A brilliant hat-trick from Paul Moody left Luton Town’s aims of containing big-spending Fulham in tatters at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.

One of Micky Adams’ bargain buys after Fulham went up from the Third Division has been a regular thorn in the side of Second Division sides this season and, despite not being a regular in the starting line-up when Ray Wilkins took charge, the tall striker has now scored seven goal in five matches to put real momentum behind the Cottagers’ push for promotion.

The former Oxford forward demonstrated just how devastating he can be by firing Fulham in front in the very first minute. He latched onto a kick from goalkeeper Maik Taylor, streaking clear of the Hatters defence and finished clinically past Andy Feuer after reaching the penalty area. Moody made it two eight minutes before the break when he headed in Paul Bracewell’s cross from five yards out after a lovely move along the right flank involving Alain Neilson and Kyle Lightbourne.

Tony Thorpe did give the home side hope with a predatory finish just before the break, but the visitors restored their two-goal cushion eleven minutes into the second half when Steve Davis handled Paul Trollope’s and referee Scott Mathieson pointed to the spot. Moody rifled home his third of an excellent afternoon from twelve yards before turning provider by playing in a rampaging Matt Lawrence and the left back’s low cross was turned in by Steve Hayward to complete the rout.

A delighted Wilkins admitted his players knew the significance of this comprehensive victory afterwards:

“Our confidence is high and in the dressing room afterwards the atmosphere was just as though we had won a Cup final.”

LUTON TOWN (4-4-2): Feuer; White (Davies 5), Alexander, Davis, Thomas; Waddock, McClaren, Oldfield, Allen; Thorpe, Patterson. Subs (not used): Evers, Marshall.

GOAL: Thorpe (43).

FULHAM (4-3-3): Taylor; Smith, Lawrence, Neilson, Coleman; Bracewell, Hayward, Trollope; Peschisolido (W. Collins 57), Moody, Lightbourne (Freeman 83). Subs (not used): Blake.

BOOKED: Hayward.

GOALS: Moody (1, 37, pen 56), Hayward (61).

REFEREE: Scott Mathieson (Chester).