Match report: Morecambe 1 Northampton Town 0

Alex Kenyon made three late saves as Morecambe's emergency keeper
Alex Kenyon made three late saves as Morecambe's emergency keeper

A-Jay Leitch-Smith’s goal gave Morecambe their first win of the season but that barely tells the story of a dramatic night at the Globe Arena.

The striker’s goal in first-half stoppage time put the Shrimps on the way to a well deserved three points.

Then, in the 86th minute, Morecambe keeper Barry Roche picked up his second yellow card for a foul on Junior Morias.

With Jim Bentley having made his final change seconds earlier, it meant midfielder Alex Kenyon was deployed in goal for the final four minutes and then the six minutes of stoppage time.

Sensing what had seemed an unlikely equaliser, Northampton poured forward with Kenyon making fine saves to deny Morias and Daniel Powell.

One point instead of three would have been harsh on Bentley’s players who had bossed the game until Roche’s moment of stupidity.

There were two changes to the Shrimps’ starting line-up from that beaten at Stevenage on Saturday.

In came Rhys Oates and Jason Oswell with Kevin Ellison named on the bench and Vadaine Oliver left out altogether.

Bentley’s selection saw his players produce a performance of high tempo, passing football for much of the evening.

The central strike pairing of Leitch-Smith and Oswell were a real handful, while Oates and Liam Mandeville were constantly keen to run at their full-backs.

For good measure, Aaron Wildig and Andy Fleming in the centre of midfield were playing with their heads up, looking for team-mates and sharing the attacking responsibilities.

Leitch-Smith had one shot blocked on its way through to goal, while Fleming had a header tipped onto the bar by David Cornell.

The keeper wasn’t done there as, in added time, he pushed away Oates’ shot and saw Oswell’s follow-up cleared from inside the six-yard box.

Not that it was one-way traffic with Northampton striker Kevin van Veen a muscular presence and seeing a number of efforts off target.

The biggest threat however, came from midfielder Matt Crooks, who saw a low shot kept out by Roche before he sent another effort wastefully off target from close range.

Just as the first half looked to be ending goalless, the Shrimps’ goalscoring drought was ended in added time as Leitch-Smith expertly controlled Fleming’s long pass before firing past Cornell.

The second half started in the same vein with Leitch-Smith half-volleying over the bar and Cornell pushing away Oates’ shot.

An even better stop denied Leitch-Smith before Ellison saw a free-kick kept out by Cornell, who was single-handedly keeping his side in the game.

Those efforts were not replicated by his colleagues as, despite a slightly nervy period for the Shrimps, they had looked as comfortable as could be expected with a one-goal lead.

The Morecambe defence blocked shots from van Veen and Sam Foley but that was near as Northampton came despite using all three substitutes.

Then they were given that unexpected lifeline; having been cautioned for his part in some early second-half handbags, Roche’s poor decision saw him leave his colleagues up against it.

With Morecambe’s defence dropping deeper, Kenyon did his part expertly but was grateful to see John-Joe O’Toole fire wastefully over.

An equaliser would have been harsh, however, but the final whistle was greeted by a combination of relief and euphoria.

Morecambe: Roche, Mills, Yarney, Old, Conlan, Mandeville, Fleming, Wildig (Mendes Gomes 85), Oates (Ellison 66), Leitch-Smith, Oswell (Kenyon 74). Subs not used: Halstead, Jagne, Hedley, Cranston.

Northampton Town: Cornell, Facey, Taylor, Barnett, Buchanan, Hoskins, Foley (O’Toole 84), Crooks, Bowditch (Powell 64), van Veen, Williams (Morias 64). Subs not used: Ward, Odoffin, Turnbull, Bridge.

Referee: Mark Heywood.

Attendance: 1,594.