Magnificent seven for the Hatters as they defeat United

Andrew Shinnie opens the scoring for Luton at Scunthorpe this afternoon
Andrew Shinnie opens the scoring for Luton at Scunthorpe this afternoon

League One: Scunthorpe United 0 Luton Town 2

Luton made it seven straight league wins for the first time since the 2001-02 season as they held off a spirited Scunthorpe United this afternoon.

What made the result even better for the Hatters is that they went into the game knowing leaders Portsmouth had lost 2-0 at Gillingham, meaning that should they triumph, the gap would be down to a single point.

That they did, and although it was no Boxing Day cracker, United having the better of the first period, a display of real professionalism when 2-0 ahead after the break, saw Luton hit the 50-point mark, with only 24 games gone.

Visiting boss Nathan Jones was forced into his first change after going eight games with the same starting 11, skipper Glen Rea failing to recover from his knee injury against Burton on Saturday, Jorge Grant coming in, while Alan McCormack and Lloyd Jones were on the bench, Dan Potts absent.

Town made a fine start, Elliot Lee's wonderful pass setting Jack Stacey free who took a heavy touch and the chance went begging, while Lee himself then dragged tamely wide from 20 yards.

Although the hosts went into the game with six defeats in a row, not scoring in five of them, they didn't look without confidence as after getting on top of the game, could easily have broken the deadlock themselves, creating a number of decent chances.

First, with Town's defence not covering themselves in glory after Sonny Bradley's poor free kick gifted possession away, a number of weak tackles saw Funso Oje cross from the left and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni blaze wildly over from a matter of yards.

Lee Novak volleyed off target from another dangerous delivery by Ojo, who then tested James Shea himself with a bouncing volley, Town's keeper watching it into his gloves all the way.

Ojo opted to go it along from range soon afterwards, Shea collecting easily, but the hosts were definitely in the ascendancy as Luton's defending started to take on a more desperate feel to it.

However, as all good sides seem capable of, Luton then broke away at the other end, and almost took the lead on 34 minutes when Lee spotted Harry Cornick in space on the right.

He sent over a lovely clipped pass which the attacker took down perfectly, arrowing a shot towards the bottom corner only to see home keeper Jack Alnwick stick out a strong right hand to make an excellent parry.

Alnwick was picking the ball out of the net on 37 minutes though with a brilliant free-flowing move.

Referee Martin Coy deserved great credit as with Lee down wanting a free kick, he let play go on, James Justin speeding away on the left, cutting the ball back across the edge of the penalty area where Shinnie timed his run perfectly to send a first time left footer into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Although it was harsh on the hosts, it was further notice of just how deadly the Hatters are in front of goal at this current moment in time, Shinnie bagging a fifth of the campaign.

After the break, the hosts came close to levelling, Kyle Wootton heading over, but Luton then doubled their lead just three minutes in.

Lee's 25-yarder was well hit, but Alnwick won't be happy in parrying it straight back into the danger area, Cornick following up to beat the keeper.

A third almost followed immediately, as Pearson looped a header goalwards from Justin's free kick and rather than nod it in, Lee opted to chest and shoot, his effort blocked away.

Luton clearly sensed adding to their goal difference, as from a free kick, they broke at pace, Lee's curler from distance taking a nick and deflecting behind.

Town brought on Alan McCormack for a first league run out since October for Grant, while Shea had to make a smart save from Kyle Wootton's header, his handling impeccable.

Danny Hylton was introduced for goalscorer Cornick, inches away from adding a third, his angled volley after a corner dropped invitingly not missing by much.

Late on, the hosts applied a degree of pressure, Lee producing a wonderful sliding block and Pearson heading a corner away from the goal-line, while Shea fisted Cameron Borthwick-Jackson's free kick over the bar, to show the level of commitment to the cause from every member of the Hatters' side.

Results elsewhere made it an even better afternoon for Luton, with Peterborough, Charlton and Doncaster all losing, as the Hatters head to Walsall looking to make it eight straight wins on Saturday.

Iron: Jak Alnwick, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Funso Ojo, James Perch, Lee Novak (Stephen Humphreys 81), George Thomas, Yasin Ben El-Mhanni (Andy Dales 82) Charlie Goode, Levi Sutton, Rory McArdle (C), Kyle Wootton.

Subs not used: Jonathan Flatt, James Horsfield, Ike Ugbo, Clayton Lewis.

Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, James Justin, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Andrew Shinnie (Luke Berry 90), Jorge Grant (Alan McCormack , Elliot Lee, James Collins, Harry Cornick (Danny Hylton 77).

Subs not used: Marek Stech, Alan Sheehan, Kazenga LuaLua, Lloyd Jones.

Referee: Martin Coy.

Booked: Perch 64, Collins 90.

Attendance: 4,050.