Aidy Boothroyd returned to the Globe Arena today for his second visit. He remains the first visiting Manager ever to have brought a team to this venue: Coventry City last season in the Carling Cup. His Championship charges went on to lose to Morecambe and he went on to lose his job as their manager – not that they are doing any better without him currently. Looking on the black side, today was always going to be an uphill struggle on current form: he has been in charge of the Cobblers for only a month or so but at the start of today`s match, Northampton had failed to win any games under his stewardship and were three points adrift of Dagenham in 23rd and Dead Men Walking relegation position. Before he took over, the Cobblers had already lost to the Shrimps at Sixfields in the League this season. Looking on the bright side, though, Northampton are unbeaten this year: in the whole one game played so far, Mr Boothroyd`s blend of loanees and inherited players gained a creditable draw at high-flying Shrewsbury last Monday. Also – Morecambe nearly always lose to Northampton ?
Today, the visitors had no less than six loan players in their starting line-up and they showed right from the start that they are beginning to have some cohesion as a team. Morecambe had the earliest chance, though: Danny Carlton squandered the first of a number of half chances presented to him today by shooting weakly past the visitors` left hand post. Morecambe`s man of the Match Andy Parrish did well after nine minutes to block the Cobblers` own first half chance as Northampton – playing against a very strong wind – kept the ball on the deck and played it to feet rather than lumping it forwards and charging after it, which is what many teams in their position might be expected to do. They didn`t have it all their own way, though: Phil Jevons shot tamely over the bar when unmarked and well placed after just over a quarter of an hour and the same player should have done much better after 34 minutes when he was cleverly played in to have a clear run on goal – his lack of pace meant that the Cobbler`s defence caught him up and crowded him out before he got his shot away: his weak pass towards Kevin Ellison was easily dealt with by the back-pedalling opposition. By this time, however, the visitors had taken the lead. A corner from the Morecambe right after twenty minutes was slotted home by John Johnson whilst one of his team-mates seemed to be impeding Barry Roche on the Morecambe goal-line. The Shrimps` huge Irishman complained about this at the time and at length to the officials as they came off at half time as well to no avail. He may have had a point but, equally, it could be argued that a man his sheer size should have asserted himself more strongly in the circumstances: domination of the penalty has never been his strongest suit.
At the other end, good interplay between Jevons, Carlton and Gary McDonald led to a corner from which Freddy Hall did well to punch the ball away for another one with 25 minutes gone but Northampton had the next chance of any note after 38 minutes when Laurence Wilson did brilliantly to catch and tackle Lewis Young who seemed to be just about to score. The ball went up the other end and Hall did well again to save a goal-bound header from Carlton with less than five minutes of the half to go. The visitors had the final chance of the first period, however: Ben Harding got behind the Shrimps` defence and Roche did well this time to push his fierce, deflected cross away from goal.
During the second half, with the gale at their backs, Northampton were initially by far the better team: more inventive; faster to the ball and much more mobile than Morecambe. Of the two sides, the visitors – to use an old cliché – clearly wanted it more. With just 51 minutes gone, Akwasi Asante set off an a powerful run through the home defence and – finding the men in red shirts backing off instead of trying to tackle him, unleashed a ferocious low strike from a long way out which comprehensively beat Roche at full stretch to send the Cobblers` commendably large and noisy travelling support behind the goal into raptures. It was only when they were two-nil down that Morecambe – led by Andy Parrish`s marauding runs down the left flank of the Northampton defence – began to play with any conviction or penetration. After an hour, Danny Carlton was guilty of the worst miss of the day when he headed over the bar when hitting the target seemed an easier option. Ten minutes later, Hall fumbled another testing cross from Parrish but got away with it. He redeemed himself – injuring himself in the process – when he managed to re-adjust to push another cross from Morecambe`s number 22 over the bar following a deflection. As the pressure mounted, Young was possibly lucky to get away with what seemed like an obvious handball in the Cobblers` penalty area after 74 minutes. Four minutes after this, the duel between Andy Parrish and Freddy Hall continued as the visiting goalkeeper saved a goal-bound shot from the Shrimps defender. A minute later, Hall did well again to push a header from Ellison away for a corner. Despite the mounting pressure, Northampton continued to play intelligently and quickly on the break. With an hour on the clock, Roche totally missed a cross which Nick Fenton had to hack away to safety and just over ten minutes later, Michael Jacobs had an effort well-blocked for a corner. With ten minutes left, Morecambe finally made a breakthrough: a prone Hall lost the ball as it bobbled in front of him in the penalty area: Kevin Ellison gratefully smacked it into the net. It might be expected that Northampton `s confidence – probably low after their recent poor run of results – might collapse at this point. But it didn`t. Indeed, they might have gone further ahead after 84 minutes when Roche was again at fault from a Cobblers` free kick: he dived at and completely missed the ball which, in turn, only just missed his right-hand post. Morecambe had the final chance of the game, nevertheless: in the third minute of injury time, Lewis Allesandra`s long-range screamer was only just over the visitors` bar.
Morecambe`s schizophrenic form thus continued today. They won at Gresty Road last Monday having lost to Crewe at the Globe last November. They had the opportunity to achieve the Double over their visitors today but in truth, they didn`t deserve to. If the Shrimps home form was replicated away from the Globe Arena, they would be in big trouble. Equally, if they exhibited their away form at home, they would be top of the table. This must be a real worry and probably a puzzle for Manager Jim Bentley. Despite today`s win, Northampton found themselves still in the relegation positions at the end of the match. On this showing, however, it must be said that Aidy Boothroyd`s team seem to be gradually moving in the right direction from his point of view.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Nick Fenton (C); 22 Andy Parrish; 15 Chris McCready; 19 Laurence Wilson; 30 Danny Carlton ; 18 Gary McDonald; 8 Garry Hunter; 10 Phil Jevons (29 Jason Price 82 mins); 9 Lewis Allesandra; 11 Kevin Ellison.
Substitutes not used: 12 Shaun Routledge; 6 Will Haining; 16 Stewart Drummond; 17 Andy Fleming.
Northampton Town: 26 Freddy Hall; 2 Lewis Young; 4 Jason Crowe; 5 Ben Tozer; 14 John Johnson (C); 28 Kelvin Langmead; 17 Michael Jacobs; 25 Akwasi Asante (11 Andy Holt 88 mins); 9 Saido Berahino (8 Jake Robinson 83 mins); 27 Ben Harding; 29 Blair Adams.
Substitutes not used: 13 Paul Walker; 20 Ryan Gilligan; 10 Adebayo Akinfenwa.
Ref: Mark Heywood.
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