Date: 22nd August 2018 at 8:26am
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Cobblers at the Globe? Yes and No…

Morecambe have played Northampton Town fourteen times in the past. Their record against them is truly appalling; they have won only one of these matches. So far this season, the Dean Austin team which visited the Globe Arena tonight have lost one out of three league games. This was their first game of the season at home to Lincoln City where they went down by a single goal. Since then, they have drawn all the three other games they have been involved in (finally losing on penalties to Wycombe a week ago in the League Cup) but having scored five goals altogether; four of them in the League. That is four more goals then the Shrimps have netted in League Two so far. Yet – with the competition in its infancy, if Morecambe could manufacture a win against their southern rivals tonight, they would leap above them and almost certainly out of the relegation places at the very bottom of the EFL as well.

The Cobblers – playing in an all-yellow strip this evening – looked lively early doors. David Buchanan made progress down their left flank after five minutes and slung across a low cross which Barry Roche in the home goal got to before the on-rushing Sam Hoskins. Hoskins then fed team-mate Kevin van Veen a couple of minutes later but his shot from 25 yards missed the target. With nine minutes played, the hosts seemed to have had a decent shout for a penalty when Buchanan appeared to have brought down Liam Mandeville in the Town Penalty Area. But Referee Mark Heywood not only failed to give a spot-kick, he booked the Morecambe player for what he adjudged to be a dive. Northampton struggled to clear a corner after twelve minutes but shortly afterwards, van Veet again tried his luck with another shot from distance – and missed once more. With Hoskins and van Veet constantly looking lively for the visitors, the ball found its way to A-Jay Leitch-Smith after twenty-six minutes down the other end of the pitch. Leon Barnett did well to get in a challenge which took the sting out of A-Jay’s attempted shot and the ball was relatively easily saved by David Cornell in the Town goal. His opposite number Big Baz was also forced into action after half an hour but managed to block Matt Crooks’ fierce strike which was then cleared by his fellow defenders. Andy Fleming them came close for the Shrimps with 36 minutes played, forcing Cornell into a superb save to his right to deflect his header onto the bar and away for a corner. From this, the visiting defence was forced to collectively block another goal-bound effort; this time from Josef Yarney’s head. But the play swung to the opposite end of the field and Crooks wasted a decent chance from close range after being perfectly set-up by Dean Bowditch after forty minutes. In injury time, Cornell again earnt his corn with a good save from Jason Oswell which his defenders struggled then to clear. But the moment every Morecambe fan has been waiting for all season arrived during the second minute of first half injury time. Leitch-Smith latched onto a long pass from Fleming, outpaced the Cobblers’ defence and took the ball round their goalkeeper before scoring the Shrimps’ first goal in eight League Two games. Hallelujah!

The Shrimps carried on in the second period with the same momentum they had built-up during the first one. A-Jay came close again within a minute of the re-start with a shot which went just over the bar. Two minutes later, Cornell was forced into yet another smart save low to his left to keep out a long-range shot from Rhys Oates. Leith-Smith then forced yet another good save from Town’s goalkeeper after 58 minutes, forcing him to palm a half-volley away from the danger area. Oates then missed the target with another long-range effort after an hour. There were half-chances at both ends as well but Town seemed to be hoping that Kevin van Veen could change the match in their favour virtually single-handedly.

However, Shrimps’ supporters’ hearts were in their mouths for the final ten minutes of tonight’s contest. Barry Roche ran out of his area and flattened Northampton substitute Junior Morais in the eighty-sixth minute. Referee Heywood duly sent the huge Irishman off. With all their substitutes used, Jim Bentley had no option other than to put Alex Kenton in goal. And Alex had to put in a performance during the dying moments and the surely excessive six minutes which the match official added-on at the end of the game. He saved from Crooks, then Morais himself and fellow substitute Daniel Powell as Town threw the Kitchen Sink at him. But the stand-in goalie and his teammates managed to weather the storm and the game ended with Morecambe’s first league win and league goal of the season.

Jim Bentley has said ever since the catastrophe at Crewe that his team have shown progressive improvements ever since. This is true. Tonight, they fully deserved to win and must be commended for their fighting spirit particularly when they went down to ten men. Funny Old Game, Football. Crewe lost 6-0 at Colchester tonight. Notts County are now bottom of the entire EFL. Who’d have thought it? The Shrimps are now in twentieth position; one place above tonight’s rivals. Well done Jim; well done the lads – particularly Alex Kenyon.

Morecambe : 1 Barry Roche (C); 2 Zak Mills; 3 Luke Conlan; 5 Steven Old (Y); 8 Andy Fleming; 14 Josef Yarney (Y); 15 Aaron Wildig (19 Carlos Mendes-Gomes 86 mins); 17 Liam Mandeville (Y); 18 Rhys Oates (11 Kevin Ellison 66 mins); 12 Jason Oswell (4 Alex Kenyon (Y) 74 mins); 28 A-Jay Leitch-Smith.

Subs not used: 21 Mark Halstead; 27 Jordan Cranston; 6 Andrew Tutte; 10 Lamine Jagne; 25 Ben Hedley.

Northampton Town: 1 David Cornell; 2 Shay Facey; 3 David Buchanan; 5 Leon Barnett (Y); 6 Ash Taylor (C); 7 Sam Hoskins; 8 Sam Foley (21 John-Joe O’Toole 84 mins); 22 Matt Crooks; 9 Andy Williams (14 Junior Morais 64 mins); 15 Dean Bowditch (Y) (11 Daniel Powell 64 mins); 10 Kevin van Veen.

Subs not used: 34 Lewis Ward; 4 Hakeem Odoffin; 18 Jordan Turnbull; 19 Jack Bridge.

Ref: Mark Heywood.

1594 (230 from Northampton)