Referee Is A Bit Of A Coote...
Tuesday 14th February 2017 19.45hrs
Many Morecambe fans have a soft spot for Tuesday night`s visitors to the Globe Arena following the Barnet team and supporters` tremendous pre-match welcoming display before the Shrimps` first ever Football League game at Christie Park almost a decade ago. The Bees have been out of the League themselves since then and have also moved to a new ground in recent times. Morecambe drew 2-2 at the Hive at the end of last September, when Martin `Mad Dog` Allen was still in charge. Martin left to take up the challenge of getting Eastleigh into the League last December at a time he also discovered he was suffering from a serious heart condition and this correspondent at least wishes this most colourful of personalities all the best, not least because of the complimentary things he has consistently said about Morecambe Football Club and Manager Jim Bentley in particular over the years. David `Rossi` Eaves has taken over as interim manager and on his watch, the Bees` form has been extremely patchy and they have failed to win any of their last five League Two matches, losing three of them. Before tonight`s game at the Globe Arena, Barnet were twelfth in the division, just three points ahead of the Shrimps but having played two games more.
A crowd literally half the size of the one attracted by free booze and food last Saturday against Cambridge witnessed a first half of very few chances and little incident apart from something that happened half way through. Kevin Ellison attempted to add to the brace he scored on Saturday when he warmed visiting goalkeeper Josh Vickers` hands after six minutes with a low shot from distance but the visitors had the first clear chance of the game after fourteen minutes when Jamal Campbell-Ryce crossed for the smallest man on the field - Mauro Vilhete - to have an unchallenged header which, thankfully for Morecambe, he made a complete hash of by missing the target altogether. A potentially game-changing event occurred in the twenty-fourth minute however, when Shrimps` Captain Peter Murphy was shown a straight red card by what referee David Coote interpreted as a reckless tackle on Ruben Bover Izquerdo: the Morecambe bench clearly did not agree but the Bees` player`s histrionics as he rolled about on the pitch like a stricken man probably had more influence on Mr Coote`s view of the incident than anything else. It got even worse for the Shrimps after another contentious decision with 32 minutes played when the referee adjudged that Ryan Edwards had pushed John Akinde in the Morecambe penalty area. Akinde himself took the resulting spot-kick but Barry Roche pulled off a typically tremendous save to keep the ball out of the net and justice was probably done.
Ten-man Morecambe came out for the second half facing an uphill struggle to get anything out of the game. But although the visitors had the majority of possession, they rarely looked dangerous and created few good chances during the first third of the second period. Indicative of this was when first half Pantomime Villain Bover Izquerdo took a corner after 55 minutes which completely cleared his team-mates in the middle and drifted harmlessly out of play. Both sides had half chances - Morecambe`s best after Paul Mullin`s jinking run through the Bees` rearguard which ended with a shot wide of the post. But the deadlock was finally broken after 65 minutes when Tom Champion headed powerfully home after the Morecambe defence failed to clear a corner. Falling behind seemed to galvanise the home team and the Shrimps started to belatedly put pressure on the visitors during the latter stages of the match but it wasn`t all one-way traffic and the Bees had opportunities to extend their lead which a more dynamic or confident team might have converted. That being said, they had the final say almost in injury time when Roche again worked miracles to keep out Akinde with his legs for the ball to be hacked clear.
So, at the end of the game, Barnet had reversed their poor run and Morecambe had been beaten for the first time by anyone during 2017. The absolutely key incident in the game, without doubt though, was the sending-off of Peter Murphy a quarter of the way through it. Morecambe fans may still have a soft spot for Barnet Football Club but the soft spot most of them would imagine for tonight`s man in the middle is probably in a marsh somewhere. But - being a Coote after all - this probably wouldn`t bother him as much as perhaps it should...
The loss saw the Londoners move up to eleventh in the League Two table. The Shrimps fell back again to seventeenth.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 4 Alex Kenyon (2 Liam Wakefield 61 mins); 5 Ryan Edwards; 7 Paul Mullin (18 Rhys Turner 61 mins); 8 Peter Murphy (C) (R); 10 Lee Molyneux (27 Luke Jordan 80 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison; 15 Aaron Wildig; 16 Alex Whitmore; 19 Michael Duckworth; 24 Michael Rose.
Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 3 Aaron McGowan; 14 Luke Conlan; 21 Antony Evans.
Barnet: 12 Josh Vickers; 3 Elliot Johnson; 5 Ricardo Almeida Santos; 6 Michael Nelson (C); 8 Curtis Weston (39 Dan Sweeney 89 mins); 9 John Akinde; 11 Ruben Bover Izquerdo (Y) (16 Harry Taylor 83 mins); 13 Jamal Campbell-Ryce (39 Justin Amaluzor 90+2 mins); 20 Tom Champion; 32 Mauro Vilhete; 41 Charlie Clough.
Subs not used: 31 Kal McKenzie-Lyle; 17 Luke Coulson; 34 Ephron Mason-Clark; 40 David Tutonda.