Adam Lord takes a closer look at Morecambe’s 4-3 defeat to Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
Thriller can’t mask defensive problems
Jim Bentley certainly isn’t fooled. Looking at this on the classified results it will look like a great game, fitting of a decent slot on any highlights show. That might be the case, and there was drama aplenty. But from Morecambe’s point of view this can’t be written off as one of those days where they were edged out in a thriller. The defensive issues that have blighted recent games at the Globe Arena show no sign of getting better. Goals two and three were especially poor from a Morecambe point of view with solutions not exactly clear cut. Bentley insists endless work is being done on the training ground and individual errors and rendering those efforts redundant on a match day. He also points to struggling to field a consistent back four week in, week out. It is valid and don’t underestimate the problem Laurence Wilson’s absence causes, with left back one area where Morecambe don’t have a clear-cut natural replacement. Shaun Beeley, Lee Molyneux and Aaron McGowan have all filled the gap at one point or another this season to varying results. Whatever Bentley chooses to do defensively, things need to improve sooner rather than later.
Miller is up and running in style
Goalkeeper Lee Nicholls racing from his goal may have made Shaun Miller’s mind up about whether to shoot or not on Saturday but it was still a fine finish from the striker. Having seen goals come from all around the team in the opening weeks of the season he will have known the importance of getting up and running sooner rather than later. The former Coventry, Crewe and Sheffield United man has seen injury blight his last couple of seasons so another full 90 minutes will also have done him the world of good. For me, he really looks the part up top for The Shrimps. Rarely did he squander possession when the ball was sent up to him and he brought others into the game well. The best thing for The Shrimps is he’ll only get better with more game time.
Barkhuizen quickly becoming key
Tom Barkhuizen has quickly become The Shrimps’ hottest property. Tipped by Jim Bentley to really come into his own at the Globe Arena that certainly looks like being the case. His goal on Saturday means it is five for the season in all competitions from a player who is showing his versatility. I’m not talking about right back, where Barkhuizen was wasted at Blackpool, but how the winger is increasingly shining as an out and out front man. His pace will cause problems to any League 2 defence with one diagonal ball from distance releasing him in on goal before a second set up his goal. His game is more than just pace though with Barkhuizen clearly having an eye for goal. Things are certainly looking good for “League 2’s Gareth Bale” as Shrimps assistant Ken McKenna christened him earlier in the season.