Fast start sees Hatters ease to a Pools win

Danny Hylton tucks home the first goal against Hartlepool
Danny Hylton tucks home the first goal against Hartlepool

League Two: Luton Town 3 Hartlepool United 0

Luton Town made it back-to-back home wins with a comfortable 3-0 victory over struggling Hartlepool this evening, although it could and really should have been oh so many more.

With the Hatters racing into a 2-0 lead after just 12 minutes, many in attendance sat back expecting to witness a Valentines Day massacre with the floodgates bursting open.

Alas, that never looked like happening, as Town went on to huff and puff for large periods against what at times was a desperately poor visiting side, until Ollie Palmer came off the bench to wrap up victory in the closing stages.

However, after failing to take advantage of home matches against the division's so-called weaker opponents, most notably Cheltenham a fortnight ago, then Luton will quite rightly be delighted by the ease they picked up all three points ahead of a trip to leaders Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.

They couldn't gain any further ground on third placed Carlisle, who defeated the table-toppers 2-1 to maintain their three point gap, but with second-placed Plymouth beaten at home by Leyton Orient, it brought the top two ever so slightly into sight once more.

Town chief Nathan Jones made three changes to his side, surprisingly dropping captain Scott Cuthbert to the bench, where he was joined by Jonathan Smith, with Jordan Cook failing to recover from his neck injury in time.

That meant Johnny Mullins returned from suspension, while Lawson D'Ath came in for his full home debut as Luke Gambin started too.

Hatters set about getting the early goal that they have so craved this season, taking the lead on just five minutes with a lovely clipped ball by Gambin releasing Danny Hylton who chested down and easily beat Joe Fryer for his 18th of the season.

The hosts almost doubled up their lead on 10 minutes, when Gambin won a free kick and Alan Sheehan nearly beat Fryer at his near post, his low effort brilliantly tipped away.

However, the second wasn't too long in arriving, as a long ball forward wasn't dealt with by the Pools defence, allowing Gambin to pick possession up, advance into the area and fire into the bottom corner, netting his first goal for the club.

Hylton looked for number 19 shortly afterwards, denied by Fryer, as the only problem Town looked to have was complacency, such was the grip they had on proceedings.

It almost cost them on the half hour, when Sheehan was caught in possession, with the visitors winning a corner that Scott Harrison headed narrowly wide of the target.

Happy to still be in the game at the break, Pools started the second period like the team with the two-goal lead knocking the ball around as Hatters were caught in a slumber for the opening five minutes.

Hylton almost woke them up, doing superbly to beat two in the area with drag backs, but faced with just Fryer, lifted his shot over the bar on 53 minutes.

Now wide awake once more, Hylton set Isaac Vassell away and although the angle was against him, he forced the on-loan Middlesbrough stopper into a decent stop low down.

But Pools weren't without a threat at times, Michael Woods shooting narrowly over the bar, as they definitely improved from being considerably the worst team to visit Kenilworth Road in the opening period.

Despite a brief surge, Town just couldn't get back into top gear, too often the final ball letting them down, as Fryer was to enjoy a far easier evening then he could ever have expected after 12 minutes.

The addition of Palmer and Jack Marriott from the bench for the final quarter of an hour changed that though, with Palmer robbing Scott Harrison on the touchline and after trying to pick out Gambin, saw the ball fortuitously ricochet into his path to open his Town account.

Palmer almost had a second, winning another lost cause and then trying to catch out Fryer, the keeper repelling the danger, and he also sprang to his left to deny Marriott a fourth late on as well.

Hatters: Matt Macey, Stephen O'Donnell, Jack Senior, Johnny Mullins, Alan Sheehan (C), Glen Rea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Lawson D'Ath (Jonathan Smith 66), Luke Gambin, Isaac Vassell (Jack Marriott 73), Danny Hylton (Ollie Palmer 73).

Subs not used: Craig King, Jake Gray, Scott Cuthbert, James Justin.

Pools: Joe Fryer, Nicky Featherstone (C), Matthew Bates (Lewis Alessandra 14), Nathan Thomas, Brad Walker, Rhys Oates, Michael Woods, Andrew Nelson (Padraig Amond 61), Scott Harrison, Kenton Richardson, Sean Kavanagh.

Subs not used: Adam Bartlett, Lewis Hawkins, Louis Rooney, James Martin, Josh Hawkes.

Booked: Thomas 42, Richardson 45, Rea 60, Woods 84.

Attendance: 6,965 (90 Pools).

Referee: John Brooks.

Star Hatter: Jack Senior. Whole-hearted display from the first minute.