Morecambe 1 Notts County 4: Five things we learned
Morecambe suffered their third straight league defeat on Boxing Day when they were beaten 4-1 at home by Notts County.
Two goals each from Jorge Grant and Lewis Alessandra did the damage with Callum Lang’s late goal the merest of consolations.
What else were the main talking points from Tuesday’s afternoon to forget?
Managers have said - and will always say - that players are featuring in the division they are in for good reason.
Yet Jim Bentley and the rest of his coaching staff could be forgiven for likening their squad to the ‘box of chocolates’ quote from Forrest Gump.
December 9 and December 23 brought excellent performances against Coventry City and Mansfield Town; December 16 and Boxing Day saw displays that were anything but.
While it shows anyone can beat anyone in League Two, it also proves the Shrimps’ coaching team never know what they are going to get from one week to the next - though some might also point out making four changes doesn’t exactly help with continuity.
One thing the Shrimps’ boss could not have foreseen was the extent to which his players shot themselves in the foot.
All four of County’s goals stemmed from defensive errors in one form or another, some more glaringly obvious than others.
Three losses in 24 games makes it clear why Kevin Nolan’s players are second in League Two with a seven-point cushion on the sides outside the automatic promotion places.
They may not have needed a leg-up in trying to gain three points at the Globe Arena but they definitely got one - and took full advantage.
Speaking of taking advantage, one of the glaringly obvious differences between the two sides was the visitors’ ability to find the net.
Six shots on target yielded four goals with Grant’s double taking his tally for the season to 16; almost as many as Morecambe have collectively.
Ironically for a side which has both scored and conceded plenty in recent years, the Shrimps’ improvement at the back has coincided with a goal drought.
Yes, woodwork has been struck and keepers have made important saves but the fact that Kevin Ellison is their leading scorer with five this season tells its own story.
Staking a claim
One player who did come out of the game with some credit in the bank was Lang, not least for his late effort which deserved to be much more than a consolation.
The Wigan Athletic loanee has three in his last four outings, two of those goals coming when he has emerged off the bench.
His introduction at least more balls played into feet in and around the area rather than the diet of long balls Vadaine Oliver had to endure for the first 66 minutes.
Bright, inventive and always willing to chase lost causes, it will be a major surprise if Lang hasn’t played himself into contention for a starting spot on Friday.
It feels somewhat strange describing a game in December, halfway through the season, as one that Morecambe have to win.
Yet that’s the scenario facing the Shrimps camp when Yeovil Town come to the Globe Arena on Friday night.
Yesterday’s loss left Bentley’s players 21st in League Two, two points clear of the relegation places and five points behind Friday’s opponents in 19th place.
That gap cannot be allowed to increase; if it becomes eight points, then it’s shaping up to be a testing second half of the season.