Vassell off the mark as classy Hatters win at Shrimps
League Two: Morecambe 0 Luton Town 2
Striker Isaac Vassell netted his first goal for Luton and first in professional football in a seriously classy 2-0 win for the Hatters at Morecambe this afternoon.
A first half goal from Danny Hylton had put the visitors ahead, before Vassell bagged his opening goal in Luton colors after his move from Truro City in the summer from a yard out midway through the second period, nodding home once James Justin's shot had been parried on to the bar by keeper Barry Roche.
Once Town had the two-goal buffer, there was no way even the most ardent Shrimps fan could see the hosts ending their four game losing run at the Globe Arena, such was the ease Hatters maneuvered their opponents around the pitch, coming close to adding a third and fourth on more than one occasion.
Morecambe's frustration boiled over late on, when Alex Whitmore saw red for a poor challenge on Olly Lee, as Tuesday night's visitors to Kenilworth Road Portsmouth's 1-1 draw with Cheltenham saw the Hatters up a place to fourth in the table.
The visitors made three changes to their team who beat Accrington 1-0 last weekend, with Vassell in for his first league start since the 2-0 defeat at Crawley on September 17, with Johnny Mullins in for the ill Scott Cuthbert, with Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu replacing the suspended.
What happened in the first half hour remains something of a mystery to this journalist and a good number of visiting fans, stuck in gridlock for over two hours on the M6 due to a diesel spillage.
Even though he couldn't remember much about it when speaking to the press afterwards, leading scorer Hylton netted his 11th of the campaign in that time with what I'm reliably told was a curling effort from outside the box.
On arrival, Luton keeper Christian Walton made a good low stop, while Hylton had another effort, repelled by Roche in the closing stages of the half.
Morecambe threatened a leveller too, Cole Stockton firing one over the bar, with Kevin Ellison nodding wide.
The hosts had a penalty shout in the closing seconds, when Alan Sheehan looking to have pushed Aaron McGowan in the back from Michael Rose's cross, but official Ben Toner remained unmoved, earning the official a word from home boss Jim Bentley as he went down the tunnel for the break.
In the second period, with Town's away terrace bolstered to a magnificent 520 by their latecomers, making up a third of the 1,507 in attendance, they saw Whitmore loop a header over the bar for Morecambe.
However, Luton, determined to add to their tally, set about doing so, as a superb burst from Vassell on the left saw the striker send a cracking ball across the face of goal, but this time Hylton hadn't gambled.
Olly Lee thundered an effort which was deflected wide, as McGeehan got up well up to loop his header over, but although Hatters were dominant, not getting a crucial second meant Morecambe were always in the fixture, Ellison providing a reminder of that very fact, spooning a presentable opportunity over from 15 yards.
Stockton had a sighter, firing waywardly into the stands as Luton had the added security of a second with an hour gone, Mpanzu's wonderful vision spotted Justin over-lapping on the right.
The young defender's fierce was parried weakly up into the air by Roche and after hitting the crossbar, dropped perfectly for Vassell to nod home.
From that point on it was all Luton, Mpanzu close to a third, cleverly exchanging passes with Hylton and on taking his backheel, rounded the advancing Roche, but stretching, could only find the side-netting.
Vassell almost had a second too, narrowly off target from Hylton's lovely cross as Luton defied the bog-like surface and sheeting rain to produce some truly excellent football.
Hylton looked for his second, seeing a drive fumbled away by Roche as all Morecambe's attempted replies came from range, Lee Molyneux and Paul Mullin and Molyenux wide of the mark.
The Shrimps had to finish the game with 10 men too, Whitmore diving in against Lee and seeing red.
In fact the only sour point of the afternoon came in stoppage time, when Hylton was booked for the most needless challenge on the byline, to receive his eighth yellow of the campaign, bringing his two game ban ever closer.
Late goals for both Carlisle and Exeter meant the Hatters remain three points behind third place, although they did pull back ground on leaders Plymouth Argyle, humbled 3-0 at home by Grimsby Town.
Shrimps: Barry Roche, Aaron McGowan, Ryan Edwards, Dean Winnard, Peter Murphy (Rhys Turner 71), Lee Molyneux, Kevin Ellison (Paul Mullin 71), Alex Whitmore, James Jennings, Cole Stockton (Ntumba Massanka 82), Michael Rose.
Subs not used: Liam Wakefield, Danijel Nizic, Luke Conlan, Jack Dunn.
Hatters: Christian Walton, James Justin, Alan Sheehan, Johnny Mullins, Glen Rea, Olly Lee, Alex Gilliead (Jake Gray 85), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Jonathan Smith 82), Cameron McGeehan, Danny Hylton, Isaac Vassell (Jack Marriott 80).
Subs not used: Craig King, Josh McQuoid. Craig Mackail-Smith, Stephen O'Donnell.
Attendance: 1,570 (520 Luton).
Booked: Rose 72, Smith 90, Hylton 90.
Sent off: Whitmore 86.
Referee: Ben Toner.
Hatters MOM: Isaac Vassell