Morecambe Tame The Beast. Sort Of...
Saturday 11th November 2017 1500 hrs
The Remembrance ceremony which commemorated the precise ninety-ninth anniversary of Armistice Day in 1918 preceded today`s matches in all football codes across Britain. This moment of collective reflection put the fixture between Morecambe and Wycombe Wanderers into perspective before kick-off at the Globe Arena earlier. Millions of people died during the First World War - nobody dies as a result of losing a football match. It just feels like it sometimes. The Shrimps have a poor record against Wanderers: they have only won two of their previous fifteen encounters, having lost nine, or most of them. Critically, they have never beaten them at Morecambe in any of their previous eight attempts to do so. With Max Muller unavailable to play against his home club and Garry Thompson lining-up against them for the first time since leaving at the end of last term, Jim Bentley`s side needed to get something out of today`s match to try and get themselves out of the mess they currently find themselves in: next to bottom of the League Two table. The Chairboys arrived in the lowest of the Playoff positions - seventh - and on the back of a victory in a potential banana skin at Solihull Moors, where they won 0-2 last Saturday in the FA Cup. Morecambe also won last Saturday in the same competition and must hope that the goal drought which ended then with a three-nil victory continues after their win in the Chekatrade Trophy success against Leicester City Academy during the week.
Wycombe were the first to try their luck when Ebere Eze took a shot within the first minute which Barry Roche saved easily in the home goal. Nick Freeman followed that up in the second minute with another shot which warmed the goalkeeper`s gloves but the hosts were soon threatening at the other end as Thommo slung a dangerous cross into the area which former team-mate Dominic Gape lashed clear. Thompson was again involved during the seventh minute when his cross was headed down by Kevin Ellison only for Aaron Wildig to hit his volley over the bar. A minute later, Wycombe`s least secret weapon Adebayo Akinfenwa unleashed a shot which seemed to be deflected wide. As the visiting fans loudly made their presence known, Morecambe came the closest to opening the scoring after fifteen minutes. Adam McGurk spotted visiting keeper Scott Brown off his line and tried to lob him with an audacious chip from all of forty yards which only just went over the bar. Both teams then had half chances - Wycombe via `The Beast` Akinfenwa with a header which Roche saved and the Shrimps through Andy Fleming, whose volley after 24 minutes only just cleared the crossbar. But Morecambe took the lead a minute later as Wildig crossed and Steven Old appeared from nowhere to power a tremendous header past the visiting goalkeeper at the far post. Aaron McGowan then did well to foil a good chance which fell to Scarr after 42 minutes with an acrobatic block. But the Shrimps went on to increase their lead with just two minutes still scheduled to play when Fleming chested the ball down following some neat play by Thommo and slipped it to Adam McGurk on the edge of the box. His instant shot gave Brown no chance and put the Shrimps two goals to the good. There was still time for Marcus Bean to miss a chance for the visitors and Ellison to also miss for Morecambe before half time but the Shrimps went in for the break two goals ahead and good value for it.
Perhaps predictably, Gareth Ainsworth`s men came out for the second half in more determined mood and dominated the next 45 minutes. Dominic Gape sliced a shot just over the bar after 47 minutes and the Beast did what he usually does, holding up the ball for others to try their luck and also shooting wide from a free kick within the opening quarter of an hour. The hosts had a decent shout for a penalty with an hour played, though, when Wildig went down under the challenge of Gape in the area. Referee Andy Haines was unmoved however. As the visitors continued to dominate play, Anthony Stewart played the ball out of defence in the 64th minute and passed it to Akinfenwa, who spun in the Shrimps` penalty area and unleashed an excellent shot which was equalled by Roche`s sharp save. Shortly afterwards, Big Baz again did brilliantly to keep out a long-range shot from Saunders but the Chairboys came closest to reducing the arrears in the 67th minute when Bean met Joe Jacobson`s corner only to see his header cleared off the Morecambe line. In a rare foray into the visitors` half, McGurk again tried his luck to no effect from a free kick after 73 minutes but Wanderers continued to boss the game. Barry Roche again saved his team with an outstanding stop to keep out Freeman`s volley from Craig Mackail-Smith`s cross with almost eighty minutes played. But he was powerless to deny The Beast in the eighty-second minute, who headed his almost customary goal against Morecambe and his tenth of the campaign so far from substitute Paris Cowan-Hall`s cross. The goal had been almost inevitable and it was merely a question after it arrived of seeing whether Wycombe could maintain their unbeaten record in North Lancashire by scoring at least one more or if Morecambe could finally overcome them on their own patch. In fact, Akinfenwa could have equalised just a minute after scoring his first goal but he headed Freeman`s pin-point cross narrowly wide. But try as they might, the Buckinghamshire side could not break through again, despite further half-chances and four minutes of injury time.
It was squeaky bum time throughout the second half for Jim Bentley and Shrimps supporters but they probably deserved their first-ever win on home soil against Wycombe for their dominant display during the first. For once, Morecambe actually took their chances whereas the opposition didn`t. The defeat makes no difference to Wycombe`s position in the table but it makes a huge one to the Shrimps. They were propelled right up the table to nineteenth position by today`s win, three points clear of Barnet, who took their place in the relegation positions above Chesterfield, who are fully seven points adrift of Morecambe tonight.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan; 16 Sam Lavelle; 5 Steven Old; 3 Patrick Brough; 4 Alex Kenyon (C); 8 Andy Fleming; 7 Garry Thompson; 15 Aaron Wildig (9 Vadaine Oliver 81 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison; 28 Adam McGurk (24 Michael Rose 85 mins).
Subs Not Used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 10 Adam Campbell; 17 Mitchell Lund; 21 Elliot Osborne; 29 Callum Lang.
Wycombe Wanderers: 1 Scott Brown; 4 Dominic Gape (12 Paris Cowan-Hall 68 mins); 5 Anthony Stewart; 28 Dan Scarr; 3 Joe Jacobson; 27 Ebere Eze (10 Matt Bloomfield 80 mins); 8 Marcus Bean; 7 Sam Saunders (Y) (17 Luke O` Nein 68 mins); 25 Craig Mackail-Smith; 20 Adebayo Akinfenwa; 22 Nick Freeman.
Subs not used: 30 Yves Ma-Kalambay ;2 Sido Jombati; 6 Adam El-Abd; 15 Matt Southwell.