League Two: Luton Town 2 Morecambe 3
Luton Town suffered a first home league defeat since early September after Luke Wilkinson’s late own goal gifted visiting Morecambe victory at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
There looked to be little danger when Kevin Ellison sent over a cross on 86 minutes, but with the ball rolling into Elliot Justham’s gloves, Wilkinson stuck out a boot to divert it into the net.
The hosts had hauled themselves level from 2-0 down after just 29 minutes with goals from Cameron McGeehan and Alex Lawless, with Morecambe also reduced to 10 men with 10 to go, before Wilkinson’s intervention sparked disappointing scenes at the final whistle.
As boss John Still left the field, he took exception to something said by a home supporter, with skipper Steve McNulty also involved, as stewards had to lead the Town captain away.
Earlier, Luton made two changes as they looked to stop a run of three defeats from four, with both strikers Elliot Lee and Jayden Stockley dropped to the bench for Shaun Whalley and Mark Cullen.
Although Still had commented in the week he was looking to improve on Town’s recent habit of starting poorly, there was no evidence of that early on, with Hatters woeful in the opening 30 minutes once more.
The visitors had a decent opportunity as Jack Redshaw ran free from McNulty’s attentions, only to fire straight at Justham when he could have advanced further.
McGeehan then escaped an early bath on five minutes, sliding in late on Laurence Wilson with a poorly judged tackle, but referee Carl Berry dished out a yellow under pressure from the visitors to make it red.
Justham was tested once more, claiming Andrew Wright’s header, but Morecambe then deservedly took the lead after 18 minutes, when the diminutive Redshaw showed fantastic skill to dance past his marker and fire across Justham into the corner.
Town’s efforts at getting back into the game were nondescript. and matters went from bad to worse on 29 minutes when the Shrimps had a second to their name.
Although no doubting the quality of the unmarked Wilson’s half volley from outside the box that fizzed past Justham, Redshaw looked offside in the build-up as McNulty in particular remonstrated with the linesman.
Morecambe should have had a third as they sliced open Luton with all too much ease once more, and with Town’s ponderous defence backing off, Redshaw cut through only to shoot straight at Justham.
Still reacted to the his side’s lacklustre display, taking Scott Griffiths off for Lawless, with Howells dropping to left back, but the Shrimps remained the more likely, Wilson’s attempt from range not dipping in time.
With Town’s supporters frustrations growing by the second, with their first passing move of any note, Town had a lifeline as Smith spread the play for Michael Harriman.
He who delivered a cross that McGeehan arrived on to head powerfully past Andreas Arestidou at full stretch.
Hatters almost were back on level terms by the break as Smith fired well over, before Harriman reached the byline and sent over another excellent cross that Cullen nodded behind.
Town came out with more intent in the second period as Lawless picked up an error by Redshaw in his own box and saw a low drive deflected inches wide.
From the corner, Cullen missed his flick header, with the ball hitting McGeehan who had turned his back and going just past the post.
Whalley’s ambitious first timer was easy for Arestidou, with Redshaw always a pest at the other end. sending an effort at Justham as Luton once again stood off.
Hatters were then thankful to Justham for a crucial stop as Wilkinson’s calamitous error was seized upon by Redshaw, but Town’s stopper was out quickly to block with his legs.
Sub Elliot Lee forced Arestidou to tip his free kick over, before from a corner, he then nodded against the post with Wilkinson hooking the follow up awkwardly over.
Luton were then on level terms when McNulty reached another set-piece and looped a header against the bar, with the rebound fired low into the net by Lawless as Kenilworth Road erupted.
A melee ensued on 81 minutes as Ryan Edwards cleaned out McGeehan and was shown his marching orders for a second booking, while Andrew Fleming was lucky not to follow him in the aftermath as he raised his hands.
With the bookings totting up, Town looked for a winner, but no-one appeared to want to take the initiative, McGeehan eventually putting one over the top.
The woodwork came to the Shrimps rescue when Lawless reached Cullen’s flick only to see his close range header kept out by a combination of Arestidou and the post.
Morecambe then stunned the majority of the 8,667 crowd with Wilkinson’s error, but still Town had opportunities to claim a point.
Spurs youngster Nathan Oduwa crossed and McGeehen headed over, while the flying winger went over twice in the area, with nothing given.
Leading scorer Cullen missed a huge chance when Oduwa’s cross broke to him, but he scuffed straight at the keeper as Hatters dropped to sixth in the table, losing more ground on the top three positions.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Michael Harriman, Scott Griffiths (Alex Lawless 33), Steve McNulty (C), Luke Wilkinson, Jonathan Smith (Elliot Lee 69), Cameron McGeehan, Jake Howells, Luke Guttridge, Mark Cullen, Shaun Whalley (Nathan Oduwa 73).
Subs not used: Andy Drury, Fraser Franks, Craig King, Jayden Stockley.
Shrimps: Andreas Arestidou, Shaun Beeley (Padraig Amond 90), Jamie Devitt (Paul Mullin 74), Mark Hughes (C), Ryan Edwards, Jack Redsaw (Alex Kenyon 82), Andrew Wright, Kevin Ellison, Andrew Fleming, Laurence Wilson, Andy Parrish.
Subs not used: Ryan Williams, Alan Goodall, Aaron McGowan, Tom Stewart.
Referee: Carl Berry.
Booked: McGeehan 4, Beeley 64, McNulty 66, Redshaw 68, Edwards 71, Fleming 81, Hughes 84, Lee 84, Oduwa 90, Wilkinson 90.
Sent off: Edwards 81.
Attendance: 8,667 (94 Morecambe).
Hatters MOM: Alex Lawless - His introduction gave Luton hope and he was so close to snatching what might have been the winner.