The Hatters’ second home match of the week saw them bounce back to edge out in-form Yeovil, thanks to Alex Reid’s 13th goal of the season midway through the first half.
The victory propelled County back up to third place, while the visitors finished the match with 10 men after skipper Lee Collins was dismissed in the dying seconds.
County took to the field for a tea-time kick-off to accommodate live television coverage, and showing four changes from the starting line-up against Sutton four days earlier. Richie Bennett, Ash Palmer, Jamie Stott and Jordan Williams were recalled, in place of Sam Minihan, Lois Maynard and Jordan Keane – all of whom were named among the substitutes – as well as the injured Mark Kitching. Captain Liam Hogan was happily able to keep the armband, following the revocation of his sending-off from Tuesday night.
Former County talisman Matty Warburton, who was at Yeovil for a season-long loan from Northampton and had netted for the ‘Glovers’ in the FA Cup Second Round tie at Edgeley Park just over two months previously, was included on their bench.
A free-kick for the Hatters from the left led to their, and the game’s, first chance with just over two minutes on the clock. Hogan’s head connected with the delivery from John Rooney, but the skipper’s effort was comfortably caught by goalkeeper Adam Smith.
Smith subsequently held on with some ease to another Rooney free-kick, before Williams drilled narrowly shy of the left post, and Hogan headed beyond the opposite upright following County’s inaugural corner of the early evening.
The visitors had to wait past the quarter-hour mark before having sight of the Hatters’ goal, when Joe Quigley volleyed into the far side-netting from Michael Kelly’s free-kick on the left. But County’s next opportunity, just after the half’s midway-point, was far more decisive – as Reid brought a long clearance by Ben Hinchliffe under control, and slotted calmly past Smith to put the Hatters ahead.
Yeovil initially responded, courtesy of a well-struck half-volley by Kelly from outside the County box that Hinchliffe did well to parry. And Josh Neufville cut in from the right, but blasted his shot well high and wide of the goal’s far side.
A left-footed, first-time shot from Williams cleared the crossbar at the other end during the latter stages, before Alex Bradley’s low shot was smothered by Hinchliffe at full stretch in added time.
HALF-TIME: County 1 (Reid, 24), Yeovil 0.
Connor Jennings had a shot blocked shortly after the resumption – whilst Albi Skendi fashioned the first chance for the Glovers, as he fired over after cutting in on the right, and Reid then did likewise from the left flank at the opposite end.
Cometh the hour, cometh the corners – as County earned three of them within as many minutes, and Jennings fired over from close range following the third, before the visitors won a couple of their own in quick succession, delivered by the recently-introduced Warburton with a little over 20 minutes remaining.
Yeovil, spurred on by their attacking substitutions, continued to press, and Hinchliffe did well to hold on to a powerful Max Hunt header from a free-kick. But the Hatters’ first change also came close to paying dividends, when the newly-arrived Minihan floated a ball to Bennett who headed just over.
Bennett went close again with his head, with Smith arching back to palm behind the striker’s looping attempt – before Hogan nodded a Rooney corner from the left past the far upright.
The contest ended with a touch of late drama, when Collins, in the final minute of added time, launched a late tackle on Man of the Match Macualey Southam-Hales, and was shown a straight red card.
FULL-TIME: County 1 (Reid, 24), Yeovil 0.
Team (4-4-2): Hinchliffe; Southam-Hales, Palmer, Hogan (Capt.), Stott; Williams (Minihan, 75), Croasdale, Rooney, C. Jennings; Bennett, Reid (J. Jennings, 86).
Unused Subs: Maynard, Thomas, Barnes.
Man of the Match: Southam-Hales.
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.