Date: 9th April 2016 at 5:03pm
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Morecambe`s record against Hartlepool United – unkindly known as the Monkey Hangers as a result of a notorious Napoleonic incident in the town – is nothing to write home about: they have won one and drawn another of the six matches played previously between the two clubs before Saturday`s kick-off at the Globe Arena. Of more concern to the home supporters, however, has been the Shrimps appalling run of results this calendar year. They beat Barnet at home the previous Saturday in a game which could have ended in a rugby score – so open were both team`s defences – but they contrived to lose again at seemingly doomed bottom club Dagenham in London last Tuesday night with a display as poor as anyone could imagine. If they continue to play like that, the points they accumulated during a decent start to this season will be the only thing that will prevent Morecambe accompanying the Daggers back to non-league football next term.

They couldn`t have started worse again today. Within six minutes, they were two-nil down and after a quarter of an hour could have shipped three goals without reply. First of all, Nathan Thomas forced a great save from home goalkeeper Barry Roche but the big Irishman couldn`t hold the ball and Michael Woods gleefully steered it past him to put United into the lead after just four minutes. Two minutes later, Thomas easily got past Shaun Beeley in the Shrimps` rearguard and took a shot which – as he desperately tried to deflect it to safety – Ryan Edwards only managed to steer past Roche into his own net via the crossbar. With just thirteen minutes on the clock, Thomas had another go from a difficult angle but his well-fashioned attempt just missed the target. To be fair, the hosts didn`t fold after these early shocks and Kevin Ellison found himself in a promising position after 25 minutes and his cross-cum-shot found its way to Alex Kenyon who hit an excellent strike into the bottom corner past Trevor Carson to reduce the arrears: the score was 1-2 at half time.

It didn`t take long for the visitors to increase their lead again during the second half, though. Outstanding player on the day Thomas waltzed past three Morecambe defenders as if they weren`t there after 51 minutes and curled a shot past Roche to make it 1-3 to Pools. It got even worse after seventy-four minutes when – after poor play by Edwards, Roche brought-down Brad Walker in the penalty area and was sent off for the second time in a month. With no reserve goalkeeper on the bench, Kenyon had to go in goal and his first job was to pick the ball out of the net after being comprehensively beaten by Luke James` spot-kick. The scorer was then booked for his over-enthusiastic celebration of scoring. But even with just ten men, Morecambe refused to meekly give in. Tom Barkhuizen pulled a further goal back after 86 minutes with a decent shot. But Rhys Oates showed who was really in charge when he turned the defeat into a rout for United right at the death, having been played-in by James.

At the end, it was a routine win for the visitors. For Morecambe, further storm clouds gather. The club is for sale, the gates are half what they were before Christie Park was abandoned and Manager Jim Bentley has no funds with which to improve a team whose defending is all over the place. Sinking ship? Not if Big Jim has anything to do with it – but even he isn`t a miracle worker. The Shrimps drop to nineteenth as a result of this latest defeat. The win propelled Craig Hignett`s Monkey Hangers into sixteenth place.
Ref: Carl Boyeson