Howard's way steers Luton back to top

Torquay United 1 Luton Town 4
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The Independent Online

Luton Town returned to the top of League One, beating brave Torquay United at Plainmoor with a commanding performance and reminding rivals Hull City that the battle for the title will continue to the end.

Luton Town returned to the top of League One, beating brave Torquay United at Plainmoor with a commanding performance and reminding rivals Hull City that the battle for the title will continue to the end.

Mike Newell, on the verge of guiding his side to promotion in only his second season at Kenilworth Road, was pleased that Luton had found their way after allowing Hull to edge past them over the Easter weekend.

"I am delighted with the performance, especially after the disappointment of losing the lead in the league," said Newell. "It was not the start we wanted but I always felt we were in control. It is all about what we do until the end of the season and I see us finishing well if we keep our heads."

Just five minutes in, however, Torquayexposed the visitors' frailty. Adebayo Akinfenwa scored his 13th goal of the season after Jo Kuffour's shot was only parried by Luton goalkeeper Marlon Beresford as the relegation-threatened side took a shock lead.

Unperturbed by the early setback, Luton edged their way into the game on 22 minutes, captain Kevin Nicholls firing home from short range after Steve Howard's powerful header was well saved by Torquay goalkeeper Andy Marriott.

Luton took the lead on the half-hour, Peter Holmes slotting home from near the penalty spot after Kevin Foley picked him out with a neat pass.

Howard forced home again on 50 minutes, before the striker's momentum saw him rip the net for good measure.

Torquay manager Leroy Rosenior looked dismayed as he saw his players struggle to cope with a Luton side brimming with purpose and industry, although the hosts were handed a lifeline with half an hour remaining, but Akinfenwa's penalty was saved athletically by Beresford.

With the Torquay defence in disarray, Rowan Vine sealed the points on 71 minutes after he read a dummy from Howard to convert Ahmet Brkovic's cross.

Torquay United: Marriott; Canoville (Constantine, 69), Woods, Taylor, Woodman; Bedeau (Phillips, 46), Russell, Hill, Brown; Akinfenwa, Kuffour (Garner, 54). Substitutes not used: Villis, Abbey.

Luton Town: Beresford; Foley, Perrett, Davies, Davis; Brkovic, Holmes, Nicholls, Underwood (Mansell, 72); Vine, Howard. Substitutes not used: Seremet, Hillier, Leary, Andrew.

Referee: R Oliver (West Midlands).

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