Dominant Hatters romp to victory against 'the best side in the league'
League One: Luton Town 4 Doncaster Rovers 0
Luton Town produced an utterly dominant performance to firmly shove Doncaster winger Matty Blair's words back down his throat with a scintillating 4-0 win at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
The Rovers wideman had made some baffling comments in the press ahead of the game, stating his side were the 'best team in the league' whereas table-topping Luton were just the 'most consistent'.
However, after witnessing 90 minutes of virtually complete control from the Hatters, in which they scored four times, had 29 attempts on goal, moved five points clear at the top, extending their unbeaten run to 26 Football League games, he must have wished he kept his mouth shut.
Luton had seen the pressure ramped up before the game, with nearest rivals Barnsley closing the gap to just two points courtesy of a last-minute winner at Walsall.
Town boss Mick Harford made two changes to his side, Dan Potts in for his first league start since October 20, James Justin moving into midfield, as Luke Berry dropped to the bench, while Kazenga LuaLua replaced James Collins, on international duty with Ireland.
The visitors had the first attempt of note on seven minutes, Mallik Wilks going between Potts and Justin, his low shot easy for James Shea.
Luton's set-pieces were causing problems in the early stages, Justin pinging a flat delivery into the area, an unmarked Potts nodding off target.
Potts' afternoon then came to an unfortunate and premature end after just 22 minutes, landing awkwardly following an aerial challenge, jarring his knee, and despite trying to play on, had to concede defeat, Berry on and Justin returning to full back.
Marquis gave further notice of his predatory instincts, taking a cross on his chest but seeing his effort deflect into Shea's gloves.
That was pretty much as good as it got for the visitors though, with corners Luton's most likely avenue in the opening half hour, Justin finding Berry whose downward header was straight at Marko Marosi.
Elliot Lee blasted wildly over, before Hatters started to crank up the pressure, LuaLua producing some audacious skill to spin away from his man and drill a shot that Marosi parried away.
There was no stopping Town on 33 minutes though, with LuaLua heavily involved once more.
His backheel found Mpanzu some 20 yards from goal, and the midfielder simply sidefooted beyond Marosi and into the bottom corner for his third goal of the season.
Hylton almost added a quickfire second, his shot from Lee's low cross ending up going away from goal, while he then tried to turn another Lee delivery in with his foot, when using his head appeared the best option.
The striker dragged across goal from LuaLua's pass as Town finished the first half strongly, while Hylton was Town's main outlet at the start of the second period, his header from Shinnie's cross hitting the outside of the post.
After seeing Gillingham peg them back twice last week to earn a point, a second goal for Town was absolutely crucial this time and they got it on 58 minutes.
Full back turned flying winger Jack Stacey did superbly well to beat three men on the right, cutting into the box, his cross picked up by Berry at the far post.
The midfielder's low shot looked destined to hit the net, but with Rovers having a man on the line, Hylton made sure, prodding home from yard out to make it three in three home matches.
Boosted by the strike, Town began with playing with a real swagger, Shinnie close to a third, as he fired goalwards after a lovely team interchange, Marosi clawing away, while Stacey went alone, thundering over on his left foot.
Sonny Bradley headed wide from a corner, while still Town attacked, in no way settling for 2-0, as the magical LuaLua escaped his markers on the left once more, crossing for Lee, who from eight yards out hit the underside of the bar.
Hylton turned in LuaLua's cross-shot only to be flagged offside, while the forward then tried to set up his striker partner, just eluding his dive.
The shots continued raining in on Marosi's goal, as he parried Lee's rasping attempt up into the air, the ball coming down with snow on to hit the bar and go behind.
To their great credit, Town didn't for one second look content with that they had either, hunting a goal down as if their lives depended it.
Time and time again they sent wave of attacks at the visitors' goal, Hylton only denied a second by Paul Downing's last-gasp block.
Mpanzu fired at Marosi from 30 yards, but it was 3-0 with eight to go, LuaLua getting the goal his performance thoroughly deserved.
A rampant Stacey tore down the middle of the pitch, timing his pass to release the hugely popular LuaLua, who took a touch and then slid the ball past Marosi, before unleashing his trademark acrobatic celebration.
There was no stopping at three either – sub Harry Cornick bursting clear, only to shoot straight at Marosi's legs, but Luton had a fourth in stoppage time.
Winning the ball back high up, Berry motored forward and with no-one up in support, opted to try his luck from 20 yards, cracking an effort beyond the hapless Marosi.
The result saw Town move five points clear of Barnsley once more, with just seven games to go, while they moved 10 points in front of non-playing Sunderland, who were leapfrogged into third by Portsmouth, the south coast team nine adrift of Luton.
Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, Dan Potts (Luke Berry 22), Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley (C), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, James Justin, Andrew Shinnie, Elliot Lee, Kazenga LuaLua (Jason Cummings 86), Danny Hylton (Harry Cornick 79).
Subs not used: Harry Isted, Alan Sheehan, George Thorne, George Moncur.
Rovers: Marko Marosi, Danny Andrew, Andrew Butler, Mallik Wilks (Tyler Smith 63), John Marquis, Tommy Rowe (C, Kieran Sadlier 63), Ali Crawford, Matty Blair, James Coppinger, Paul Downing, Aaron Lewis (Lirak Hasani 73).
Subs not used: Tom Anderson, Alfie Beestin, Alfie May, Louis Jones.
Booked: Lewis 10, Blair 45, Mpanzu 68, Coppinger 78.
Referee: John Busby.
Attendance: 10,071 (544 Rovers).