NATHAN TIPS HAT TO SIDE’S STRENGTH
NATHAN Jones hailed an “immense” display from Luton after they overcame the dual setbacks of going a goal and a man down to triumph.
Jack Marriott cancelled out Ryan Lowe’s opener for the hosts, with Jake Gray snatching the winner after the Hatters weathered a storm following Alan Sheehan’s second-half dismissal.
The win saw the Hatters move into the play-off spots, much to the delight of their 995 travelling supporters, and boss Jones.
“The sending off gave others an opportunity to show how immense we can be as a team,” Jones enthused.
“We defended unbelievably well. We worked hard, and we pressed in the right areas. People went above and beyond.”
David Artell replaced Steve Davis at Gresty Road this week, and the hosts began brightly under their new manager. They cashed in on their positive start on 28 minutes when Alex Kiwomya’s defencesplitting ball found Lowe just left of goal. The veteran striker seized the moment with typical composure, taking a touch before stroking the ball into the far corner.
But Marriott had been a persistent menace at the other end, having already drawn two good saves from Ben Garratt in the Crewe goal. And his persistence was rewarded in the dying moments of the half, when he spun onto strike partner Danny Hylton’s flick-on to fire a powerful low effort at Garratt, with the ball squirming through the keeper’s legs and into the back of the net. A rash late challenge from Sheehan saw him dismissed for a second booking seven minutes after the restart, and hosts Crewe used their man advantage to dominate the next 15 minutes.
But when the Hatters finally managed to mount an attack, Hylton did superbly to reach the byline inside the box before pulling back for Gray to sidefoot home from close range.
And Hatters boss Jones reserved his most fulsome praise for his strike duo:
“Danny put in a shift that was just monumental again, and if Jack was scoring with every shot, at this point in time, he wouldn’t be playing for us,” said Jones. “He’s a threat, he’s got a low centre of gravity, and he’s always looking to get in beyond.
“When they’re at it, he and Danny are as good a partnership as you’ll see.”
New Railwaymen boss Artel saw positives in his side’s first-half display, but admitted that they are psychologically vulnerable after their recent poor run.
“For the first 40 minutes, we were the better team against a side going for the play-offs,” he said. “We have to amend it a little bit because we can’t keep that intensity up.
“They’re fragile. It was two points from the last 21 available before this, and if we concede a goal we’re a bit like a deck of cards at the minute.
“Winning is a habit, and losing is a habit, and we’ve got to crack it, otherwise
GRAY’S DAY: Luton goalscorer Jake Gray hits the winner. Inset: New Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell STAR MAN JACK MARRIOTT Luton