Voodoo Chile Dunbavin ain't Dunsavin'...
The last time this scribe reported from the Globe Arena - last Saturday - it was to sing the praises of outstanding Man of The Match home goalkeeper Barry Roche.
Tuesday, Big Baz took a well-deserved rest. He had literally nothing to do during the first half when the nearest the visitors came to making him earn his corn was right at the death when a header from Peter Murphy went well wide of the Morecambe goal. Later, he was called into action of a sort only a couple of times towards the end of the match. Even then, home supporters were hardly on the edges of their seats or biting their nails. Stanley frankly looked like they couldn't have scored if they had played all night. More alarmingly from their supporters' point of view, it seemed as if brand new Manger Leam Richardson's sole ambition this evening was to escape back to East Lancashire with a point.
But what am I saying? - if this was indeed the plan, who can fault his tactics? - they succeeded after all...
But why would Mr Richardson play so negatively? He must surely know - he has been a key member of the Crown Ground team over the last few years, after all - that no team on the planet has a better record against Morecambe than Accrington Stanley. Indian Sign, Voodoo - whatever you want to call it, Stanley indisputably have it as far as the Shrimps are concerned.
This is the sixth season in a row that they have faced each other in the Football League and the Shrimps have a truly measly two points to show from all the previous encounters: Stanley have won eight of the ten games played before Tuesday.
Is it an Indian sign? Is it Voodoo? Or is it simply that phoenix club Accrington think they just have to turn up to get the better of their Lancashire coastal rivals?
Whether this is the case or not, the only reason Accrington yet again failed to lose to the Shrimps was solely and squarely down to their long-time loyal and outstanding servant Ian Dunbavin. Like his opposite number Roche had done last Saturday against Rochdale, the Stanley goalkeeper basically kept the Shrimps at bay (ok: Morecambe Bay) single-handed.
He was first called upon to show his mettle after 21 minutes when he did really well to stop a shot from the Shrimps' best player, Jack Redshaw. Both players were involved again just four minutes later when Redshaw`s shot found the Stanley goalkeeper leaping brilliantly to the right top hand corner of his goal in order to keep it out. The resultant corner kick was hacked away from the Accrington line only for Lewis Allesandra to send it back right across the penalty area on the ground - luckily for the visitors, no home player was able to connect with it. A few minutes later, Andy Fleming picked out Morecambe`s Number Nine whose shot was confidently saved by the custodian in the Stanley strip. With almost a half hour on the clock, Dunbavin literally rose to even greater heights to deny Allesandra yet again from within his own penalty area - at the time, this seemed to be potentially a match-winning save.
But even greater feats were still to come...
The second half - played on a greasy pitch which became even slippier as the night wore on - was a carbon copy of the first with Morecambe the only team trying to actually win the contest. With forty-eight minutes gone, Dunbavin was yet again in the right place at exactly the right time when he did well to push a header from Allesandra over the bar. Morecambe's Number Nine actually beat the Stanley keeper a couple of minutes later but his fierce shot hit the bar and bounced away to safety. A goal seemed inevitable after prolonged Morecambe pressure but Dunbavin again foiled them by pushing another goal-bound shot onto the bar after 52 minutes. As his defence parted for the umpteenth time seven minutes later, only Lady Luck could explain why efforts from Kevin Ellison, Redshaw or Allesandra didn't end up in the back of the net: last-ditch blocks and Dunbavin's left hand post had more to do with it than the goalkeeper himself did. With just over an hour gone, it could be argued that Lady Luck intervened again: Rob Atkinson was booked for a foul on Allesandra which seemed to be committed within the Stanley penalty area. And Ian Dunbavin literally leapt to the rescue yet again after 72 minutes when he saved Gary McDonald's instant shot from Alessandra's cross.
Three minutes later, he was let off the hook when McDonald hit the ball low right across the visitors' penalty area only for no home players to connect with it. Again. But he had to earn his spurs once more with just five minutes left when he was equal to an excellent strike from Ellison. Once Accrington managed to take the game to Extra Time, it seemed that Dunbavin's heroics had earned the visitors from the east of the county a point that Morecambe's Lancashire rivals barely deserved. But he still wasn`t finished...
In injury time, Dean Winnard was booked for a foul on Kevin Ellison in the Accrington penalty area. Substitute Richard Brodie confidently stepped-up to take the resultant spot-kick. Only for Dunbavin to show that he wasn't Done Saving.
It was fantastic performance from him - Hats Off to the man.
Something else Off to his team-mates: they were absolutely hopeless this evening and deserved nothing from the match. Morecambe could and should have broken their hoodoo tonight and on virtually any other occasion against virtually any other team, they would have done. Stanley famously once met Dr Livingstone in darkest, deepest Africa.
This is where Voodoo comes from.
I just wonder if it has resurfaced in darkest, deepest East Lancashire...
The home team's first chance occurred after five minutes when a goal-bound shot was deflected for a corner.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Nick Fenton; 6 Will Haining (15 Chris McCready 73 mins); 16 Stewart Drummond; 8 Andrew Wright; 9 Lewis Allesandra 17 Andy Fleming; 18 Gary McDonald; 27 Jack Redshaw (10 Richard Brodie 70 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison.
Substitutes not used: 25 Andreas Arestidou; 22 Andy Parrish; 19 Joe McGee; 14 Jordan Burrow; 7 Izak Reid.
Accrington Stanley: 25 Ian Dunbavin; 2 Peter Murphy; 3 Michael Liddle (16 Yammy Osawe 66 mins); 4 Luke Joyce; 6 Dean Winnard (Y); 10 Will Hatfield (8 Charlie Barnett 55 mins); 12 George Miller; 23 Padraig Amond; 24 Lee Molyneux; 29 Rob Atkinson (Y).
Subs not used: 22 Andrew Dawber; 5 Toto Nsiala; 15 Bohan Dixon; 7 Craig Lindfield; 20 Jack Sampson.
Ref: Robert Madley.