But For The Grace Of God...
Saturday 29th April 2017 1500 hrs
Attendance: Unknown - lots from Wycombe
Morecambe`s record against Wycombe Wanderers is nothing to write home about. In fifteen previous League Two games, they have never beaten the Chairboys at home and have lost no less than nine of the contests so far including the reverse fixture last year at Adams Park. The one statistical crumb of comfort is that the Shrimps` paltry two wins against the men from Buckinghamshire have come during the last two seasons. So were Jim Bentley`s team -safe from relegation this term unless a dire situation off the field still turns round and bites the club on the backside - going to buck the trend with a home win or were Gareth Ainsworth`s side going to make it three wins in a row to support their push for a play-off position from their ninth slot in the table prior to kick-off?
All-time Morecambe favourite, Kendal-born Garry Thompson, scored the equaliser against Exeter City at Wembley in the match which saw the Shrimps enter the EFL almost exactly ten years ago. Garry played his 700th League Game earlier this month in a Wanderers shirt and apparently posed the question `does that make me old?` afterwards. At 36, there`s probably more fuel in the tank yet and Thommo started today`s game on the field for the visitors rather than on the bench.
It was a pretty even first half with the world`s least secret weapon in the huge shape of Adebayo `The Beast` Akinfenwa creating predictable problems for the home defence such as when he took a hopeful pot at goal but missed after three minutes. Thommo tried his luck after eight minutes but his left-footed shot from 25 yards went wide of the goal. However, the Shrimps came closest to opening the scoring when on-loan Chelsea goalkeeper Jamal Blackman pulled off a tremendous save after eleven minutes to tip away a fierce drive from Morecambe skipper Michael Rose. Lee Molyneux made a good run down the Shrimps` left after nineteen minutes and slung over a cross from which Aaron McGowan`s effort was deflected away by Joe Jacobson for a corner. Shortly after this, Paul Mullin received the ball fortuitously in a good position but the combined attentions of Aaron Pierre and the visiting goalkeeper managed to smother his resulting shot. The play then switched to the other end and The Beast headed wide after twenty-five minutes following a good cross from Jacobson. Kevin Ellison then had another shot from the edge of the penalty area after 27 minutes but Blackman was equal to it again. Five minutes or so later, Danijel Nizic was called into action, punching the ball away from his goal line to be met by Thompson whose shot went narrowly over the bar. With ten minutes left, a long thrown eluded everyone and hit the Wycombe post and then Sam Saunders took a shot from all of thirty yards after 37 minutes for the visitors which also went high over the target. Morecambe had the last chance of the half though, when McGowan`s run from the back ended in a shot which Blackman again did well to hold with Mullin lurking dangerously to take advantage of any mistake by the goalkeeper.
With the score nil-nil, the second half continued in much the same way the first had: both teams pushed for a goal and both had chances to wrap-up all the points. Thompson showed his vast experience yet again after 58 minutes when he held the ball up expertly before laying it off to Luke O`Nein, who blasted his shot well wide. There was a further illustration of what Morecambe have been missing for the last few years when Thommo weaved his way down the wing and cut inside to unleash a shot which Nizic did well to push to safety after an hour. With their Skipper Paul Hayes having to leave the field injured, Pierre took the Captain`s armband and was soon booked after a tussle with Pantomime Villain Ellison with 73 minutes played. Three minutes later, he crossed after Dean Winnard had blocked Sam Saunders` goal-bound free-kick and substitute Paris Cowan-Hall headed the ball against the Morecambe bar. But just two minutes after that, Ellison turned sharply in the penalty area and lashed an unstoppable shot past Blackman to put the hosts one-nil up. The Beast shortly created a textbook chance for himself, trapping the ball, turning and shooting but Nizic did well again to deny him. The big man had the final say in today`s contest however when he bundled home the scrappiest of goals with only one minute still scheduled to play. So it ended all-square. The point is largely meaningless to Morecambe but a draw is always better then a loss. For Wycombe, their failure to win means that their fate is in the hands of other teams now: they fell to eleventh and their play-off hopes now rely on results elsewhere next week. This was Morecambe`s last game of the season at home and the fact that they have managed to stay in the EFL at all is a tribute to the Manager and the fighting spirit of his beleaguered troops. It could be the last time Jim Bentley is in charge at the Globe, given his understandable irritation with the way the club has been run off the field this season. Two hundred and forty miles away at Leyton, Orient supporters staged a sit-in on the pitch as a protest against the way their own team has been similarly mismanaged in recent times and its inevitable consequence: relegation to the non-league jungle on the day that old foes York City slipped even further into the wilderness of the pyramid beneath the National League. York were an EFL side last season. Orient have never been out of the Football League before today. So but for the grace of god...
Morecambe: 12 Danijel Nizic; 5 Ryan Edwards; 6 Dean Winnard; 16 Alex Whitmore; 3 Aaron McGowan (Y) (2 Liam Wakefield 84 mins); 8 Peter Murphy (17 Andy Fleming 55 mins); 4 Alex Kenyon; 24 Michael Rose (C); 10 Lee Molyneux; 9 Paul Mullin (26 Steven Yawson 77 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison (Y).
Subs not used: 1 Barry Roche; 14 Luke Conlan; 15 Aaron Wildig; 21 Antony Evans.
Wycombe Wanderers: 27 Jamal Blackman; 16 Michael Harriman; 3 Joe Jacobson(Y) (5 Anthony Stewart 68 mins); 2 Sido Jombati; 6 Aaron Pierre (Y); 8 Marcus Bean; 17 Luke O`Nein; 29 Sam Saunders; 9 Paul Hayes (C) (12 Paris Cowan-Hall 63 mins); 20 Adebayo Akinfenwa; 7 Garry Thompson (19 Myles Weston 82 mins).
Subs not used: 13 Barry Richardson; 10 Matt Bloomfield; 13 Dayle Southwell; 25 Dominic Gape.
Ref: Darren Drysdale.