Date: 19th November 2016 at 5:22pm
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Morecambe entertained Luton Town at the Globe Arena on Saturday with at least four aims in mind before the match: 1) To end the record string of losses at home in League Two this season which stood at six defeats in a row previous to three o`clock. 2) To try and recover some momentum in their faltering form generally which was underlined by a tame defeat at Coventry in mid-week which ended the Shrimps` FA Cup ambitions at the stage fans have got used to in recent seasons: the very first hurdle. 3) To indicate to their long-suffering supporters and staff alike that recent events – the loss of their star player last week apparently simply to balance the books in a situation where none of the club`s employees had been paid on time by the new owners who have recently taken over the club – isn`t to become a regular event. 4) To recover The Eric Morecambe Trophy from the Hatters, who have possessed it since beating the Shrimps home and away last season, reversing both outcomes of the previous campaign.

As far as the visitors were concerned, John Still`s successor as Manager last season Nathan Jones has seen Town recover from a sticky patch during September to be unbeaten in League Two in seven games which has propelled them to fifth in the table; seven points more and nine places higher than today`s hosts.

It was one-way traffic right from the off once the match kicked off with Barry Roche being forced into an awkward save from Danny Hylton after just four minutes; Cameron McGeehan and then Alex Gillead having shots blocked and then the team from Bedfordshire looking unavailingly towards the referee for a penalty after a hefty challenge by Alex Whitmore on Isaac Vassell all within the opening seven minutes. In fact there were ten minutes on the clock before any meaningful action was produced by the home team: Captain Peter Murphy was seemingly fouled by in the Hatters’ penalty area but referee Mr Toner remained unmoved. This was a rare interruption in a game which was being totally dominated by the visitors and it was no surprise when Hylton deservedly gave Luton the lead after 27 minutes, curling a tremendous right-footed shot round Roche into the bottom corner of the goal from just outside the penalty area. Almost straight from kick-off, Hylton tried his luck again in virtually exactly the same manner with the only difference this time being that the Shrimps` goalkeeper pulled-off a fantastic save. As the half progressed, however, Morecambe began to have more influence on the game. Their first actual shot on goal was taken by central defender Ryan Edwards after 33 minutes: it went just over the bar from all of 30 yards out after the defender had caught Hylton in possession. Five minutes later, Cole Stockton produced one of his trademark swivel and shoot routines and drew a sublime save from Christian Walton in the Hatters` goal but his next attempt after 41 minutes went right out of the ground. In the meantime, Hylton had drawn another good save from Roche and just after Stockton put the ball into orbit Kevin Ellison missed the target with a header when well placed only five yards out. So the visitors went in one-nil up and good value for the lead at half time but without having everything their own way.

Olly Lee had the first effort for the visitors after six minutes of the second half, producing a ferocious shot from 25 yards which was deflected for a corner which McGeehan headed over from seven yards out . Up the other end, Ellison had another splendid opportunity to equalise two minutes later when picked-out by a pin-point cross from James Jennings but his mishit volley when unmarked went wildly over the bar. Luton extended their lead after an hour when Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu found James Austin whose shot Roche was only able to push onto the bar. Vassell was quicker to react than the Morecambe defence and headed the ball into the unguarded net. The visitors could have gone even further ahead almost immediately afterwards but Roche managed to narrow Mpanzu`s angles and the forward shot into the side netting. But the goalkeeper was stranded after 65 minutes when Whitmore cleared another Hylton effort off the line following a cheeky back-heel from Mpanzu. It could have got even worse for a team which already has the poorest defensive record in the division: after seventy minutes, Hylton crossed the ball and Vassell steered it just wide when it seemed easier to hit the back of the net. Morecambe had no answer to Luton`s forwards all afternoon and when the game ended just two-nil to the visitors, they had actually got off very lightly. So their record run of defeats continued and on this showing they are going to lose even more. Jim Bentley might talk about bad luck when Alex Whitmore was perhaps harshly sent off following a challenge on Lee after 85 minutes when the ball was deflected off the man who brandished the red card at him but luck has very little to do with the predicament Big Jim`s club finds itself in currently: mismanagement and a string of broken promises which have been perpetrated off the pitch ever since the club moved from Christie Park is coming home to roost with a vengeance and Morecambe Football Club finds itself in a crisis entirely of its own making which new ownership shows absolutely no sign of even addressing, let alone tackling.

Luton`s win put them into fourth position and they took home the Eric Morecambe Trophy with them as well. And what would Eric have said about his home team`s performance which saw them fall still further into seventeenth place?

Yes, it`s got seven letters in it and starts with `R`…

Some things are much more important than the small-town politicking of football boardrooms or what happens on the pitch, however. There was a minute`s silence before the game today in memory of those thousands of men who died in the Battle of the Somme a century ago and sixty seconds` applause for Neil Marshall after five minutes` play. Neil was neighbouring Lancaster City`s Captain and number five who lost his own battle with cancer last Wednesday at the age of just 31. He leaves two young children behind and I`m sure the thoughts of everyone at the Globe Arena today will be with his friends and family.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 3 Aaron McGowan; 5 Ryan Edwards; 6 Dean Winnard; 8 Peter Murphy (C) (18 Rhys Turner 71 mins); 10 Lee Molyneux; 11 Kevin Ellison (7 Paul Mullin 71 mins); 16 Alex Whitmore (R); 21 James Jennings (Y); 23 Cole Stockton (19 Ntumba Massanka 82 mins); 24 Michael Rose (Y).

Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 2 Liam Wakefield; 20 Jack Dunn; 14 Luke Conlan.

Luton Town: 1 Christain Walton; 5 Johnny Mullins; 8 Cameron McGeehan; 9 Danny Hylton (Y); 15 Alex Gillead; 16 Glen Rea; 17 Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (4 Jonathan Smith (Y) 82 mins); 19 Olly Lee; 20 Isaac Vassell (14 Jack Marriot 80 mins); 36 James Austin; 44 Alan Sheehan (C).

Subs not used: 31 Craig King; 2 Stephen O`Donnell; 7 Jake Gray; 12 Craig Mackail-Smith; 23 Josh McQuoid.

Ref: Ben Toner