Skrill Premier: Luton Town 1 Aldershot Town 0
A late goal from Cameron McGeehan put Luton Town two wins away from the Skrill Premier title as they finally broke Aldershot Town’s resistance at Kenilworth Road this afternoon, writes Mike Simmonds.
It had looked like Hatters were going to be held to a rare stalemate in front of their own fans, with the Shots desperate for points themselves to avoid relegation.
Town boss John Still had made two changes to the side who had won 2-1 at Dartford on Tuesday night, with two of the stars, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Luke Rooney replacing Matt Robinson and Jake Howells who dropped to the bench.
Shots had the first effort in anger with Josh Scott dragging wide as Town were guilty of trying to play their way out of defence.
Rooney volleyed off target for the hosts, who thought they had the lead on 20 minutes when Paul Benson was sent through by Andre Gray.
Defender Jaydon Gibbs slid in to send the ball looping over Glenn Morris and into the net, but the linesman’s flag chalked it off, just as Town’s striker was sheepishly wheeling away.
Gray looked for all the world like he would put Hatters in front on the half hour as Rooney pounced on a clearance and fed skipper Henry on the right flank.
The skipper’s inch-perfect cross found Town’s leading scorer, but Morris spread himself excellently to repel the volley.
Fraser Franks then saw yellow for bringing down the sprightly Adam Mekki after a rare Steve McNulty error, but the resulting free kick was hammered way over Tyler’s bar by the striker.
Gray came close again in the closing stages. Found by Lawless’ clever ball from deep, he put on the afterburners to race clear of two Shots defenders, but Morris once again was out quickly to stick out a leg and save.
The keeper didn’t cover himself in glory soon afterwards though, rushing out as Ruddock Mpanzu ran from deep to meet Rooney’s chip, but he couldn’t direct a header on target.
Tyler then made a simple save to clutch on to Mekki’s angled drive as Luton failed to score in the first half at home for the third game running.
After the break, Shots settled first, as Craig Stanley fired off target after a poor ball out of defence by Ruddock Mpanzu.
The impressive Mekki continued to be the Shots most likely source of a goal, but his free kick once again to trouble Tyler.
Gray remained Town’s clearest threat too as he escaped on the wing and from his cross, Benson’s close range effort deflected behind for a corner.
As he had in midweek, Still rang the changes once more with Robinson and Mark Cullen on during the seond half, but a positive Shots side still had opportunities.
Mekki forced a low save from Tyler, while the unmarked Jordan Roberts should have done better on the half volley, only to shank wide.
Still threw Howells on for Lawless and he substitute played a major part in the winning goal on 85 minutes.
Twinkling his way past a Shots defender, the longest serving player’s cross was spilled by Morris and McGeehan dived in bravely to force the ball over the line as Kenilworth Road erupted.
Luton had a scare in the closing stages when Franks’ sliced clearance flew towards his own goal, but Tyler reacted superb to palm the ball up in the air and then punched clear, before tipping the resulting corner over.
There was no time for the Shots to mount another comeback though as Town ground out another crucial three points to edge ever closer to the title.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Ronnie Henry, Scott Griffiths, Steve McNulty, Fraser Franks, Cameron McGeehan, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu (Matt Robinson 68), Luke Rooney (Mark Cullen 75), Alex Lawless (Jake Howells 82) Andre Gray, Paul Benson.
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Jon Shaw.
Aldershot Town: Glenn Morris, Joe Oastler, Craig Stankey (C), Adam Mekki, Martin Rowlands (Harry Cornick 88), Josh Scott (Bradley Bubb 51), Mark Molesley (Jordan Roberts 70), Jaydon Gibbs, Dan Butler, Emmanuel Oyeleke, Mark Phillips.
Subs not used: Luke Williams, Rob Gerrard.
Referee: Simon Bennett.
Bookings: Franks 36, Scott 49, Henry 63, Butler 86.
Attendance: 8,558 (240 Shots)
Referee: Simon Bennett.
MOM: Andre Gray. Full of running and Town’s likeliest source of a goal.