Confident Hatters ease to Daggers victory

Pre-season friendlyLuton Town 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 0

Saturday, 27th July 2013, 5:56 pm

Town boss John Still masterminded a thoroughly comprehensive victory over former club Dagenham & Redbridge at Kenilworth Road this afternoon, writes Mike Simmonds.

The result was never seriously in doubt after Mark Cullen had opened the scoring in the opening minutes, as Luton coasted at times against their League Two opponents, whom Still had left for Hatters in February after nine years in charge.

Still had picked another strong starting eleven as he honed his preparation for the new campaign, although opted for a 4-3-3 formation this time, with Cullen the focal point, Jon Shaw just behind and Andre Gray employed wide on the right.

Alex Lacey, who got another 90 minutes, once again captained the team alongside Anthony Charles, with Jonathan Smith right back, as Matt Robinson began in midfield.

It took just three minutes for Town to move ahead too as Robinson fed the ball to the onrushing Scott Griffiths, another playing against his former side. He looked up and swung over the perfect cross for Cullen to rise highest and head past the retreating Chris Lewington.

Hatters continued to look the more cohesive as Gray sent a shot with the outside of his boot straight at the keeper.

Daggers had rarely threatened until Rhys Murphy blazed over from a decent position, before Mark Tyler had to come racing out of his goal to clear from Josh Scott.

Cullen showed his aerial threat again once more, after some neat build up, heading Smith’s cross over, with the full back delivering for Shaw to also nod narrowly off target.

Daggers came within inches of an equaliser as Luke Howell’s low shot was superbly blocked by the sliding Robinson, with Gavin Hoyte’s follow up blast from 20 yards deflected just wide of a wrong-footed Tyler.

Goalscorer Cullen was forced off the field with a knock on 37 minutes and his replacement Shaun Whalley showed his intent immediately, driving forward and shooting at Lewington.

The substitute then displayed his creative side, sending Gray clear, who slid wide of the target.

Neither side made a change at the break and Daggers were denied a leveller by the post as Scott Doe’s back post header flicked off Robinson on the line and away via the woodwork.

Lacey showed once again the progression he has made in pre-season, with a vital intervention to clear the danger, before Town made a mass of changes with the likes of David Martin and Steve McNulty coming on.

The visitors were close once more on 57 minutes as Murphy’s dinked free kick was marginally over, but Luton extended their lead shortly afterwards.

Winning their first corner of the game, Howells’ swung over the set-piece, where Lacey, ion splendid isolation, powered a downward header through Lewington and into the net.

Daggers made some replacements of their own, with one, Jake Reed, sending an effort just past Tyler’s post after a neat turn in the box.

Hatters started to turn the screw late on though as Solomon Taiwo’s raking crossfield pass was instantly controlled by Whalley. He sped at his marker and as Daggers’ defence parted in front of him, coolly sidefooted into the bottom corner.

That was the knock out blow as Town comfortably saw out the closing stages, registering another clean sheet in the process, to make it four wins from four.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Jonathan Smith (Ronnie Henry 71), Scott Griffiths, Anthony Charles (Steve McNulty 58), Matt Robinson (Andrew Parry 58), Andre Gray (Alex Wall 58), Mark Cullen (Shaun Whalley 37), Jon Shaw (David Martin 58), Jake Howells (JJ O’Donnell 78), Alex Lacey (C), Luke Guttridge (Solomon Taiwo 58).

Subs not used: Craig King, Jim Stevenson.

Daggers: Chris Lewington, Jack Connors (Femi Ilesanmi 63), Scott Doe, Brian Saah, Billy Bingham (Medy Elito 63), Abu Ogogo, Rhys Murphy (Brian Woodall 75), Josh Scott (Louis Dennis 75), Affy Obafemi (Jake Reed 63), Luke Howell, Gavin Hoyte.

Subs not used: Sean Shields, Ian Gayle, Jordan Seabright.

Attendance: 1,508 (Daggers 63).