Reporter Adam Lord takes a closer look at Morecambe’s 0-0 draw at Oxford.
Roche has another fine day in goal
It wasn’t so long ago that I wrote about how important a settled number one could be this season and Barry Roche seems to be going from strength to strength at the moment. Stats say goalkeepers can earn teams a good chunk of points over the course of the season and the popular Irishman is proof of that. Having returned from injury looking as sharp as ever he certainly kept Morecambe in the game at Newport before they went on to win and it goes without saying what a big role he played at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday. The penalty save will rightly grab headlines but given the nature of the kick, a really weak one as Kemar Roofe became the third Oxford player to miss this season, meant it was one of his easier saves of the day. It was more a victory for the work that Jim Bentley and his squad put in, Roche revealing post match he chose to dive to his left having watched tape of Oxford’s penalty takers with the club’s video analyst Matt Rushton on the morning of the match.
Bentley opts to keep the faith
A lot of the talk in the run up to the match was about what team Bentley would go with after the 4-2 humbling by Northampton. The Shrimps boss told me pre-match that he felt a knee-jerk reaction would serve no purpose. He underlined the point post-match, what if Morecambe had lost again on Saturday? Would he be expected to make five more changes? As it was he gave those who had let him down, as he put it, against the Cobblers, a chance to redeem themselves. That they did to a large extent as having sizzled in attack at times this season The Shrimps put in a performance that was built more on grit and determination. Losing Laurence Wilson and Tom Barkhuizen to injury Bentley’s men had to dig in with shots blocked by various parts of various bodies as the visiting defence threw themselves at everything. Having been so below par a week prior it was heartening to see such character on show.
Chances will come for the others
Despite the result I’m sure there will be continuing questions about a perceived lack of playing time for the likes of Andy Parrish and Paul Mullin. It looks like that is set to come over the next couple of weeks with the Oxford draw the start of a run of five games in 14 days. The fact that there has been debate about various positions in the starting XI shows that this is a Shrimps squad that has strength in depth like at no other time under Bentley with several players able to interchange without an apparent drop in the quality of the side. This theory will be put to the test starting with two big home games at the Globe Arena this week against Luton and Bristol Rovers.