Skrill Premier: Macclesfield Town 1 Luton Town 2
Lethal Luton striker Andre Gray struck twice as the Hatters recorded their first-ever victory at the Moss Rose this evening with a 2-1 victory over Macclesfield Town, writes Mark Wood.
With nearest rivals Cambridge United surprisingly losing 1-0 at home to Alfreton, Town stretched their lead at the top of the Skrill Premier to six points thanks to Gray’s late winner.
It ended the Silkmen’s 16-game undefeated home run and stretched Luton’s record unbeaten league run to 21 games.
Town made two changes from the team that beat Nuneaton as new signings Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Fraser Franks made their full debuts, while defender Ryan Inniss was ruled out through illness and Matt Robinson dropped to the bench.
The visitors snatched the lead on nine minutes when Gray’s chipped cross-shot was tipped on to the post by keeper Rhys Taylor with Paul Benson seemingly turning it in, but it was Gray who celebrated.
Energetic Town chased down every loose ball and produced some slick passing, but the home side should have levelled after half an hour.
Chris Holroyd danced his way into the box, leaving Steve McNulty on his rear, but somehow fired wide from 10 yards.
Jack Mackreth was proving a real threat, while a low corner ran to Scott Kay on 33 minutes but he blasted over.
Sucking up some pressure Luton looked to counter as Gray’s left-footed effort was deflected wide on 36 minutes with Benson glancing over from the resulting corner.
But the Silkmen levelled three minutes later when Town failed to press on the edge of their area and Daniel Andrew buried into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Buoyed by the goal, Scott Boden flashed a header over, but the Hatters should have retaken the initiative a minute before the break when Mpanzu bulldozed his way through a challenge but, one-on-one with the keeper, his curler drifted just over.
Taylor produced an acrobatic one-handed save to turn away Cameron McGeehan’s powerful header from Luke Guttridge’s corner early in the second half.
Mark Tyler came to Town’s rescue on 55 minutes when Boden swivelled on to Mackreth’s cross and the keeper pulled off an instinctive reaction save to turn this effort round the post.
An end-to-end encounter saw Steve Williams have a powerful shot blocked as Mpanzu thread Gray through but, with just the keeper to beat, he fired wildly over.
Gray then scored the winner with eight minutes to go when Scott Griffiths’ long throw was allowed to bounce in the box and the striker’s hooked home.
Luton were indebted to Tyler at the death as they hung on for a crucial three points.
First he pulled off a superb save to turn Holroyd’s header over and then got down to grasp the striker’s low effort.
Franks put in a key tackle and McNulty a vital block as dogged Town held on as over four minutes of injury time was played.
Silkmen (4-4-2): Rhys Taylor, Joseph Connor, Daniel Andrew, Jack Mackreth, Chris Holroyd, Peter Winn (Waide Fairhurst 65), Steven Williams, Scott Boden (Paul Lewis 77), Scott Kay (Daniel Rowe 87), Andy Halls, Daniel Whitaker (C).
Substitutes not used: Paul Turnbull, George Pilkington.
Hatters (4-3-3): Mark Tyler, Fraser Franks, Steve McNulty, Jake Howells, Scott Griffiths, Cameron McGeehan, Luke Guttridge, Ronnie Henry (C), Paul Benson, Andre Gray (Alex Lawless 88), Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu.
Substitutes not used: Elliot Justham, Anthony Charles, Matt Robinson, Mark Cullen.
Booked: Fairhurst 79; Benson 90+2.
Referee: K Evans.
Assistant Referees: S Eagland and D Cheosiaua.
Fourth Official: T Kirk.
Attendance: 1,705 (Luton 401).
Star Hatter: Fraser Franks. Superb debut from the commanding centre-half.
For all the latest Luton Town FC news, reports, stats, player profiles, live match updates, MOM poll, prediction table and a complete fixture list, visit our Hatters Microsite.