PREVIEW: Luton Town v Morecambe

Morecambe could find what started off as a superb season settling into one of mid-table obscurity after a frustrating run of results recently.

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 6th March 2015, 12:54 pm

The Shrimps began by winning their first four league games and extended that to five from six, before suffering a dreadful sequence of nine defeats from 15.

They looked at times to have arrested the slump with wins over Luton and Hartlepool, but from the turn of the year, have drawn five straight matches, with the other six heralding just two wins and three losses, although they did earn a 1-1 draw at Oxford on Tuesday night.

The Shrimps came in for some criticism from their own supporters after a 2-0 defeat to Cambridge last weekend though, a sixth loss at home this term, but assistant boss Ken McKenna reckons that just proves their change in expectancy levels.

He told the club’s official website: “At the beginning of every season we were favourites to go down so for me, it’s a positive that fans are angry that we aren’t in the play-offs.

“That shows how well the club is doing as a whole. There’s a lot of big clubs behind us who would love to be in our position.

“We’re in a good position but we’re disappointed because we’re three or four points away from the target we set ourselves.

“Isn’t it great we’re all upset and angry that we’re eight points off the play-offs and not even closer?”

On their travels though, Morecambe have particularly impressed this season, sitting sixth in the form table, with six wins, four draws and seven defeats, claiming 22 points thus far.

It’s a sequence bettered only by Wycombe, Southend, Burton, Newport and Exeter, as they have claimed notable scalps at the likes of Burton, Southend, Cambridge and Newport, only losing once in 2015 away from home, that at a resurgent Northampton.

Off the field, boss Jim Bentley wasn’t able to do the business he would have liked during January though, as on the budget available to him, he told the BBC: “It’s a little bit like being in (the supermarket) and looking at a nice red wine or expensive vodka.

“Then checking your pocket and you’ve got nothing in the wallet, so you go home and you have a cup of tea or a glass of water.

“It’s frustrating because I do think a couple of players, a little injection, would hopefully kick us on.

“It is what it is, we haven’t got the open cheque book, we’re not in position where we can overspend.

“I’ve got what I’ve got and I’ve got to do with it.”

Team news: Hatters are likely to be without Mark Tyler (knee) once more as Elliot Justham should continue in goal.

Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Paul Benson are back in training, but are doubtful of being involved, while Nathan Doyle (knee) and Curtley Williams (shoulder) are both definitely out.

Morecambe are likely to announce an unchanged squad, but strikers Padraig Amond and Paul Mullin could start.

Top goalscorer: Hatters: Mark Cullen (12). Shrimps: Kevin Ellison (10).

Milestones: Town defender Alex Lacey will complete a half century of appearances for the Hatters if he features on Saturday.

Man in the middle: Carl Berry - official is yet to take Luton this season, showing 92 yellows and five reds in his 24 matches this term.

His last match was Colchester and Notts County in League One on Tuesday night, while he had 18 games last season, where he brandished 59 yellows, but no red cards.

First visit to Kenilworth Road since December 2012 when he refereed Luton’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Dorchester thanks to goals from Andre Gray and Alex Lawless.

The assistant referees are Steven Plane and Ian Rathbone, with Adam Matthews the fourth official.

In charge: Jim Bentley, 38-year-old, who had a lengthy career at just two clubs, AFC Telford and Morecambe.

Began at Telford in 1997, turning out over 150 times before moving to the Shrimps in 2002 and is something of a club legend, having made 328 appearances.

Was appointed player coach in June 2010 and became manager in May 2011.

Signed a two-year contract extension with the Shrimps in October 2013, as he is now the fifth longest serving manager in the country.

View from the opposition: Striker Kevin Ellison told the Visitor: “It’s a tough game, they’re (Luton) fourth in the league and going well.

“It’s a massive club, they’re getting nine or 10 thousand watching them.

“They’re good at home but if you look at what we’ve got, I don’t know why, we’re better away from home.

“We’ll go there confident we can get something.”

Assitant boss Ken McKenna added: “Luton are a massive club who are doing well. They’re on a similar run to us though.

“If you look at their last six games there’s not much in it, they might have one point more than ourselves and we’re sitting here disappointed we’ve not got a little bit more in the bank.

“It’ll be a tough game, John Still’s done great down there. They’ve got massive ambition but we can go anywhere and get a result.

“We’ll be looking to go and get something there this weekend.”

One to watch: Kevin Ellison - experienced and canny 36-year-old who is having another fine season, scoring 10 goals so far, including his 50th Morecambe strike.

Began his career with Conwy United, and has been transferred for fees of over £200,000 in his career, with Leicester, Stockport and Hull all shelling out for his services.

Played almost 500 league games now, scoring 109 goals in that time, and is a huge fans favourite with Morecambe since joining in June 2011, scoring a number of spectacular strikes.

Friendly faces: Defender Alan Goodall joined Luton in the summer of 2007, making 34 appearances and scoring once in his season at Kenilworth Road, before moving to Chesterfield on a free transfer in August 2008.

Has been with Rochdale, Newport, Stockport, Fleetwood and Grimsby before moving to the Shrimps in the summer and has made 28 appearances so far, being booked six times.

Town midfielder Jonathan Smith came through the ranks at Morecambe and made his first team debut in the Football League Trophy against Grimsby in October 2005, scoring their final penalty in the victorious shoot out.

Was loaned to Fleetwood and Bamber Bridge during his time at the club before being released in May 2007, following the Shrimps’ promotion to League Two.

We’ve got form: Hatters have only hosted Morecambe once in their history, with the two sides drawing 1-1 at Kenilworth Road during a League Two encounter back in December 2008.

Hatters had gone ahead through Michael Spillane’s 51st minute strike, only for Danny Carlton to equalise just six minutes later.

Hatters: Conrad Logan, Ian Roper, Asa Hall, Jake Howells, Drew Talbot (Wayne Andrews 69), Michael Spillane, Keith Keane (Ed Asafu-Adjaye 46), Rossi Jarvis, Chris Martin (Claude Gnakpa 79), Kevin Gallen, Paul McVeigh.

Subs not used: Dean Brill, George Beavan.

Referee: Graham Scott.

Attendance: 5,664.