman’s perfect pass in his path and fired past Jordan Archer, sending Kenilworth Road into ecstasy.
The midfielder has been frustrated at his lack of first team action in recent weeks, but showed just what in influential player he is, timing his run to perfection and decide a match with precious little goalmouth action to speak of.
Town boss John made one change as a fit-again Alex Lawless replaced Ricky Miller, who dropped out of the squad entirely.
In-form forward Mark Cullen almost had an early opening as he burst into the box, but was denied by a stunning sliding challenge from Gregor Robertson as he was about to pull the trigger.
The visitors then enjoyed a sustained period of pressure as Steve McNulty was forced into a hasty clearance, while Lawson D’Ath won a corner when his shot was deflected behind.
Town had their first real chance of note on 11 minutes when Lawless’ header back across goal was met by Cullen, but he couldn’t direct it on target.
Drury was then narrowly off target after cutting in from the right flank and sending a left footer just over.
Luton keeper Mark Tyler was called upon to make his first meaningful save from John-Joe O’Toole’s close range header, which either side of him, could have led to the opener.
With Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu looking surprisingly out of sorts, and assistant boss Terry Harris admitting afterwards, he was struggling due to a hamstring injury, Paul Benson was brought on in his place just before half time.
Town also made another change for the start of the second period as Jim Stevenson came on for Nathan Doyle, who had taken a few heavy challenges in the opening half.
The critical point of the match came just before the hour mark when Alex Nicholls was sent clean through by a tremendous sliderule pass, but Tyler, as he has done so often this season, produced a crucial low save.
Guttridge replaced Lawless on the hour and brought out the first meaningful save from Jordan Archer as he linked well with Cullen, the Cobblers keeper parrying at his near post.
Torn finally started to get a head of steam in the latter stages as both sides picked up a number of unnecessary bookings, which served to create an excellent atmosphere around the ground.
Drury saw two free kicks either deflected or cleared, before another of what are becoming regular magic moments, Guttridge escaping Ben Tozer and slotting in to lift the roof off Kenilworth Road.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Michael Harriman, Scott Griffiths, Steve McNulty (C), Luke Wilkinson, Nathan Doyle (Jim Stevenson 46), Jonathan Smith, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu (Paul Benson 45), Andy Drury, Alex Lawless (Luke Guttridge 60), Mark Cullen.
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Alex Lacey, Alex Wall, Charlie Walker.
Cobblers: Jordan Archer, John-Joe O’Toole (Chris Hackett 76), Ben Tozer, Alex Nicholls (Ivan Toney 63), Gregor Robertson, Ricky Ravenhill, Lawson D’Ath, Kaid Mohammed, Joel Byrom, Enda Stevens, Ryan Creswell (C).
Subs not used: Matthew Duke, Daniel Alfei, Kelvin Langmead, Emile Sinclair, David Moyo.
Booked: Stevens 71, Benson 77, Robertson 85, Wilkinson 87, Tozer 88.
Attendance: 10,040 (1,018 Cobblers)
Referee: Darren Sheldrake.
Hatters MOM: Steve McNulty - inspirational display once more from Town’s captain fantastic.
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