Morecambe boss rues the Shrimps' shoddy set piece defending

Stephen Robinson admitted there was a big difference between Morecambe’s attacking and defending in their loss to AFC Wimbledon.
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The Shrimps were beaten 4-3 at the Mazuma Stadium thanks to Ayoub Assal’s injury-time winner.

It settled a game in which Morecambe had trailed at half-time before fighting back to lead on two separate occasions.

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Robinson had warned about the Dons’ set piece ability in the build-up to Saturday’s match and was livid at the manner in which his players conceded their goals.

Morecambe manager Stephen RobinsonMorecambe manager Stephen Robinson
Morecambe manager Stephen Robinson
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He said: “We worked all week on set plays and we conceded four set plays.

“I have to take the blame on that because we obviously didn’t work hard enough, even though we started working on it two weeks ago.

“Wimbledon have scored the most set plays in the league and scored another four today.

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“The second one came from a throw in, not set up properly, and if you’re a defender you have to make first contacts. We didn’t make enough first contacts all day.

“It’s difficult because you’ve worked on it all week and we know how good they are from set plays.

“I’ve worked with Ben Heneghan (Wimbledon defender). I know how good he is in the air and they scored a lot of goals from it, so we made everyone very aware of it but we didn’t defend it well enough - it’s as simple as that, so it’s very frustrating.

“I’m here to win games as well as entertain and people were entertained but, ultimately, we lost the game.”

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Anthony Hartigan’s early free-kick saw the visitors ahead at half-time, after which the Shrimps brought on Wes McDonald for Liam Gibson and changed from 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3 set-up.

Cole Stockton and Shane McLoughlin soon put Morecambe 2-1 ahead before Ethan Chislett brought the visitors level.

Stockton then restored the Shrimps’ lead with a 35-yard lob over Dons keeper Nik Tzanev, only for Will Nightingale to head home another Hartigan free-kick.

Assal won the match after Morecambe failed to clear a corner and left Robinson feeling sorry for his centre-forward.

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He said: “Cole Stockton doesn’t deserve to be on the losing team today with a goal like he scored.

“It was class, even his first goal was a great finish. Our second goal was a great goal but Cole’s, it’s goal of the season, there’s nobody beating that for me at any level.

“The vision, the accuracy from where he took the shot from was top class.

“It was an incredible goal, goal of the season already, but if you don’t defend set plays you’ll lose games, it’s as simple as that.

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“There were good periods, there were periods when we went 3-2 up where I thought we were going to run away and win the game but it wasn’t to be. Too many people didn’t play to the best of their ability.

“Going forward we were excellent. If you score three goals you should win the game, it’s as simple as that. Defensively we were poor.

“As I say, we didn’t win first contacts, we didn’t defend set plays well enough and we got bullied.

“Our four got bullied, simple as that, and as a back five including our midfield and goalkeeper we weren’t as good as we can be.”

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