Date: 29th August 2015 at 5:15pm
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Saturday`s game at the Globe marked the first ever visit of Notts County – the last time they played Morecambe was when they lost 2-1 at Christie Park in September 2009 and Jim Bentley scored against a team managed by Sven Goran Eriksson and including players such as Casper Schmichael and Sol Campbell. Since then, the Nottingham ‘Magpies` have been in the rarefied atmosphere of League One until relegation put a stop to this last season. At the start of the match, the Shrimps were in fifteenth place in League Two with Notts a position lower on the same number of points: four. Their record against each other in League games – six games played; two won each and two drawn – was almost completely even as well before kick-off. So something had to give – unless there was another draw, of course?

Jim Bentley`s biggest pre-match worry was the lengthening list of injuries to a squad already limited by the suspension of both Kevin Ellison and Ryan Edwards for violent conduct against Wycombe earlier in the month. Lawrence Wilson was unavailable at the last minute and following an injury to reserve goalkeeper Tony Thompson in training on Friday, an outfield player would have to go in goal if Barry Roche had to leave the field for any reason.

It is noticeable that – following the tradition of his own mentor, former Manager Sammy McIlroy – Jim never criticises his own players in public and gives the impression (regardless of what might or might not be happening behind closed doors) that Morecambe Football Club is one big happy family all pulling in the same direction. This is clearly not the style of his Opposite Number?

Ricardo Moniz had worries before the game for reasons which were the polar opposite to Big Jim`s: the County Manager has put it on record that he is not happy with some of his own squad, claiming that “Sometimes they only want to sit and take the benefit of the salary. We have too many players who I can’t use.” The Dutchman was also under something of a cloud himself, having received an official warning from the FA this week after criticising the referee following County`s heroic but ultimately futile effort at Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday – a game they finally lost 5-3 after leading no less than three times against Premiership opposition.

They never led on Saturday. Alan Goodall opened the scoring for the Shrimps after nineteen minutes with a tremendous left-footed shot from wholly twenty-five yards which beat Roy Carroll all ends up in the visitors` goal. Notts came close to equalising after half an hour when Jon Stead hit the bar with a shot from distance with Roche a mere spectator. The Morecambe goalkeeper was beaten again after forty minutes however, when the eye-catching Genaro Snijders scored another wonder goal with an instant volley from over 40 yards` distance which went straight into the top corner. Just before half time, Morecambe`s injury worries increased as Captain Sean Beeley limped off with what looked like it might be a hamstring problem – Alex Kenyon replaced him.

The second half kicked-off with the teams all-square. From the Shrimps` point of view, though, things had got even worse: they were unable to re-start with outstanding midfielder Aaron Wildig who was lost to yet another injury which kept him in the dressing room. Replacement Paul Mullin took his opportunity with a shot into the top corner of the net with just over an hour played after being fed by Aaron McGowan. The visitors didn`t fold at this point but they failed to concentrate after substitute Kenyon put the contest out of reach when he managed to squeeze the ball past Carroll from a narrow angle with just a couple of minutes still scheduled to play. Almost straight from kick-off, Jamie Devitt put the icing on the cake with Morecambe`s fourth goal with an assured shot within the penalty area from Mullin`s pass. So it ended four-one to the Shrimps on the day their Manager and his assistant Ken McKenna signed two-year extensions to their current contracts at the Globe. His team`s reward for what turned out to be a comprehensive victory was three points which pushed them up the League Two table into 10th position.

On this performance, you do wonder if Moniz`s abrasive approach to management will be ultimately successful. Publicly criticising individual players is always a risky strategy because it carries the potential side-effect of turning all the other players in the club against their manager as well. Time will tell if the clash of cultures on display at the Globe Arena will ultimately work for the new County boss: it certainly didn`t on Saturday. County fell to twentieth place in the division as a result of their latest loss. They need to galvanise and do so quickly if they are not to find themselves in a struggle simply to stay in the League this season.
Ref: Ross Joyce.