Hatters pull clear at the top as they cruise past Mariners
League Two: Luton Town 2 Grimsby Town 0
Luton Town have rarely had it more comfortable this season as they started the Christmas period with victory over Grimsby Town at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
The visitors came into the game on the back of a four game unbeaten run, but they left without raising a whimper, never seriously threatening a Town back-line who kept their 11th clean sheet of the season in the league, making it seven wins out of eight in all competitions too.
Although the Mariners were eager competitors, the sheer gulf in class was there to see, as Luton easily handled their opponents, Marek Stech barely tested throughout, while you always felt Town had another gear to go if they really needed.
Boss Nathan Jones made two changes to the side, with James Justin replacing the suspended Jack Stacey and James Collins in for Elliot Lee who dropped to the bench.
The hosts made a bright start to proceedings, Olly Lee going close after some excellent penalty box control, his angled shot cleared away by a posse of desperate defenders.
Luton looked to be at their free-flowing best in the early stages too, displaying some lovely one and two touch passing, although they couldn't quite break down a dogged visiting defence.
The visitors got a slight foothold, Luke Summerfield's spectacular strike not too far away, with Luton as usual, always looked menacing from corners.
Johnny Mullins showed an amazing leap to win another Alan Sheehan delivery, allowing Collins to unleash a volley which was deflected behind for another corner, Potts seeing his header punched over the top by McKeown too.
Despite dominating, it took Town a good 33 minutes to have their first proper opening, Olly Lee picking out Justin and his low cross was half volleyed over the top by Collins.
However, Town then took the lead in stunning fashion, as Luke Berry added to the plethora of wonderful goals witnessed at Kenilworth Road this season.
Found by Collins' lay-off, he had the space to size up an effort and size it up he did, unleashing a sublime curling effort beyond a surprisingly motionless McKeown and into the far corner for an almost mirror image of his hat-trick strike against Stevenage.
In the second period, Hylton was narrowly wide from just outside the box with McKeown scrambling across.
Grimsby responded with Jamille Matt striking the outside of the post from a tight angle, while Sam Jones then had an effort blocked by the back-pedalling Mullins as the Mariners had what could just about be described as a spell of pressure.
However, as they have proved so capable of doing this season, Luton took the sting out any real threat to their lead, with Sheehan's perfect free kick finding Collins to bury a header into the bottom corner and reach double figures for the campaign.
From there, Luton were in cruise control, keeping Grimsby at arms length for the final half hour, as the hosts could even conserve some energy for the busy festive period ahead of them.
Harry Cornick and Elliot Lee were introduced to ensure the visitors were pegged back and the pair did just that.
The substitutions enabled Town to finish strongly too, something they have become masters at this term, with Olly Lee denied by the shins of McKeown, Cornick producing a glorious backheel and toepoke that went agonisingly wide, and finally Elliot Lee turning the defence inside and out, forcing McKeown into a fine stop.
Results elsewhere couldn't have gone much better either, as despite Notts County fighting back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at home to Cambridge, Luton now lead their rivals by four points.
More importantly, none of the chasing pack could usurp Coventry in fourth place either, meaning that at the half way stage, Luton have what is surely a commanding 10 point lead above that crucial dotted line ahead of their trip to Swindon Town on Boxing Day.
Hatters: Marek Stech, Jack Justin, Dan Potts, Johnny Mullins, Alan Sheehan (C), Glen Rea, Olly Lee , Luke Berry, Andrew Shinnie (Harry Cornick 72), James Collins (Elliot Lee 83), Danny Hylton (Lawson D'Ath 90).
Subs not used: James Shea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Akin Famewo, Luke Gambin.
Grimsby: James McKeown, Ben Davis, Nathan Clarke (C), Danny Collins, Mitch Rose, Sam Jones, Zak Mills, Luke Summerfield, Diallang Jaiyesimi (JJ Hooper 66), Siriki Dembele (Martyn Woolford 83), Jamille Matt (Scott Vernon 75).
Subs not used: Paul Dixon, James Berrett, Karleigh Osborne, Ben Killip.
Booked: Clarke 19, Shinnie 38, McKeown 57.
Referee: Christopher Sarginson.
Attendance: 9,102 (446 Grimsby).
Hatters MOM: James Collins. Back with a bang as he set up one and scored one.