Morecambe 0 Newport County AFC 1: Five things we learned

Barry Roche was Morecambe's man of the match last night
Barry Roche was Morecambe's man of the match last night
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Morecambe suffered a third consecutive defeat when they were beaten 1-0 by Newport County AFC last night but what were the main talking points?

Fantastic February, miserable March

After such an excellent time last month, there was a glimmer of hope that Jim Bentley’s players could make a late run for the League Two play-offs.

However, three defeats in a week-and-a-half leaves them 11 points adrift of the top seven and perhaps focusing on a strong end of the season with momentum carrying them into the 2017/18 campaign.

Maybe some had looked at home games against Newport and Yeovil Town and, subconsciously, thought those matches constituted a routine six points given the Shrimps’ recent form.

What those games have shown, however, is that any side even slightly off-form in League Two is susceptible to defeat.

An unhappy anniversary

Jim Bentley’s 300th game in charge of the Shrimps might have been news to the man himself but disappointing home defeats have been all too common this season.

Having warned that County would play with freedom and a nothing to lose mentality, Bentley’s prediction came true as Mike Flynn’s side ran out deserved winners.

However, before the criticism goes overboard, there is also the question of fatigue; come the end of March, the Shrimps will have played 14 games - almost a third of their season - in two months.

That’s a schedule which would tax teams with large squads and the ability to rotate, let alone one with only 19 players available to the manager.

Man-of-the-match display

Barry Roche might have made a couple of mistakes which led to goals earlier in the season but there was no doubting who was Morecambe’s star man on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old made a number of fine saves which at least maintained their Shrimps’ hope of salvaging something from the game.

As the Morecambe manager admitted afterwards, however, the keeper was called into action more than the coaching staff would have liked.

Despite conceding seven times in his last three outings, Roche’s rich vein of form has been one of the contributing factors behind the club’s rise up the League Two table.

Fine margins

While there was no doubt that the visitors deserved something from last night’s game, it’s tempting to think ‘what if?’

Specifically, in the seconds before half-time when Antony Evans came within inches of giving Morecambe the lead from 20 yards out.

However, he was denied a goal in three consecutive games by the woodwork, meaning the scores were level at the break.

If it had dipped a couple of inches lower and found the net, then who knows how the second half might have panned out?

A costly slip

If a keeper’s role is one where a mistake will prove costly nine times out of 10, then a defender’s life is only marginally less stressful.

Morecambe loanee Alex Whitmore found that to his cost last night, when one clumsy challenge on Alex Samuel gave County their matchwinning penalty.

It might have looked a generous decision from referee Peter Bankes but the lack of an appeal from Whitmore spoke volumes.

That experience, provided he learns from it, will stand him in good stead wherever the Burnley defender’s future takes him.