Stead-y for County
Saturday September 9th 2017 1500hrs
Attendance: 5305 (78 from Morecambe)
The last time Morecambe played a scheduled League Two match at Meadow Lane last year, the same rain gods which have blighted most of the summer ended play as the surface turned into a quagmire - the Shrimps won the re-arranged game in October 1-2 and then walloped Notts County at the Globe 4-1 in the return fixture last January just days before current boss Kevin Nolan took over as Manager. Since then, the Magpies` fortunes have improved markedly and they started today`s game in fifth position. They are on a fine run of form and since losing their opening fixture of the season 3-0 to Coventry, they remain unbeaten in League Two. The clash saw former Newcastle star Shola Ameobi leading the line for County and both Garry Thompson and Adam Campbell lining-up for Morecambe against a former club whilst increasingly well-travelled former Shrimps' forward Lewis Alessandra was warming the Notts bench today.
Ameobi made an immediate impact when he headed the ball just wide after a Nottingham corner with only three minutes played. And as the home team dominated possession, Barry Roche did well to collect a weak back-pass from Patrick Brough as County players bored down on him after seven minutes. Ameobi tested Roche with a curling shot after quarter of an hour and the huge Irishman celebrated his 500th League match with a typically excellent save to keep the effort out. A few minutes later, Jorge Grant played-in Terry Hawkridge and it needed a block from the visiting defence to divert the ball away from the target. Although Notts had dominated the play so far, Morecambe tried to hit them on the counter-attack and Steven Old headed a corner from a corner straight at Adam Collin in the home goal after 25 minutes. But the Magpies continued to dominate and after Michael Rose was booked for a foul on the ever-dangerous Ameobi, Dan Jones placed the resulting free kick perfectly over the Shrimps` wall and out of reach of Roche high to his left to put the home team one-nil to the good with 27 minutes on the clock. A couple of minutes or so later, Dean Winnard did well to block another effort from Ameobi which was sneaking in at the near post: perhaps fortunately for the visitors, Shola then had to retire injured after 41 minutes. Despite the goal they had scored and possession they had enjoyed, however, County looked far from assured when the referee blew his whistle for half time.
Morecambe took the initiative immediately during the second period with a succession of corner kicks. The closest they came to equalising at this time was when Old again headed Adam Campbell`s corner goalwards but goalscorer Jones attended to his defensive duties this time and hacked the ball clear after 49 minutes. But although the visitors had a lot more of the ball than they enjoyed during the first half, they failed to test Collin at any time with Thommo the only visiting player to even try and hit the target before Jon Stead showed them how it is done when he held-off Aaron McGowan and coolly slotted the ball past Roche to put his team two to the good and wrap-up three points for Notts into the bargain after 86 minutes. This must have been particularly satisfying for the County striker given that he had been flattened - albeit accidentally - in his own penalty area by an acrobatic effort from substitute Mitchell Lund only a few minutes earlier. Ironically, the Shrimps threatened Adam Collins` goal more often after Stead`s decisive strike than they had done previously throughout the match and the goalkeeper was forced to palm away an effort from substitute Elliot Osborne right at the death. But it was too little, too late for Morecambe and Kevin Nolan`s team came out on top on this occasion. Fellow-Scouser and Opposite Number Jim Bentley must be worried by the stark fact that the Shrimps have scored just one goal in their last five games now. Given that the club`s best striker so far - Vadaine Oliver - will remain unavailable in the short term after his controversial dismissal last week against Accrington, Jim must be wondering where the club`s next goal will come from. The loss puts the Shrimps in twentieth position, just a single point above Chesterfield in the upper relegation position. County slip seamlessly into the promotion positions in third place.
Notts County: 1 Adam Collin; 19 Nicky Hunt (24 Robert Milsom 70 mins); 5 Richard Duffy; 16 Shaun Brisley; 23 Dan Jones; 11 Terry Hawkridge; 4 Elliott Hewitt (Y); 22 Ryan Yates; 10 Jorge Grant (7 Lewis Alessandra 89 mins); 9 Shola Ameobi (14 Jonathan Forte 41 mins); 30 Jon Stead.
Subs not used: 34 Ross Fitzsimons; 3 Carl Dickinson; 6 Haydn Hollis; 17 Alan Smith.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan; 5 Steven Old; 10 Adam Campbell; 6 Dean Winnard; 3 Patrick Brough; 22 Max Muller; 24 Michael Rose (C) (Y) (21 Elliot Osborne 45 mins); 7 Garry Thompson; 15 Aaron Wildig (11 Kevin Ellison 68 mins); 28 Adam McGurk (29 Callum Lang 74 mins).
Substitutes not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 4 Alex Kenyon; 17 Mitchell Lund; 8 Andy Fleming.