YOUNG centre back Craig Dalton netted the winner as Louth Town won 3-2 in a pulsating affair with Shirebrook Town at Park Avenue on Saturday.
Town had found themselves 2-1 down after going ahead through Jason Flint’s early goal, but a Steve Norton penalty and Dalton’s late volley moved Town up to ninth after four successive wins.
Manager Paul Walden made six changes to the team that won 2-1 at strugglers Askern Villa in midweek as the White Wolves looked to continue their excellent recent form against the side that had knocked them out in the cup semi-final just three weeks earlier.
It was the visitors who started the better though but Town’s defensive line held firm in the early stages.
But Town drew first blood on 12 minutes when Jason Flint collected the ball and turned sharply to hit a snap shot past goalkeeper Mark Frost and into the corner of the goal.
Louth were looking comfortable after the goal against the 15th placed side and came within inches of doubling their lead when Mark Wood’s inviting free kick was met by Flint who shot wide from six yards.
The visitors were dangerous from set pieces but struggled to create anything of note from open play.
Town’s top scorer Steve Norton tried the spectacular when he struck a volley from 20 yards which dipped just over before sloppy play by defender McLane let in Matt Kennedy who fired wide.
Kennedy had another chance just before the break when he cut into the box and tried to bend the ball into the far corner but ‘keeper Frost got a firm hand to it.
The visitors from Mansfield returned a different side after half time and hauled themselves level within a minute.
Town skipper Carl Martin was perhaps harshly adjudged to have handled in the box as the ball cannoned into his arm and the referee pointed to the spot.
Town boss Paul Walden was sent to the stands for his protests but striker Julian Topliss held his nerve and smashed home his 19th of the season past Craig Wherry to make it 1-1.
The game turned on its head just seven minutes later when Shirebrook took the lead. Striker Pete Stubley broke the offside trap and Carl Martin’s tackle trickled back to the frontman who reacted first to stab home.
Louth went straight back on the attack in search for the equaliser and nearly got back level when Flint turned two defenders before hitting a deflected shot which forced Frost into an excellent reflex save.
But on 70 minutes Town equalised when Kennedy was bundled over in the box by Topliss. The ever reliable Steve Norton dispatched what was also his 19th of the season to make it 2-2.
Shirebrook had a great chance when Jackson found space in the box but Wherry made a good save before Briggs breezed past Mark Wood and fired just wide.
The game could have gone either way at this point but Town found the winner when young defender Craig Dalton, playing only his seventh game for the first team, smashed a loose ball home on the half-volley to make it 3-2.
Town sensibly saw out the final ten minutes to move up another place to ninth in the league table, just four points off sixth with four games remaining.
The White Wolves will look to make it a fifth win on the bounce when they visit 11th placed AFC Emley on Saturday (3pm) before hosting Hallam FC at Park Avenue on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm).