Life Begins At 39. Apparently...
Saturday 24th February 2017 1500hrs
Attendance: 4672 (73 from Morecambe)
Even before a ball had been kicked at Adams Park on Saturday, this had been a good week for Morecambe. Crewe slipped-up again at home and lost 1-2 against Exeter on Tuesday and during the same evening, northern neighbours Carlisle came from behind to inflict yet another defeat on poor old Barnet. Wycombe Wanderers, on the other hand, were enjoying life at the giddy heights of the top of League Two in second position. They had won seven of their last eight games and have an excellent past record against the Shrimps, having won three times more contests than their opponents at nine victories to three. So if the team from Lancashire could manage even a point against Gareth Ainsworth`s side, that would be quite an achievement. Perhaps more importantly, however, things could be looking even better at the end of the ninety minutes for the team languishing in twenty-second position as far as the rest of the pack at the bottom of the division were concerned.
The visitors got off to a dream start on a beautifully sunny day in Buckinghamshire. Michael Rose took a trademark long throw after two minutes; the ball seemed to come off a defender`s head but Adam McGurk was able to joyfully head it home past Scott Brown in the home goal to put Morecambe a goal to the good. It could have got even better for the Shrimps after five minutes as Luke Conlan made good progress down the left and slipped a ball right across the Wycombe goal mouth: only a last-ditch interception by a Wanderers` defender stopped Aaron Wildig from scoring. As two visiting defenders were making sure `The Beast` - Adebeyo Akinfenwa - didn`t score his customary goal or two against Morecambe, Wanderers had a chance to equalise when Tafiri Moore`s cross was deflected to Luke O`Nein but his header was straight at Barry Roche between the visitors` sticks. As the home team started to get a grip on the play, the man who celebrated his 39th birthday yesterday produced a bit of magic in the twenty-sixth minute to put them even further behind. Kevin Ellison produced a thunderbolt of a shot from at least 25 yards out which gave Brown absolutely no chance as it rocketed past him into the top corner of the net. Kev received a belated Birthday Card from Referee Craig Hicks for his celebration of this effort which, unfortunately, was of the yellow variety on this occasion. It could have got even worse for the Chairboys after 31 minutes when Gregg Wylde`s cross fell slightly behind Wildig, who was unable to get as good a header on target as he hoped to. But Morecambe didn`t have long to wait for a further score when Ellison completed his celebrations of entering his fortieth year by scoring again - very appropriately - in the 39th minute. This time, he headed home unchallenged as a cross from Wylde came over again from the left. So Morecambe went into the Dressing Rooms with a lead which few people would have predicted - and good value were they for it too.
Instead of Wycombe giving the response that their Manager would certainly have expected at the start of the second period, the visitors almost went even further ahead within a minute of the restart. Wildig and McGurk again combined well on the wing before Wildig slipped the ball to Wylde, whose shot was only just wide of post. At the other end, though, the Beast was denied a goal after 49 minutes when his powerful header from a Joe Jacobson cross was brilliantly palmed away by Big Baz in the Morecambe net. But Morecambe entered dreamland after fifty-two minutes when McGurk played-in Wylde again, the Chairboys backed off him and the loanee from Plymouth took the opportunity to pick his spot and beat Brown with a shot low into the corner of the goal.
After this, Wycombe threw the kitchen sink at the visitors. Gareth Ainsworth re-shuffled his pack with double substitutions and one of them - Nick Freeman - scored with a low shot with virtually his first touch of the ball after 64 minutes. As it was All Hands To The Pump for Morecambe, Steven Old did well to head Tyson`s header away for a corner after 81 minutes. Four minutes later, though, Wanderers reduced the arrears even further when O`Nein converted from close range. But it was Too Little, Too Late for Wycombe and Morecambe managed to hold out without conceding any further goals. Having said that, the Shrimps had chances to extend their lead even after they went 0-4 up. The Birthday Boy was denied a hat trick after an hour by a tremendous save by the Chairboys` goalkeeper but he was probably lucky later not to be given yet another card after a wild kick in Nathan McGinley`s direction during injury time.
The Morecambe Manager suggested at the end that his team`s victory had a lot to do with the excellent surface at Adams` Park which allowed his players to perform at their best. The win pushes the Shrimps up a single position in League Two but they now have at least one game advantage over all the teams immediately around them. Although Forest Green, Barnet and Chesterfield all won today as well, the performance the Shrimps put on today was probably more important than the results of other teams in the division: if they continue to play like this, they can maintain their position in the EFL regardless of what their rivals manage to achieve during what remains of the season.
Wycombe Wanderers: 1 Scott Brown; 18 Tafari Moore (22 Nick Freeman 63 mins); 3 Joe Jacobson; 6 Adam El-Abd (C); 15 Nathan McGinley; 4 Dominic Gape; 17 Luke O`Nien; 10 Matt Bloomfield (29 Curtis Thompson 74 mins); 12 Paris Cowan-Hall; 20 Adebeyo Akinfenwa; 25 Craig Mackail-Smith (23 Nathan Tyson 64 mins).
Subs not used: 30 Yves Ma-Kalambay; 8 Marcus Bean; 28 Dan Scarr.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 6 Dean Winnard; 2 Aaron McGowan; 5 Steven Old; 15 Aaron Wildig (7 Garry Thompson 73 mins); 24 Michael Rose (C); 4 Alex Kenyon; 28 Adam McGurk (8 Andy Fleming 73 mins); 14 Luke Conlan; 21 Gregg Wylde (10 Adam Campbell 82 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison (Y).
Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 16 Sam Lavelle.