MORECAMBE’S poor run of form at the new Globe Arena continued on Saturday with another disappointing defeat.
Although the scoreline may have flattered Oxford there are no doubts that after going eight games without a win, Morecambe are in the middle of a battle few would have expected at the start of the season.
Saturday’s game was similar to far too many this season. Morecambe played some decent football going forward but failed to make the most of their possession while at the other end they were undone by some sloppy defending, particularly at set pieces with Oxford scoring from two free kicks.
Assistant Boss Mark Lillis admitted that the result left his side in a fight.
He said: “The lads played some good stuff at times and to lose by such a margin was a bit of a blow. We are in a fight now but we will stick together and will work hard over the next few weeks.
“It is frustrating because no player wants to go home and tell his family they have lost again.
“We have to keep the belief that we can win games and stay focused and keep together.
“We won’t hide from the situation, we will stand up and be counted and we will stick together and pick some results up.
“We have been playing some good football but not winning matches and that is what the game is all about.’’
The game started with both sides eager to get forward. Morecambe went close on three minutes with an excellent Laurence Wilson free-kick smashing against the top of the crossbar from an acute angle wit Ryan Clarke beaten.
At the other end Oxford showed their threat when James Constable curled and effort from 18 yards inches wide of Barry Roche’s left-hand post.
Wilson tested Clarke again in the 18th minute with a low shot and Clarke again did well to catch a Stewart Drummond flick-on from a long Tony Capaldi throw-in as Morecambe looked the more threatening.
But all the good work was undone in the 29th minute as Morecambe once again conceded from a set piece.
Paul McLaren’s low free-kick was clipped on by Harry Worley into the path of Steve MacLean. Hus scuffed shot fell to the unmarked Asa Hall who was unmarked at the far post as he slotted home the loose ball.
Seven minutes later the Shrimps conceded again from another set piece.
Kieran Charnock’s tackle was judged a foul and the resulting free-kick was touched to Paul McLaren who curled the ball around the despairing dive of Roche for his first goal in two years.
Morecambe started the second half looking to get a quick goal back with Andy Fleming and Wilson firing wide but Oxford went 3-0 up with a goal of quality in the 64th minute.
Tom Craddock had a shot saved by the legs of Roche, but the rebound fell kindly for Oxford with Constable and MacLean combining well to set up Hall for a well placed shot that beat Roche low to his left.
The Shrimps’ frustrations were capped by a missed penalty 19 minutes from time. Tony Capaldi was bundled over in the box by Damien Batt but Wilson’s spot kick was well saved by Clarke.
Jack Midson had the chance to make things worse for Morecambe when he had a golden chance to make it 4-0 on 81 minutes but was denied by a fine Roche.
For Morecambe Wilson drove forward to the end and drilled a shot into the side netting as he looked to give the Shrimps a consolation strike.
Danny Carlton came on to a rousing reception and looked as though he should have had a penalty after being brought down in the box but the home side drew a blank and were left to reflect on another disappointing home date.
Morecambe: Roche 6; Holdsworth 6, Parrish 7, Charnock 6, Capaldi 6; Hurst 7, Drummond 6, Fleming 6 (Hunter 78), Wilson 7; Jevons 6 (rep Carlton 66), Spencer 6 (Hendrie 83). Subs not used: Walker (GK), McCready, Brown, Wainwright.
Oxford: Clarke; Batt, Tonkin, Wright; Worley; Heslop, McLaren, Hall, McLean (rep Potter 75), Craddock (rep Hackney 75), Constable (rep Midson 81). Subs not used: Clist, Eastwood (GK), Purkiss, Payne.
Ref: P Gibbs
Star man: Laurence Wilson.