Hatters dig in to beat Railwaymen and stay top
League Two: Crewe Alexandra 1 Luton Town 2
Luton Town proved they can mix it up when required by completing the perfect week, making it nine points from nine with a battling 2-1 victory at Crewe Alexandra this afternoon.
After the previous two games had seen Hatters rack up 10 goals, running riot against Cambridge and then proving too strong for Carlisle, this time they showed they were prepared to roll their sleeves up and do the dirty work, in what were horrific conditions at times, particularly in the first half.
However, they weathered the storm, quite literally, while took the victory thanks to goals from Danny Hylton and Luke Berry in the second period, and then once Johnny Mullins put through his own net, displayed the resilience to keep their opponents at arms length late on.
Town chief Nathan Jones made two changes from the side that defeated Carlisle, with Harry Cornick and Olly Lee in for Andrew Shinnie and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu.
The visitors, roared on by a vocal 1,244 supporters, who were in fine voice from the word go, forced an early corner, and when the ball was headed back into the area, Hylton volleyed off target.
Cornick was lively in the opening stages, winning two corners with his direct running on the right hand side, while Elliot Lee had a great chance on 10 minutes, superbly picked out by Hylton's chip, but despite having time on his side, opted for the spectacular volley, which was wayward.
George Cooper was clearly the hosts' dangerman, arrowing a number of fine crosses into the box, while he also took aim from 25 yards, shooting straight at Marek Stech.
A game of few clear-cut chances saw a high cross by Alan Sheehan fumbled under pressure from his own defender by keeper Dave Richards, Glen Rea's snapshot charged down.
With the skies darkening ominously around Gresty Road, the heavens then opened, as it appeared Armageddon was on its way.
Town thought they had the lead in that time too on 26 minutes, when Olly Lee dinked over a hanging cross that brother Elliot Lee showed great strength to outmuscle his marker and nod home.
However, official Graham Salisbury deemed the Town striker had been leaning on his man and chalked the goal off, much to the obvious chagrin of the younger Lee.
Callum Ainley dragged wide as the rain finally eased off, with blue skies even appearing, before Elliot Lee's cross headed back by Hylton and Berry's attempt deflected over the bar.
After the break, both teams cancelled each other out in the early stages, with Jack Stacey's cross patted away by Richards and Olly Lee's swivel volley into the stands.
Jones introduced Shinnie from the bench, which was to prove a masterstroke, the on-loan Birmingham City midfielder showing a touch of class in possession, full of flicks, spins and feints, that had been lacking prior to his arrival.
The visitors had the breakthrough on 63 minutes too when Elliot Lee did excellently to dance to the byline, his cross not properly cleared, Hylton slamming into the net off the underside of the bar for goal number 12 of the campaign.
With the deadlock broken, Luton went for the jugular, eager to kill off their struggling opponents and had a vital second just four minutes later, Shinnie winning the ball back twice, crossing low for Berry to slide his low shot beyond Richards.
Shinnie should have put the result out of sight with 15 minutes to go, as Elliot Lee beat his man on the half way and motored away, setting his team-mate away, but faced with Richards, he was denied by the keeper's trailing leg, Hylton's follow up blocked too.
Crewe then took advantage of the miss, as on 81 minutes, a cross from the right saw Mullins stick out a leg and divert past Stech into the corner of his own net.
Buoyed by the chance of gaining a precious point that had seemed unlikely, Crewe went direct into Chris Porter, causing some moments of minor consternation in the closing stages.
However, Dan Potts made a fine block, while Jordan Bowery glanced wide as Town comfortable held on for their third straight win this week, and remained at the summit on goal difference from Notts County, who grabbed a last-gasp winner against Colchester.
Alex: Dave Richards, Perry Ng, Brad Walker, Chris Porter, Chris Dagnall (C), George Cooper, Eddie Nolan, Callum Ainley (Jordan Bowery 46), Harry Pickering, Sam Stubbs, Conor Grant (Lewis Reilly 72).
Subs not used: Ben Garratt, Charlie Kirk, Oliver Finney, Josh Lundstram, Luke Offord.
Hatters: Marek Stech, Jack Stacey, Dan Potts, Johnny Mullins, Alan Sheehan (C), Glen Rea, Olly Lee (Akin Famewo 90), Luke Berry, Harry Cornick (Andrew Shinnie 60), Elliot Lee (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 83), Danny Hylton.
Subs not used: James Shea, James Justin, Jordan Cook, Luke Gambin.
Booked: Ng 47, Dagnall 83, Hylton 87.
Referee: Graham Salisbury.
Attendance: 4,571 (1,244 Luton).