JONES LOVES THE DRAMA AS HATTERS SWOOP LATE
Palmer fires in winner at death
NATHAN Jones was a firecracker of emotions as Ollie Palmer produced a 90th-minute winner to end a five-game winless run and give Luton some breathing space in the League Two play-off race.
Jones kicked the advertising hoardings and gestured gleefully to fans moments after the final whistle confirmed a three-point buffer between the Hatters and opponents Blackpool, who slipped out of the top seven.
Jones appeared to mouth the word ‘believe’ as he headed to the tunnel, serenaded by the home fans and afterwards he said: “We don’t mind a bit of drama around here.
“What a way to win too and I said to the players ‘we’re the only side who are not really nicking wins late on’. We haven’t had that and what a way to respond, they showed that they’re built of sterner stuff than before.
“We’ve come under a lot of negativity lately with the run we’ve been on and I’ve had to defend that and questioned my players, but I thought they responded fantastically well.”
Palmer’s winner at the death came after Seasiders’ keeper Dean Lyness blotted his copybook with a howler to allow the Leyton Orient loanee to tap in to an empty net for his second goal in 12 Hatters games.
Jones added: “Ollie Palmer, I’m delighted for him that he got the goal because I was critical of him in the week. I want more aggression from him, I want him to come on and have that bit between is teeth and he did.”
Until the forward took a bite out of Blackpool, Luton were staring at the possibility of remaining in the play-offs on goal difference only and that’s because they struggled to break down the visitors who had not tasted defeat for nine game prior to this contest.
They were kept at bay until the 20th minute when Isaac Vassell threaded through to Town top scorer Danny Hylton, who volleyed first time but unconvincingly and straight at keeper Lyness.
The pair linked up again but Vassell found Lyness in the way once more before the visitors gradually gained more of a foothold.
Bright Osayi-Samuel was almost wheeling away in celebration after a teasing a curler towards Town’s top corner. However, Arsenal loan stopper Matt Macey pulled off the first of two stunning saves and then, moments later, kept hold of a Neil Danns stinger to keep it goalless at the interval.
The second half was a forgettable affair until the introduction of Blackpool’s Kyle Vassell for Cullen in the 66th minute.
One of the striker’s first touches was an instinctive overhead kick that Macey, for the second time in the match, flung himself acrobatically at.
And all of a sudden the tedium was exterminated. Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu was denied by Lyness and it looked to be a day for both keepers to savour until the last minute.
Substitute Luke Gambin’s shot was spilled by the Tangerines man, leaving Palmer to stroke in and send Kenilworth Road into raptures.
“It's harsh on us,” said Blackpool boss Gary Bowyer.
“We’ve come across a goalkeeper that has made an unbelievable save from Kyle Vassell, several more and we’ve had some real good chances.
“I think you judge it by saves made by the goalkeepers.
“Their goalkeeper has pulled out a worldie from Bright OsayiSamuel and he’s pulled out another one from Kyle Vassell.
“We have to take it on the chin and move on. I said during the week there’s a lot of football left to play and my opinion doesn’t change on that.”
OLLIE, OLLIE, OLLIE: Palmer scores the late winner for Luton
BUNDLE: Luton pile on to celebrate Ollie Palmer’s 90th-minute goal
STAR MAN Blackpool