Morecambe manager Stephen Robinson has warned his players they will be in a relegation scrap if they continue to concede so many goals from set pieces.
Poor defending in set piece situations cost the Shrimps once again this past weekend when Tommy Rowe’s 81st minute header gave Doncaster Rovers all three points at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Robinson says the telling moment of the game was the set piece.
“When you look back at the game, the telling moment was when we conceded from a set play,” he said via the Lancaster Guardian.
“The reality of the situation is that if we continue to do that, we will be in a relegation scrap.
“At both ends we are not getting enough contacts on the ball and we can blame everything else but we are in control of defending set pieces and we haven’t done that for two games in a row.”
It was the second time in a week that poor defending from set pieces had cost Morecambe dearly, after conceding from three of them in their 4-3 defeat to AFC Wimbledon.
In that game, after conceding an early free kick, Morecambe led 3-2 with 20 minutes to go, but conceded two goals from set piece situations in the final period of the game, including Ayoub Assal’s 94th minute winner.
“You can work on it as much as you want but people need to have the want and the desire to win their battles,” Robinson continued.
“We are very good in open play and we don’t concede too many goals from there but, when we get a set piece against us, we are in fear because we need people to take responsibility in those areas of the pitch.
“It is simple, your man doesn’t score. It’s simple because it is all about desire and not about coaching, talent or organisation. You just have to have the desire to head the ball and win your battles.
“The reality is that it is all about the small percentages and set pieces in this league are massive, and we have to improve in that area.”
Saturday’s defeat was Morecambe’s sixth out of their last seven in all competitions, leaving the Shrimps 18th in the League One table.
Robinson says that the reality is they will continue to struggle if they are soft at defending set pieces.
“The reality needs to dawn very quickly that, if we are going to be soft at set plays, we will struggle,” he said.
“Take the set plays out, we are more than a match for anyone in this division.
“We have some very good players but to win games at League One level needs a tough mentality.”
Morecambe have the chance to put Saturday’s defeat behind them when they face Crewe Alexandra in League One tonight.
Having been their downfall in two consecutive matches, it’s abundantly clear that Morecambe have a problem when it comes to defending set pieces and it’s costing them vital points.
Given Stephen Robinson’s comments that it isn’t a coaching issue, this suggests it will be up to his players to show more desire and take more individual responsibility, rather than any drastic change in approach.
Only time will tell if his call for more desire will fix the problem, but the longer it persists, the more likely Morecambe are to find themselves in a relegation scrap come the end of the season.