Writer: Roger Fitton
Date:Sunday April 29 2012
People say that end of season games where neither team have anything to play for are boring affairs. But today`s threw up a number of pre-match questions. The first was simply - what IS an Argyle? Secondly - why wasn`t the Pilgrims` number three playing for Port Vale today? Thirdly: if the match became a bit feisty (which it did once or twice) could we blame the referee - with a name like his - for letting it boil over completely? And finally, if anyone gets the better of Jim Bentley`s long lost twin brother - who, spookily, also wears the same number five and Captain`s armband that Jimbo used to do in the Morecambe team - could it be truly said that they had him in their pocket?
That`s enough. Ok - end of season matches can be a boring affair and - particularly if you happen to be a Morecambe supporter - the first 45 minutes were a shocker. Not for the first time recently, Danny Carlton was caught in possession right at the beginning of the match. The man responsible - Ashley Hemmings` - fed the visitors` impressive Luke Young who was able to run unchallenged through the Shrimps` defence and unleash a fierce shot from about 25 yards out which beat Barry Roche low down to his left hand side. Nil-One to Plymouth . The visitors - with a very strong wind straight from the Urals at their backs - then continued to play the better football throughout the half. They should have gone further ahead after 21 minutes when a cross slung in low from their right flank was completely missed by Izak Reid to fall to Ladjie Soujouna, who appeared to be so astonished to find the ball at his feet in the middle of the Morecambe goal that he completely messed up his golden opportunity to score. Five minutes later, Young`s brilliance on the right - when he left marker Gary McDonald for dead - led to another dangerous cross which a more ambitious team than the Pilgrims might have benefited from. With half an hour gone, Soujouna cleverly played-in massive striker Steve Fletcher, who also wasted a good chance by smacking the ball high over the Morecambe bar. He did better a quarter of an hour later, however, when he unleashed a powerful drive from about 40 yards out, forcing an agile save from Roche to his right. With 33 minutes on the clock, Alex MacDonald took a free-kick for the visitors from even further away and only just missed Roche`s right hand post.
At the other end, there were the occasional flashes of talent from Reid as he danced his way up the right wing and Jack Redshaw showed that he, too, is potentially a box of tricks. Up front, Jordan Burrow got no change at all from a resolute Argyle defence; Craig Curran was largely anonymous and McDonald was unable to direct the game in any meaningful way from midfield. At the back, a niggly Will Haining failed to lead by example and the normally exceptionally reliable Chris McCready committed far too many fouls. All in all, this was a disjointed and lacklustre performance from the Shrimps and they were lucky to go in at half time only one goal in arrears.
Things must have been said during the interval, however, because the same eleven players who had performed so poorly during the first period suddenly started to play some neat, intelligent football. And as soon as they did, it was possible to see why Plymouth have struggled at times this season because they lost their shape right across the team and their discipline at the back gave way to panic stations on more than one occasion. Jordan Burrow signalled his intent after a torrid first half with a fierce shot within a minute of the restart which was not too far away. Just fifty minutes had gone when the same player equalised with an excellent downwards header from a superb cross by Garry Hunter, whose progress down the right wing had been exceptional. At the other end, Plymouth chances became fewer but a warning of calamity still to come arrived in the 58th minute, when Roche came for a cross and completely missed the ball. With just over an hour played, Redshaw was played-in by a long punt forwards but found Darren Purse not about to take any prisoners: the huge Centre Half simply booted the ball skywards for a corner and there was a suspicion that the diminutive Morecambe player might have gone with it if he wasn`t careful. Redshaw was badly fouled just a few minutes later, however, when Maxime Blanchard ended yet another impressive foray down the right wing: the Pilgrims` defender was rightly booked for this. By this time, it was All Hands To The Plymouth Pump and another goal for the hosts seemed inevitable. It duly arrived after seventy minutes when substitute Lewis Allesandra received the ball at his feet on the left hand edge of the Argyle penalty area and - seeing Ollie Chenoweth rapidly advancing towards him from the goal-line, brilliantly swerved the ball out of his reach into the net: he made a very difficult technique look almost laughably easy. Joe Mwasile entered the fray for the Shrimps straight after the goal and his first effort was immediate - trying and only just failing to lob the visiting goalkeeper from some distance. And so it went on, with Morecambe by far the better team. Until all their good work was undone in the eighty-second minute.
Barry Roche`s weakest suit has always been dealing with crosses, which he often does poorly particularly for a man of his sheer physical size. Today, he made a truly feeble attempt to punch a cross from his right away and before he had a chance to redeem himself, Captain Purse had headed the equaliser past him. Despite this, Morecambe continued to play progressive football and might have gone further ahead in the eighty-fifth minute when the quicksilver Allesandra weaved his way down the right and plonked a cross on Curran`s head which he steered against the bar. In the dying minutes, following more trickery from Redshaw, Morecambe had a string of three consecutive corners which the Pilgrims` defence dealt with without any conviction at all: the third one resulted in Chenoweth`s left post being struck with the goalkeeper a helpless spectator.
So that was it - a point each. We all know who put a certain word in Scunthorpe but it has to be said that Plymouth supporters must know only too well who put the word `grim` in Pilgrims: following this club in the last few years must have been an absolute nightmare. But fair play to Argyle`s fans: loads made the massively long journey to the Lancashire coast from Devon today and they supported their team with real gusto. Good luck to them. And even better luck to Morecambe for next season.
(* Ok - so what IS an Argyle? I`ve done some painstaking research and finally discovered from that infallible fount of all knowledge - Twitipaedia - that it`s slightly bigger than a Queuegyle but not quite as large as an Essgyle. Oh - and (far less usefully) - that it`s also some sort of knitted diamond pattern on a jumper or sock. So now we all know…)
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 7 Izak Reid; 6 Will Haining (C); 15 Chris McCready (Y); 22 Andy Parrish; 18 Gary McDonald; 8 Garry Hunter (Y); 12 Craig Curran; 27 Jack Redshaw; 30 Danny Carlton (9 Lewis Allesandra 60 mins); 14 Jordan Burrow (20 Joe Mwasile 71 mins).
Substitutes not used: 23 Chris Kettings; 24 Niall Cowperthwaite; 28 Joe McGee.
Plymouth Argyle: 33 Ollie Chenoweth; 2 Durrell Berry; 3 Robbie Williams; 5 Darren Purse (C); 10 Fletcher; 13 Ladjie Soujouna (Y); 15 Luke Young (Y) (21 Joe Lennox 82 mins); 20 Conor Hourihane; 22 Maxime Blanchard (Y); 31 Ashley Hemmings; 32 Alex MacDonald (Y) (29 Nick Chadwick 82 mins).
Substitutes not used: 23 Jake Cole; 14 Onismore Bhasera; 11 Warren Feeny.
Ref: Trevor Kettle.
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Date:Sunday April 29 2012
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