Reporter Adam Lord takes a closer look at Morecambe's 4-2 defeat to Oxford on Saturday.
Red card shouldn’t mask obvious failings
You can’t argue with the fact that Shaun Miller’s red card changed the game on Saturday. Morecambe were certainly heading in the right direction after starting poorly and were growing into the second half. Miller’s red card, and it’s one you can’t argue with, certainly came at a bad moment for The Shrimps. Three goals that ultimately settled the game in Oxford’s favour quickly followed and it would easy to point to the striker’s dismissal. But it shouldn’t distract from the fact that the first two came from corners as Morecambe again failed to defend set pieces. The fourth, a slick Oxford move, is one you can hold your hands up to, but the two before that were simply a case of the same old story in a defensive effort that means any hopes of a meaningful end to the season have all but evaporated.
From joy to despair for Lee Molyneux
The highs and lows of football were encapsulated in the space of 60 seconds for Lee Molyneux on Saturday. Paul Mullin had been readied for a few minutes when Molyneux sent a sublime lob over Benji Buchel and in to level things up for The Shrimps. For a man who has not perhaps hit the heights expected this season and seen his opportunities limited, it was the perfect way to announce his arrival back in the side with Jamie Devitt ill. There was devastation seconds later though as it became clear Mullin was coming on to replace Molyneux, who it later transpired had a groin problem, with his stunning finish his final touch of the afternoon. The former Accrington man was almost in tears with plenty of consoling needed from Jim Bentley and Ken McKenna. To any fan claiming these Morecambe players don’t care, I’d urge them to take a look at that.
Patched up side for Bristol Rovers?
Ending a run of just one point from the last 18 was always going to be easier said than done at Bristol Rovers. Now it looks even tougher given the fact that Jim Bentley may have lost another three players on Saturday. The 18 in the squad were all the fit players he had available and now Miller looks set to serve a three-game ban and plenty of fingers will be being crossed about the severity of Molyneux’s groin problem and Luke Conlan’s hamstring injury. Aaron Wildig, Laurence Wilson and Aaron McGowan all could come back into contention after their own injuries but the reality is Bentley looks like he will be patching together a side. One option would be the loan window but players need to leave to free up money for The Shrimps boss, a risky strategy given how low on numbers he is. It is another sign however of how there is a desperate need for investment off the field if Morecambe are to take the next step.