Date: 2nd April 2016 at 5:15pm
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Morecambe had a completely even record against Barnet before Saturday`s game at The Globe, each club having won seven, drawn seven and lost seven of the twenty-one games played between them so far. For the hosts, Kevin Ellison and Barry Roche – both having signed further contracts with the club this week and the latter returning from suspension – were joined by Andy Parrish in the starting line-up which also included Alex Kenyon after the rescinding of the red card he was issued with last time out. Jim Bentley has complained long and loud about his team not having the rub of the green in recent times and there`s no doubt that incidents such as Kenyon`s sending-off has not helped his efforts to get his team further up the League Two table. Today`s game provided further controversy in this regard and both referee David Coote and his bosses at the FA had quite a few questions to answer at the end of it.

Barnet arrived on a decent run of form, having lost only once in their last five games and drawn at Exeter and beaten Luton at home over Easter. Manager Martin `Mad Dog` Allen was hoping for a decent display on the Lancashire coast and was aiming for thirteenth position in the League by Saturday night.

Morecambe hadn`t read the script, though. Things couldn`t have gone better for the Shrimps today right from the start. Shaun Beeley played-in Shaun Miller straight from kick-off and Morecambe`s leading scorer coolly lobbed the ball over an advancing Graham Stack in the Bees` goal to give the Lancashire team the lead. Miller scored again just seven minutes later from the penalty spot. Two weeks ago, Barry Roche fouled Jay Simpson of Orient when the player had taken the ball round him and was about to score at Brisbane Road. The Morecambe goalkeeper was immediately sent off. Today, Stack performed exactly the same sort of foul on Tom Barkhuizen when the forward was also just about to score, having got round him as well. But Mr Coote simply awarded a penalty and issued no card of any colour to the Barnet custodian. Personally, it seems to me that the award of a penalty is punishment enough in a situation like this. Sending Roche off at Orient effectively doomed Morecambe to defeat: it`s surely an over-reaction. But where`s the consistency? Shortly after going two-nil down, Barnet had another lucky escape when there was a clear hand-ball in their penalty area which only the referee and his assistants didn`t seem to see: according to the letter of the law, this should have resulted in a further penalty and another straight red card.

Morecambe didn`t have things all their own way during the first half, though and although Roche was never seriously troubled, Andy Yiadom, John Akinde and Sam Muggleton all had chances to score. At the other end, Miller was denied a hat-trick after getting round Stack by the stupidity of Andy Fleming, who couldn`t resist helping a goal-bound shot into the net when in an off-side position: the goal was rightly chalked-off. The Shrimps thus went in at half time with just a two goal lead.

This soon became three when – after forty-eight minutes – Kenyon superbly headed home from Lee Molyneux`s corner. This was a great goal but Kenyon would not have been on the pitch if Referee David Webb`s weak decision to send him off when surrounded by a posse of Plymouth players last time out had been upheld. Morecambe would probably have lost this game in any case but their unmerited reduction to ten men certainly didn`t help their cause – and this is not good enough as far as refereeing standards are concerned.

Going back to Saturday`s game, substitute Michael Gash reduced the arrears for the Bees after seventy minutes when he blasted the ball home off Fleming – in the wrong place at the wrong time again – after Sam Togwell had rolled a free-kick to him from the edge of the box. After this, they missed several opportunities to reduce the arrears even further, coming closest when Matt Steven`s shot was booted off the line in the ninetieth minute. A couple of minutes before this, however, substitutes Jamie Devitt and Cole Stockton had combined to allow the Tranmere loanee to open his Morecambe account with an emphatic finish from a sublime pass to make the score 4-1. But even after this, the Shrimps` haphazard defending allowed an unmarked Gash to belt home another goal for Barnet in the third minute of injury time. Morecambe thus staggered over the line with a win which they probably deserved, all things considered. The three points propelled them up two places into eighteenth position in League Two. The loss left `Mad Dog`s` team in fifteenth.