FULL-TIME: Luton Town 3 Hartlepool United 0

CLEARED OFF LINE: Nicky Featherstone
CLEARED OFF LINE: Nicky Featherstone
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HARTLEPOOL United suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat at Luton Town but STILL remain out of the relegation zone.

Pools, hampered by the absence of David Mirfin due to a toe injury, produced an awful first-half display and quickly found themselves 2-0 down.

Cameron McGeehan nodded them in front after just five minutes before Jake Howells made no mistake from the penalty spot after 15 minutes.

Pools were rattled and were lucky they managed to avoid conceding further goals before the break.

Scott Griffiths added a third midway through the second half but Pools remain out of the drop zone in Sky Bet League thanks to defeats for both Tranmere Rovers and Cheltenham Town.

Ronnie Moore handed starts to Scott Fenwick and Marlon Harewood, with defender Mirfin missing out with a toe injury.

The on-loan Scunthorpe United defender is set to go for a scan next week as Pools assess the seriousness of it.

The injury meant Moore also changed formation, with Pools lining up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Fenwick starting on the right wing and Jonathan Franks on the left.

Pools got off to the worst possible start though after just five minutes.

Luton, from their fourth Howells corner, took the lead through MCGEEHAN’s header from six-yards out.

Scott Flinders appealed that he was being held in the melee but referee Gary Sutton saw no foul.

It soon got worse, Aaron Tshibola conceding a penalty after barging into the onrushing Shaun Whalley 15 minutes in.

HOWELLS stepped up to tuck the ball into the bottom right-hand corner, with Flinders diving the other way.

Flinders then saved well from Cullen, while Nicky Featherstone cleared one off the line as Luton looked like scoring every time they attacked.

Cullen had the ball in the back of the net but his close range attempt was ruled offside.

On the half hour mark, Flinders was called on twice in quick succession, first to deny Cullen low at his front post before diving to keep out Elliot Lee’s shot from 12-yards.

Pools enjoyed an all too brief spell of pressure before Luton again came at them before the break.

Half-Time: Luton 2 Pools 0

Duckworth had to be alert two minutes into the second-half to prevent Lee from squaring the ball to two free Luton players inside the Pools penalty area.

Up the other end, Franks saw his shot deflected wide after 54 minutes while Hugill forced Justham into a low fumbled save two minutes later.

Pools were enjoying their best spell of pressure and the game was going to hinge on the next goal.

Moore replaced Fenwick with on-loan Middlesbrough winger Jordan Jones with half an hour left to play.

But it was Luton that scored again to extend their lead to 3-0.

From a Howells corner, there was an almighty scramble and GRIFFITHS poked the ball through a crowd of players into the net from close range.

It killed off any faint hopes Pools had of finding a way back into the game.

Moore handed a Pools debut to Ebby Nelson-Addy with 13 minutes of the match remaining, the former Aston Villa youth on for Hugill.

The third goal killed off any hope as Pools go into the final two games of the season just a point above the drop zone.

Full-Time: Luton 3 Pools 0

Luton (4-4-2): Justham, Harriman, Wilkinson, McNulty (C), Griffiths, Whalley (Hall, 75), McGeehan, Smith, Howells (Guttridge, 81), Cullen, Lee (Miller, 87).

Subs: King, Lacey, Wall, Hall, Kinsella.

Goals: McGeehan (5), Howells (15), Griffiths (71)

Pools (4-4-2): Flinders (C), Duckworth, Harrison, D Jones, Austin, Franks, Featherstone, Tshibola, Fenwick (J Jones, 63), Hugill (Nelson-Addy, 77), Harewood.

Subs: Maxted, Richards, Parnaby, Bates, Walker.

Booked: Austin (43), Featherstone, (90).

Referee: Gary Sutton (Lincolnshire)

Attendance: 8,231 (277 Pools)