Jay Stansfield scored a superb hat-trick on his final appearance on loan at Exeter City as the Grecians beat Morecambe 3-2 – and relegated their opponents.

The Fulham forward had spoken in the build-up to this game about how he wanted to finish a special loan spell at St. James’ Park in style and he had so splendidly on an emotional day. Wearing the number nine shirt his boyhood club had retired in memory of his much-missed father Adam, who had passed away after bravely battling cancer, Stansfield single-handedly secured all three points for Gary Caldwell’s side in the sizzling sunshine after a goalless first half.

The 20 year-old opened scoring four minutes in the second period after being teed up by Sam Nombe after excellent approach play from Demetri Mitchell. Morecambe levelled almost instantly when Cole Stockton punished a mix-up between Jamal Blackman and Will Aimson to head into an empty, but Stansfield restored City’s advantage four minutes later when he thumped home from ten yards after the visitors had failed to clear a cross from Pierce Sweeney.

Morecambe, needing to win to stay up, threw men forward and paid the penalty when Stansfield emulated his father, who scored a hat-trick against the Shrimps for Yeovil Town, by finishing emphatically from twelve yards after being picked out by Josh Key and celebrating in front of the stand named after his late father. Stockton did add a consolation for the away side in the fourteenth minute of stoppage time with a ferocious finish into the top corner but this was Stansfield’s day.

The popular striker, who became the youngest player to score an EFL hat-trick this season, told Devon Live afterwards:

“It was an amazing day, not just for me, but for all the fans. It is a privilege to put the shirt on and wear it with such pride and to score a hat-trick in front of the fans who have been amazing, no better way to end the season. Today was amazing and all the lads are buzzing. We have had some tough results so to win the last game, no better way to do it. I didn’t score for a while but fans stuck by me the whole way and I’m so happy to get three goals for them.

It is my first hat-trick and a good feeling. Being a young lad from the academy, everyone has been amazing and to show confidence in me and to bring me down here, they have been unbelievable with me. The fans have been amazing and the gaffer stuck with me the whole way.”

City boss Caldwell admitted that that the club would be delighted to take him on loan from Fulham again next term – but the striker will report to Motspur Park on Tuesday before talks with the Whites commence over what his immediate future holds.