Outstanding Luton scored a superb 4-0 victory tonight as they overran Woking at Kingfield in the Skrill Premier, writes Mark Wood.
In-form striker Mark Cullen led the way with a brace, defender Alex Lacey scored his maiden goal for the club, Andre Gray registered his first of the season and teenage forward Zane Banton made his debut as a late substitute on a perfect night for the Hatters.
Town made two changes from the 3-2 win over Lincoln at the weekend, Gray and Lacey coming in as Alex Lawless didn’t travel with a back injury and Jim Stevenson missed out.
After a scrappy start but Luton almost took the lead on 17 minutes when Luke Guttridge released Cullen.
His cross was poked goalwards by Gray but keeper Sam Beasant came charging out to save at his feet.
Jake Howells’ first-time cross across the six-yard box found no takers before Woking should have gone in front on 24 minutes.
Steve McNulty completely missed a ball forward as Gavin Williams raced clean through, but Mark Tyler got down superbly to save.
Tyler was to the fore again seconds later when turned Giuseppe Sole’s deflected effort from the edge of the box behind.
Yet it was the Hatters who took the lead on 28 minutes in fortuitous circumstances when Howells’ corner was allowed to bounce through a crowded six-yard box and Cullen’s flick header seemed to go in off a home defender.
Woking had appeals for a penalty turned down on 32 minutes when McNulty muscled Sole off the ball, but Town continued to threaten.
They doubled their lead from the subsequent set-piece when a clever short corner routine saw Guttridge’s cross pick Lacey to score with a downward header.
Luton capped a fantastic half with a third in the stoppage time as Guttridge whipped in another excellent cross and Cullen crashed home a superb header.
The woodwork denied Cullen a hat-trick five minutes into the second half, as he headed Howells’ free-kick against the bar and Gray lifted the rebound over.
It was all Luton as Beasant saved superbly at Cullen’s feet, with the keeper then getting a foot to Guttridge’s follow-up.
Gray then battled his way through and toe-poked over with only Beasant to beat.
But the recalled striker got the goal he deserved after 70 minutes when he raced on to Howells’ through ball and produced a composed low finish.
Not to be forgotten Tyler then pulled off possibly his best save of the night, turning substitute John Goddard’s 30-yard curler over the bar.
Banton, 17, fresh from signing his first pro deal, made his Hatters debut as an 85th-minutes sub.
The teenager almost capped his debut with a goal too as after McNulty’s powerful free-kick fizzed inches wide, Banton raced through only to be denied by Beasant.
The ball fell to Cullen, who was denied his treble as John Nutter stretched out a foot to clear off the line.
Cards (4-5-1): Sam Beasant, John Nutter, Mark Ricketts (C), Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson, Gavin Williams (George Frith 76), Giuseppe Sole (Anthony McNamee 63), Kevin Betsy, Mike Cestor, Josh Payne, Darren Murphy (John Goddard 68). Subs not used: Aaron Howe, Niall Wright.
Hatters (4-3-3): Mark Tyler, Jonathan Smith, Steve McNulty, Jake Howells (JJ O’Donnell 85), Scott Griffiths, Mark Cullen, Andy Parry, Luke Guttridge (Shaun Whalley 87), Ronnie Henry (C), Andre Gray (Zane Banton 85), Alex Lacey. Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Solomon Taiwo.
Booked: McNerney 76; Cestor 89.
Referee: Lee Swabey.
Assistant Referees: John Pike and Gary Parsons.
Fourth Official: David McNamara.
Attendance: 1,955 (Luton 731).
Star Hatter: Luke Guttridge. Awesome again, but there were so many vying for the honour on the evening.
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