What a difference a year makes for table-topping Town

Key contributions at both ends of the pitch were vital to Luton’s 2-1 victory at Macclesfield Town on Tuesday night, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 13th February 2014, 10:00 am
Luton Town v Macclesfield Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 07.
Luton Town v Macclesfield Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 07.

Hotshot striker Andre Gray netted twice on the night, while veteran keeper Mark Tyler pulled off three vital saves in the second half to see the Hatters home.

It also showed what a difference a year can make as Town were held to 1-1 draw at Macclesfield Town in the first game following former boss Paul Buckle’s shock departure 12 months earlier.

Gray was also on target that night as Luton were unable to defeat 10-man Silkmen with an outfield player in goal after their keeper had been sent off.

The striker said: “I think we showed tonight the quality, we’ve got a lot more grit and determination. As you can see in the last 10 minutes, we needed Tyles and Macca (Steve McNulty) and (Fraser) Fraser and Ronnie (Henry) and Scotty (Griffiths) and they produced as they had done all season.

“It was a very nervy last five minutes I think as they had a few corners, but that’s what they’re there to do and they’re fantastic at doing it and they kept us in the game.”

It was very different at the Moss Rose this time around as Gray struck twice to take him to 19 goals for the season.

He said: “I wouldn’t say great form, I had a beast today, but I’m not really bothered how I played today, we won and it didn’t matter who scored as long as we got the win and we did that.”

Gray admitted the first goal had been a bit of a cross-shot, saying: “It was a bit of both. It was just a matter of putting it in that area and I think I did something quite similar, although not that similar, against Aldershot and it went in.

“If you put it in that area, the keeper, I don’t know if he’s tried to put it over the bar, he’s got a little touch on it and it’s dropped in fortunately, and they all count.”

And on the second, he continued: “It’s just dropped to me and it was just a case of turning and getting a shot in. I didn’t hit it as clean as I would have liked, but I think maybe if I hit it cleanly he saves it, it’s just dropped under him and gone in and luckily it was quite late on, so it was a matter of us hanging in there and coming out with the three points.”

Gray and debutant midfielder Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu also missed one-on-one chances, but Gray felt his chance bobbled at an inopportune moment.

He said: “I’ll have to watch the DVD back, but I believe it shot up just as I was about to hit it and it’s come off my ankle. I composed myself and I knew what I was trying to do, I was just trying to slot it, I wasn’t trying to smash it, and as I tried to side-foot it it’s hit my ankle because it shot up right at the last second.

“It was questionable whether that was the chance we needed to score, but obviously it wasn’t and it dropped to me a second time and I scored.”

Tyler’s contribution at the other end was no less vital, denying Scott Boden with a brilliant save low to his left before twice saving from striker Chris Holroyd at the death as Town hung on.

He said: “You’ve got to be on your mettle for 90 minutes. You could have to make a save in the 95th-minute and it wins you the game, so your concentration has to be on top for the whole game. I think it’s what lacks in a few keepers nowadays.

“But I’m delighted to make the saves and keep our run going, but I thought Macclesfield were probably the best side we’ve played this year. They threw balls into the box and the boys in front did magnificent.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, they’ve got a great record at home, but we’re on a good run at the moment. It’s a shame we haven’t played more games than we have, but obviously the weather has been the problem, but we’ve been training hard every day.

“We haven’t slacked off one bit in training. We’ve been in on the Saturday and it’s taken us a little time to get going, but all in all, I made a few saves at the end, but the boys in front of me were magnificent as well. The amount of blocks they’ve made and it’s a good three points for us.”

Debutant defender Fraser Franks hailed Tyler’s late heroics, as he enthused: “He’s pulled off one of the best saves I’ve ever seen down to his left.

“When it comes down to it you need people like that behind you because if it does come through they’ve got to beat him as well.”

Tyler also praised the efforts of his defenders on the night as well as revealing what he felt was his best stop.

He added: “The first save was the best tonight. I got lucky with the third one really because it should have come off my foot, but my foot was somehow above the ground and I stopped it with my arm.

“They’re dangerous, they put lots of balls in the box here, I thought Fraser and Macca (Steve McNulty) were magnificent in front of me, Scotty’s (Griffiths) playing out of his skin at the moment and Ronnie (Henry) is Mr Dependable all of the time. So we’ve got a settled back four, that’s why the gaffer brought Fraser in and hopefully we’ll kick on and put in a bit more of a gap between us and Cambridge on Saturday.”