A Jay Stansfield hat-trick ensured that Exeter City ended the Sky Bet League One season with a win, as they beat Morecambe 3-2 at St James Park.
The Grecians came alive in the second half, with the City striker ending his loan spell on the perfect note, as he fired City to a 14th placed finish in League One.
Gary Caldwell responded to last weekend’s defeat by making five changes to the starting line-up, with Jake Caprice, Harry Kite, Pierce Sweeney, Gary Woods and Josh Coley dropping out for Jonathan Grounds, Sam Nombe, Archie Collins, Jamal Blackman and Stansfield.
The visitors had the first chance of the game, as Dan Crowley picked the ball up outside the Grecian 18-yard box and took aim, but his shot was wide of Blackman’s goal.
Exeter struggled to get going in the early exchanges, with small mistakes costing them attacks against a pumped-up Morecambe side, who knew a result could see them secure League One safety.
Pedro Borges had the Grecians first shot on goal, as a Key corner was floated into the back post and into the young midfielder’s path, but his header was wide.
Corners seemed to be City’s best weapon in the first half, as Demetri Mitchell found Grounds who chested the ball into Will Aimson, and the captain volleyed over the bar.
The hosts put their best chance of the first half together with five minutes to go, as they put six passes together outside the Morecambe box, leading Borges to drive an effort just wide of Connor Ripley.
City got out of the blocks much faster in the second half, with Mitchell drilling the ball across goal, which caught the foot of Jacob Bedeau and forced Ripley into an uncomfortable save.
Exeter continued to cause the away side problems as Stansfield drove in from the right flank, but his shot was blocked by a Morecambe defender.
However, Stansfield was not to be denied a final Grecian goal, as Nombe found the striker in plenty of space, and he got free of his man before slotting home to put Exeter ahead.
It wouldn’t take long for Morecambe to level, as a long ball found its way into the Exeter box, and was met by Cole Stockton, who beat Blackman to the ball.
The game had come alive in the second half, as Nombe did excellently to keep the ball in, and squared it to an onrushing Key, but he could not keep his effort down.
Stansfield remained determined to end his City spell on the winning side, and he put City back in front as a Key shot was blocked into the path of the Fulham loanee, and he fired past Ripley.
The Grecians were not done there, as Stansfield met a Key cross, and placed the ball into the back of the net to secure his hat-trick and put Exeter further ahead, in what was a beautiful moment at St James Park.
Morecambe, who were clearly knocked by City’s third, forced a save from Blackman, as they shot from the edge of the box.
Cole Stockton could have pulled one back for the Shrimps, but his header from close range failed to find the target.
There was an extraordinary 14 minutes added onto the end of the game, as the away side made the most of it to pull a goal back, as Stockton scored his second to give his side a slight hope.
However, it was not enough for the visitors and City emerged victorious to end a successful return campaign on a high.
CITY: Blackman, Hartridge (Sweeney, 34), Mitchell (Sparkes, 63), Collins, Stansfield (Cox, 73), Nombe (Scott, 86), Key, Aimson, Chuake (Kite, 63), Grounds, Borges (Caprice, 73).
Subs not used: Coley
MORECAMBE: Ripley, Gibson, Rawson (Shaw, 64), Taylor (Delaney, 44), Crowley (Hunter, 55), Stockton, Gnahoua (Niasse, 45), Weir, Bedeau, Cooney (Mayor, 55), Austerfield (Simeu, 84).
Subs not used: Smith
Referee: Carl Brook
Attendance: 7,386 (658)
KIDS IN CHARGE DAY MATCH REPORT
By Felix, age 10
Foul by Pedro Borges push in the back, 10 minutes in. Chance for Morecambe, Dan Crowley outside the box and just wide of the post. 20 minutes in, chance for Sam Nombe but it was offside. Exeter corner, Borges at the back post but wide with the header. Jay Stansfield on the attack but it just resulted in a corner. The corner went over all the players and out for a goal kick from Josh key 28 minutes in. Demetri Mitchell with the corner and Will Aimson with a volley and skies it over the crossbar. 33 minutes in and Stansfield wins the corner but nothing comes from it. Subsitution for Exeter City Pierce Sweeney comes on the Alex Hartridge 35 minutes in. Cross in from Mitchell but goes over everybody and out for a goal kick. A bit of skill from Jamal Blackman in the box to get away from the Morecambe player and clears it out. A shot from Josh Austerfield but it went straight down the middle and into Jamal’s hands. Jay Stansfield down injured outside the box 43 minutes in. Sub for Morecambe Jake Taylor for Ryan Delaney 44 minutes in. Half time 0-0 with Exeter and Morecambe.
GOAL!!! Jay Stansfield runs through the morecambe defence, left footed shot into the the side netting 49 minutes in. Goal for Morecambe assist from Jensen Weir. A long ball over the top of the defence Will Aimson left it and Cole Stockton headed the ball over Jamal Blackman. GOAL!! Jay Stansfield half volley inside the box assisted by Sam Nombe. Kegs Chauke down injured after a challenge the Morecambe player. Sub for Exeter, Kegs Chauke off and Jack Sparkes on. Demetri Mitchell off for Harry Kite 63 minutes in. Harry Kite is down with a back injury trying to jump to win the ball but landed awkwardly.Goal!! Jay Stansfield hat trick with a shot into the bottom left corner. Yellow card for Pedro Borges with a late slide tackle. Sub for Exeter Jake Caprice on for Borges and Sonny Cox on for Jay Stansfield. An instant impact from Sonny Cox straight on the attack. Pierce Sweeney yellow card for kicking the ball away from the Morecambe player 77 minutes in. Jensen Weir with a foul and then kicked the ball away which resulted in a yellow card.
Adam Mayor with a late slide tackle and a yellow card was shown to hime 81 minutes in. Harry Kite has been given a yellow card for being too close to the free kick and blocking it. 84 minutes in, sub for morecambe Josh Austerfield off with an injury for Dynel Simeu and Sam Nombe off for James Scott 87 minutes in. 14 minutes added time after the 90. Long shot from Archie Collins blocked by Simue. Yellow card for Jake Caprice after a late challenge. Cross in from Morecambe Cole Stockton with a wide header. 5 minutes left and Exeter are on the attack but Harry Kite with a shot just above the crossbar.Goal for Morecambe 90+13 Cole Stockton with a volley inside the box deflected off of Jamal Blackman’s hand. Full Time Exeter 3-2 Morecambe.