Hatters Draw - But Whither Little Eric?
Tuesday 26th September 2017 1945hrs
Attendance: 1354 (326 from Luton
Luton rolled into town tonight looking for their fourth win on the spin to consolidate or even improve on their position as third in League Two before kick-off. More importantly for Morecambe supporters was the fact that a place on the Luton team bus was reserved for Little Eric, otherwise known as the Eric Morecambe trophy, which was also up for grabs as well as tonight`s three points. This particular piece of hardware has been in the Hatters` possession for almost two years to the day, since Town started a sequence of four wins in a row against the Shrimps by winning at the Globe Arena on the 29th September 2015. With star forward Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu sent off and failing in an appeal against his red card against Chesterfield last time out and Andrew Shinnie unavailable because of injury, Manager Nathan Jones was forced to re-shuffle his pack with the result that Glen Rea and ex-Bournemouth player Harry Cornick both started the match this evening. For the Shrimps there were four changes: Adam McGurk was unavailable due to the injury he picked-up last Saturday at Stevenage whilst Alex Kenyon, Aaron McGowan and Kevin Ellison were relegated to the bench to be replaced by Mitchell Lund, Elliot Osborne, Adam Campbell and Vadaine Oliver.
Luton had the greater share of the earliest chances with Harry Cornick, James Collins (after good work by strike partner Danny Hylton) and Dan Potts trying their luck only for Hylton to shoot over the bar himself during the first quarter of an hour or so but not one of these attempts troubled Barry Roche in the home goal. At the other end, Scott Cuthbert did well for the visitors to slide-in and block Oliver when the Shrimps` striker was shaping to shoot after ten minutes and Alan Sheehan hooked an effort clear only for Aaron Wildig to return it with interest from twenty-five yards only to see Cuthbert again do well to block his effort after 23 minutes. Five minutes later, visiting keeper Marech Stech did well to hold an in-swinging free-kick from Patrick Brough and just two minutes after that it was Sheehan`s turn to frustrate Wildig, this time throwing himself in the way of another long-range blast from the Shrimps` midfielder. With just over a half an hour played, Max Muller forced the visiting goalkeeper into a save before fellow central defender Steven Old tried to repeat his effort of Saturday but this time missed the target with a header from Michael Rose`s pinpoint free-kick. With 33 minutes on the clock, Adam Campbell came the closest of anyone to score so far when he cut in from the left and unleashed a tremendous strike which Stech did brilliantly to push over the bar. Just two minutes later though, the Hatters had their best chance to date when, after Hylton`s shot had been blocked, Roche managed to get his huge hands to a close range effort from Cornick and push it away to safety. With Wildig having to retire hurt after just 38 minutes to be replaced by Ellison, Cuthbert was again called into action as the Shrimps broke quickly from defence just before the half time whistle but the final chance of the game fell to Potts, who drew another marvellous save from Morecambe`s Irish keeper high up to his left from eight yards out right at the end of the first period. The teams thus went in at half time all square and probably deservedly level at nil-nil.
Luton forced a number of corners at the beginning of the second half but the first really significant moment arrived after 49 minutes when Olly Lee was booked for a crude mid-field foul on Garry Thompson after which Campbell appeared to be wrestled to the ground in the Town penalty area but nothing was given for this. With an hour played, the game remained end to end with half chances for both sides and Sheehan in particular being notable in the visitors` rearguard in keeping the Shrimps out. As Luton started to tighten the screws, Roche again did well to save from Collins after he had been set-up to shoot by good play by Jack Stacey and Luke Gambin after 65 minutes. But the play swept to the other end and Stech equalled Big Baz`s efforts with a tremendous double save to deny first Ellison and then Campbell on the rebound. Two minutes later, Lee and Rea combined to again block a shot, this time from substitute Andy Fleming. As Muller did well to cover a vast amount of ground to block another shot by Collins after 72 minutes, the game was still in the balance and too close to call. Morecambe came close to taking the lead when Thommo played a sublime pass to Fleming, who cut the ball back to substitute Callum Lang who headed his cross only just over the bar with only eight minutes still scheduled to play. Down the other end, Ellison`s header which half cleared a Luton corner was volleyed by Rea narrowly wide but at the end of the game, neither side had managed to break the deadlock.
Morecambe would probably be happier with the draw than their visitors, given that a club with a long and once illustrious history are many pundits` favourites for promotion from League Two this season. The result sees both teams drop in the standings: the Hatters to fifth; the Shrimps to twentieth. 326 Luton fans made the long journey to Lancashire tonight but the unanswered question is: did Little Eric go back with them? Do the clubs share the trophy? Do Luton keep it by default? Or wot?
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 22 Max Muller; 5 Steven Old; 17 Mitchell Lund; 21 Elliot Osborne (8 Andy Fleming 62 mins); 3 Patrick Brough; 24 Michael Rose (C); 15 Aaron Wildig (11 Kevin Ellison 38 mins); 7 Garry Thompson; 10 Adam Campbell (29 Callum Lang 76 mins); 9 Vadaine Oliver.
Substitutes not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 2 Aaron McGowan; 4 Alex Kenyon; 16 Sam Lavelle.
Luton Town: 1 Marech Stech; 7 Jack Stacey; 16 Glen Rea; 44 Alan Sheehan; 6 Scott Cuthbert; 3 Dan Potts; 22 Luke Gambin; 8 Olly Lee (Y); 14 Harry Cornick (10 Jordan Cook 81 mins); 19 James Collins (27 Aaron Jarvis 87 mins); 9 Danny Hylton.
Subs not used: 36 James Shea; 2 James Justin; 37 Frankie Musonda; 39 Akin Famewo; 21 Jack Senior.