Marriott at the double as Hatters defeat the Shrimps

League Two: Luton Town 3 Morecambe 1

Saturday, 6th May 2017, 8:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 8:19 pm
Hatters celebrate Isaac Vassell's opener against Morecambe this afternoon

Substitute Jack Marriott's late double ensured Luton made it three league wins in a row for the first time this season, as they saw off Morecambe at Kenilworth Road.

The forward, on for Isaac Vassell in the 72nd minute, took barely any time at all to make his mark, firing through keeper Barry Roche's legs, going on to add another with four minutes to go.

Victory ensured Town ended the season in fourth place, a position they were never realistically in danger of losing, setting up a play-off semi-final with Blackpool.

If Luton's finishing berth was safe prior to kick-off, who they would be facing over two legs certainly wasn't and would go on to changed hands five times over the course of the evening, four times in the first half as well.

With the Tangerines starting out as seventh, Stevenage, Carlisle and Colchester all spent a while there, before the Cumbrians hit back to win 3-2 at Exeter, and as Blackpool saw off Leyton Orient, it meant the top seven somehow finished exactly as it had started.

Boss Nathan Jones stuck to his words by playing his strongest side available, Alan Sheehan missing out with an ankle injury for Luke Gambin the only change.

Gambin sent over two dangerous early crosses, the first just eluding Isaac Vassell, while the diminutive midfielder fluffed the best chance of the opening 20 minutes, as found by Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's cut back, he skied his effort badly over from 12 yards.

Morecambe's Antony Evans sent a stooping header narrowly wide as the Shrimps looked to prove they weren't here to make up the numbers, while Paul Mullin's shot was easy for Stuar Moore.

Town then had a sloppy five minutes where they continually gave possession away, before they were then back on it and ahead on 29 minutes.

Dan Potts' towering header from Gambin's corner was blocked on the line and Vassell tapped home a 12th of the season, before celebrating with a perfect cartwheel and backflip to demonstrate some wonderful gymnastic ability previously unseen from the forward.

Jake Gray whistled inches wide as Luton searched for a second, although they were kept honest at the back, Ryan Edwards striding out from defence and sending a skimming effort narrowly wide.

Vassell looked to double the advantage, his close range attempt deflected behind by the outstretched leg of Aaron Wildig, while Gray certainly wasn't afraid to have a crack either, firing over from a tight angle.

After the break, Glen Rea thought he had made it 2-0, heading home another dangerous Gambin corner but referee John Busby's whistle had blown seconds before it hit the net for a mystery infringement.

With Town looking like they were going to add a second at any moment, the Shrimps were level on 57 minutes.

Cuthbert uncharacteristically left a ball over the top and when Paul Mullin broke into the area, the captain, desperate to atone for his error, hauled the striker down for a clear penalty.

Michael Rose stepped up to confidently send Moore the wrong way and Town's afternoon took a further turn for the worse when James Justin went down clutching his ankle and had to be stretchered off, Stephen O'Donnell entering the fray.

While Justin was being taken away, veteran Kevin Ellison was in the right place to head Potts' header off the line as the full back won corner after corner in the air ahead of his markers.

Stung by the equaliser, Town weren't knocked out of their stride too much, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu glancing over the top and Vassell's powerful effort unconvincingly pawed away by Roche.

The Shrimps keeper then produced a truly wonderful stop on 71 minutes as he somehow clawed away Ollie Palmer's close range header from Olly Lee's free kick.

Game-changer Marriott was then introduced and from a lightning break involving O'Donnell and Gray, he was sent clear to fire past Roche for his first home league goal since September 24 against Doncaster.

Moore made sure there wasn't another leveller, superbly turning aside Mullin's attempt after Ellison's free kick wasn't cleared, while the unmarked Mullin missed a great chance, slamming over the top.

With Luton always dangerous on the break, it was from another such counter they put the game to bed, as Marriott found the bottom corner from 20 yards to double his tally for the afternoon.

Luton now have a week off to recuperate before the real action starts once more, as they head to Bloomfield Road to face a bang in-form Blackpool side.

Hatters: Stuart Moore, James Justin (Stephen O'Donnell 63), Dan Potts, Scott Cuthbert (C), Glen Rea, James Justin, Olly Lee, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jake Gray, Luke Gambin (Lawson D'Ath 78), Dan Potts, Ollie Palmer, Isaac Vassell (Jack Marriott 72).

Subs not used: Craig King, Zane Banton, Akin Famewo, Jonathan Smith.

Shrimps: Barry Roche, Aaron McGowan (Michael Duckworth 90), Alex Kenyon, Ryan Edwards, Paul Mullin, Lee Molyneux, Kevin Ellison, Aaron Wildig (Ben Hedley 88), Alex Whitmore, Antony Evans (Andrew Fleming 70), Michael Rose (C).

Subs not used: Liam Wakefield, Dan Nizic, Rhys Turner, Luke Jordan.

Booked: Potts 45, Wildig 52, Cuthbert 57.

Attendance: 8,399 (187 from Morecambe).

Referee: John Busby.