League Two: Luton Town 1 Morecambe 0
A moment of clinical opportunism from Hatters striker Jack Marriott saw Luton make it three victories in a row and back to back home wins at Kenilworth Road last night.
With 14 minutes to go, it looked like Town were going to suffer further home frustration, before Marriott escaped his markers to reach Paddy McCourt’s through ball and slide an effort under keeper Barry Roche for his 11th goal of the campaign.
That was enough to defeat a free falling Morecambe side who have now lost eight of their last nine matches and keep alive Luton’s slim hopes of a play-off place this term.
Town boss Nathan Jones made three changes to the side who beat York on Saturday, with Jonathan Smith, McCourt and Craig Mackail-Smith coming in for Alex Lawless, Danny Green and Joe Pigott.
McCourt tried to get Luton on the front foot immediately as he fed Stephen O’Donnell whose cross was met by Marriott, his header easy for Roche.
Centre half Alan Sheehan was then off target with his curling outside of the boot effort, before Morecambe went close, Aaron Wildig’s shot deflected narrowly wide.
Town continued prodding and poking, but were unable to land a knock out blow, Jake Howells sending Marriott away but his cross was cleared away from almost on the goal-line by Chris Doyle.
Despite their monopoly on possession, it was Tyler who was the busier keeper in the first half, saving well from Kevin Ellison’s sharp turn and shot.
Luton were inches away from the first goal on 42 minutes when McCourt and McGeehan combined well to slip in Marriott whose touch took him wide, before shooting narrowly past the post.
With the scores goalless at the break, it meant Hatters failed to score at home for the sixth game running in the first half, Paul Benson’s effort against Northampton on December 12 the last time they were on target before the interval.
After the break, Luton made a bright start, as McCourt’s marvellous hooked pass drew gasps of admiration from the home faithful, but the finish was lacking with Mackail-Smith failing to lift his toe-poke over Roche.
Jamie Devitt thundered over the top, before McCourt flashed in a shot that deflected just off target.
With 20 minutes to go, Luton began to show more urgency, O’Donnell’s drive flicked behind by Roche.
On 76 minutes, the deadlock was eventually broken as Marriott pounced from close range as Morecambe looked in vain for an offside flag.
Although McCourt had an effort parried by Roche, once Luton had the lead though, it was the Shrimps who got the bit between their teeth and they could have levelled.
First Sheehan made a vital intervention, before, in stoppage time, Ryan Edwards popped at the back bost, only to direct his header over.
However, Luton held on to register another crucial three points ahead of a trip to seventh-placed Leyton Orient this weekend.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Stephen O’Donnell, Jake Howells, Scott Cuthbert (C), Alan Sheehan, Jonathan Smith, Olly Lee, Cameron McGeehan, Paddy McCourt (Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu 90), Jack Marriott, Craig Mackail-Smith.
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Paul Benson, Magnus Okuonghae, Joe Pigott, Danny Green, Alex Lawless.
Shrimps: Barry Roche, Shaun Beeley (C Luke Conlan 44), Alex Kenyon, Ryan Edwards, Jamie Devitt, Tom Barkhuizen, Kevin Ellison, Paul Mullin, Alan Goodall (Lee Molyneux 82), Aaron Wildig, Chris Doyle.
Subs not used: Aaron McGowan, Laurence Wilson, Ben Hedley, Kieran O’Hara.
Attendance: 7,153 (Morecambe 56).
Referee: Darren Deadman.
Hatters MOM: Paddy McCourt. Pulled the strings all evening as Luton tried to break the deadlock.