The Hatters secured a vital win at relegation-threatened Gainsborough, courtesy of a second-half penalty by leading scorer Danny Lloyd that lifted them back to within goal difference of the play-off positions.
County took to the field against the ‘Holy Blues’ with the same 4-3-3 formation that had operated at Edgeley Park against Nuneaton seven days earlier – albeit showing one change in personnel.
Kaine Felix joined the front line in place of central defender Chris Smalley, who was ruled out with a fractured foot.
The bench featured two returning players – with Max Cartwright having been recalled earlier in the week from his successful loan at Ashton United, and Josh Amis now recovered after sustaining an ankle injury.
On a glorious mid-April afternoon, the Hatters enjoyed the greater share of early possession.
They also twice tested home goalkeeper Tom Nicholson, a loanee from play-off rivals Halifax, who parried around his left upright Lloyd’s low drive from the edge of the box and blocked an attempt by Sefton Gonzales at close range.
But for much of the first half’s latter stages, the contest turned into a rather flat affair – with the hosts offering in attack little more than a shot from captain Nathan Jarman blocked by Michael Clarke several yards out, and another by Chib Chilaka that cleared not only County’s goal but also the stand behind it.
The Hatters got the break that they – and, in truth, the game – badly needed just over 10 minutes after the break, when Connor Hampson was felled in the home area by Ioan Evans.
Lloyd duly stepped up to convert a second penalty in as many matches – blasting the spot-kick to Nicholson’s left – for his 20th league goal of the campaign and his 27th in all competitions.
County’s victory was the club’s third in four visits and was achieved in the face of little attacking threat from the hosts who could not muster an attempt on target throughout the contest.
FULL-TIME: Gainsborough 0, County 1 (Lloyd penalty 57).
County: Hinchliffe, Minihan, Hampson, Montrose, Clarke, Ross (Capt.), Felix (Meppen-Walters, 78), Winter, Gonzales (Amis, 70), Ball, Lloyd. Unused Subs: Cartwright, Ormson, Odejayi.
Attendance: 851 (367 representing The Twelfth Man).