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Trouble at Mill
Trouble at Mill


By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 20/04/2021

I READ recently that according to a survey, it takes 9 shots on average to produce a goal. Prior to Saturday, we had 9 shots v Bradford, 11 v Cheltenham and 8 v Salford, which without checking all the statistics was probably better than most of the earlier part of the season.

On Saturday we had 28 shots, with 13 on target. Coupled with a determined team performance and good passing movement, if this isn't reason for optimism I don't know what is. But it doesn't get any easier. We're playing another promotion contender this evening. Colchester and Southend play each other so one or both are going to gain points. Everyone else is looking out of sight. We'll just have to get over our disappointment at not being invited into the European Super League and beat Morecambe.

Today's XI was: McKeown - Clifton, Hewitt, Menayese, Habergham - Clifton, Lamy, Matete, Spokes, Khouri - John-Lewis, Hanson.

Town started with possession. Spokes immediately put us in trouble, needlessly playing backwards and giving the ball away. Morecambe attacked. McKeown saved well. This gave Morecambe encouragement. A poor clearance did give John-Lewis a chance to lob the stranded Morecambe keeper Letheren but the lob landed in the Pontoon. Town picked up after a hesitant start but Morecambe passed well and patiently. Good work by Songo'o started a move and Clifton had to block from Mendes Gomes. Town were guilty of long aimless balls and posed no threat. The midfield was being bypassed and even when the ball was played on the ground, the quality was poor. Spokes and Lamy in particular were struggling. On 22 minutes Lamy was guilty of a poor touch. Hewitt couldn't retrieve the ball. Morecambe attacked. Stockton raced clear off the defence and slotted home. Town 0, Morecambe 1. Morecambe were superior in quality as Town continued to make mistakes. On 25 minute Spokes lost the ball, run it back and passed to Lamy but the pass landed next to the dugout. On 26 minutes Morecambe won a corner after Clifton did well to block a cross. Hanson headed clear. Diagourara passed out wide. The ball came in. Lavelle missed it. With Town's central defensive pair somewhere else, Songo'o found himself less than 5 yards out with just McKeown to beat. Songo'o won the scramble. Town 0, Morecambe 2. Town looked nervous and were paying for it. A Habergham cross gave Lamy a chance but the shot cleared the Pontoon and would have sailed down Blundell Avenue. Morecambe had nothing to do. On 43 minutes however Lamy battled well as did Hanson who supplied John-Lewis who fired a good shot from the edge of the box. Letheren made an acrobatic save. From the corner Hanson found Menayese who couldn't control the knee-high ball from 5 yards out and shot over the bar. Matete then was guilty of a misplaced pass. An infectious disease had set in. The art of inaccuracy was in full evidence. We were relying in big balls upfield. When the midfield wasn't being bypassed, the passing and control were atrocious. The prospect of recovery looked bleak.

Waterfall and Jackson came on to replace Lamy and Khouri for the second half. Town started on the attack. Spokes found John-Lewis on the right but Hanson hung back and failed to anticipate John-Lewis's low cross. It was then Morecambe's turn. Diagouraga lofted the ball over Town's defence. Stockton ran on. McKeown charged out. Stockton chipped McKeown. In the only bright moment so far for Town Menayese anticipated the chip and managed to race back and hook the ball clear in contrast to Hanson's lack of effort and anticipation a minute earlier. If Town attacked, a foul would be committed de rigueur. First Waterfall was guilty, then John-Lewis. One for our Performance Analyst there. Jackson had a blocked shot, then Matete found space but pulled his shot wide. There was a slight improvement from Town but Morecambe were tight and knew they had time on their side. Town went close on 64 minutes when Habergham was fouled and sent in a free-kick. Hanson and Menayese swung their boot and the ball slipped wide for a corner from which John-Lewis committed the statutory foul. The quality of Town's play reverted to type. Spokes was once again guilty when playing an appalling through ball which was supposed to go to Jackson but went out for a goal kick. Town were unable to break through on 74 minutes after a mistake by Stockton. As Town self-destructed with poor passing, Morecambe were in complete control, being happy to slow the game down. A Spokes error on 80 minutes started a Morecambe attack. Diagouraga and Songo'o worked the ball upfield. A pack of Morecambe slowly moved up in numbers. A low cross came in from the right. Waterfall went to cut it out and turned it into his own net. Town 0, Morecambe 3. Clifton was then booked for pulling down Mendes Gomes who was advancing after taking advantage after Spokes lost possession for the umpteenth time. It was all becoming irrelevant. Town were giving up. Embarrassingly Morecambe weren't trying to score but Town gave them every opportunity. Spokes committed a foul in the corner on 89 minutes. Town conceded two corners. The ball was cleared but 3 minutes later Menayese and Spokes between them were dispossessed in the Morecambe half. McKeown came out to make a save. The ball fell to Hendrie who, seeing McKeown off his line, tried to chip the ball in from 35 yards but the shot landed just over the bar. The whistle went for full time. Town 0, Morecambe 3. As good as Saturday was, this was awful. Town seemed overwhelmed for the whole match. Morecambe hardly had to do anything. Town weren't in it. In the end, it was like watching a funeral.

In the stats department, we had 17 shots of which 2 were on target, and had 61% of possession. There endeth the positivity. It's what you do with the possession and shots that count, as Morecambe proved. This was a template performance by a team bound for relegation. You can't go 2 down against an efficient side, play rubbish and expect to win. We're shot.

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