Jim backs Cole to keep firing goals
Morecambe welcome Luton Town to the Globe Arena tomorrow, looking to bounce back from Tuesday's FA Cup first-round replay defeat against Coventry City.
To do that, however, will require Jim Bentley’s players to record a first home league win since August.
Having topped League Two four games into the season, a run of six straight league losses on home turf has seen Bentley’s side drop into the bottom half of the table.
However, the congested nature of the division means that, although the Shrimps are 14th and only four points off a relegation place, they are also only two points adrift of the play-off positions.
It is the defensive side of things which has caused most problems for the club this season, having conceded a league-high 31 goals from 16 matches so far.
Things are, though, better at the other end of the pitch with Cole Stockton already in double figures for this season.
The on-loan Tranmere Rovers striker made it to 10 for the campaign with a double in the Shrimps’ Checkatrade Trophy win against Bradford City last week.
It leaves Stockton, whose loan is set to expire in January, four ahead of another loanee in Liverpool youngster Jack Dunn.
“I don’t think Cole played as well as he could have against Bradford,” Bentley said.
“However, we have a lot of players who haven’t been regulars in teams over their careers.
“Cole has come through the ranks at Tranmere and people have questioned how he can come into a league club when he couldn’t get into Tranmere’s team in the National League.
“He was made up to get those two goals but there were a couple of headers he perhaps should have done better with.
“A lot of his play wasn’t as good as it can be but he’s pushed his goal tally up regardless.
“This is his first time coming into a club for a long period and we’re proving that we have developed a player – the proof is in the pudding.”
Luton make the trip north lying fifth in the table, three points off the top three after an eight-game unbeaten run.
Tomorrow’s game will also be a welcome distraction from a £15,000 fine imposed by the EFL for what the league believed were under-strength teams in their Checkatrade Trophy group campaign.
The £15,000 fine will be deducted from the £20,000 prize money gained so far.
Town chief executive, Gary Sweet, said: “We entered those teams with our eyes wide open and we accept that we would be fined for doing so. While we don’t feel we should be paying ‘fees’ to get our youngsters experience, we view that as an investment in their development.
“We acknowledge our breach of the competition rules, but does our ‘offence’ make a mockery of the competition any more than a club substituting their first-choice goalkeeper after just a couple of minutes of the game to ensure they met the five-player starting rule?”