Shrimps Stifle Imps
Saturday 24th March 2018 1500hrs.
Attendance: 1883 (c.500 from Lincoln)
Lincoln City visited the Globe Arena today for the first time since their promotion back into the EFL following last season`s mighty promotion-winning effort and fantastic FA Cup run. This, memorably, saw the team directed by the Cowley brothers beat Premiership Burnley at Turf Moor and account for numerous other clubs supposedly of a higher status before finally losing at Arsenal. The Imps` very first game back in the Football League was against today`s opponents: Morecambe weathered the storm at Sincil Bank last August to finally emerge with a 1-1 draw. Overall, Morecambe have lost three of nine previous EFL encounters with City and drawn four. Today, the Shrimps were hoping to emulate their experience at this venue last Saturday, when they beat high-flying Exeter 2-1 and improve on their re-arranged midweek fixture against Colchester, which ended in a pretty stale goal-less draw also at the Globe Arena. Before the game, Morecambe were eighteenth in League Two and looking anxiously over their shoulders at the relegation scrap at the bottom of the division. By contrast, City were in eighth position with at least one eye firmly fixed on the Play-Offs. The Imps were unchanged from their win over struggling Grimsby last Saturday but their Captain - Luke Waterfall - was still suspended following being sent-off at Mansfield at the beginning of the month. In a Shrimps` starting eleven which showed four changes from their line-up on Tuesday, Kevin Ellison had recovered sufficiently from a hamstring injury to start against the club he once played thirteen loan games for.
It was sunny and almost Spring-like as the game started on the north Lancashire coast. As was almost guaranteed in a game including such notorious bruisers such as Matt Rhead, however, what happened on a heavy pitch after this was not pretty. In a muscular contest, there were few chances during the first half and little of note to write home - or anywhere else for that matter - about. Eight minutes were on the clock when Neal Eardley took a central free kick for the visitors from about thirty yards out. He passed the ball to Jordan Williams who, in turn, squared it to Rhead only for Scott Wharton`s eventual effort to be blocked by Dean Winnard on the Shrimps` goal-line. Lincoln looked the most likely to score during the first period but the closest they came was just before the break. Rhead once again chested-down the ball to strike partner Matt Green but the man who sounds as if he has been named after a tin of paint allowed Barry Roche to take the gloss off his effort (sorry) by making a save in a situation where he might have done a lot better. That was more or less it but the teams went in at half time with visiting goalkeeper Ryan Allsopp not having had a single save to make.
It was a better contest to watch during the second half. Eardley crossed again after 54 minutes and Roche struggled to deal with it under pressure from Rhead but the Morecambe defence managed to scramble the ball away. Two minutes later, the Shrimps finally managed to fashion a chance but Sam Lavelle`s header from a corner was deflected away from the City goal. Elliot Whitehouse was then presented with a decent chance from Sam Habergham`s corner with almost an hour played but squandered the chance by missing the target with his header. The same player had another opportunity with 65 minutes on the clock but again failed to connect properly with his header from Eardley`s cross. Ten minutes later, substitute Ollie Palmer knocked the ball down for Whitehouse but the Imps` striker yet again fluffed his lines with an off-balance volley which again missed the goal. But Lincoln`s hearts would have been in their mouths during the seventy-seventh minute when Alex Kenyon`s shot hit Ellison and looped over a helpless Allsop only to hit the woodwork and go behind for a goal kick. With ten minutes still scheduled to play, Eardley gave away a free-kick which Morecambe substitute Adam McGurk smashed against the City crossbar with Allsop beaten again. There were a few half-chances for both sides after this but a muscular encounter resulted in a point being ground-out by both sides.
So Morecambe`s run of three home games in succession came to an end. Five points from a possible nine might have been better but boss Jim Bentley must have been happy that his team wasn`t beaten and competed well in all three games, keeping two clean sheets. Although the Imps` Official site repeatedly seemed to be labouring under the misapprehension that they had just drawn against Southend United, the point keeps the Lincolnshire side in eighth position in contention for a Play-Off spot. Morecambe, meanwhile, slipped one place to nineteenth. With both Crewe and Forest Green winning today, they are still far from being out of the mire. As Barnet kicked-off late against Luton, Morecambe found themselves ten points ahead of them. The Shrimps also still have a game in hand over the three teams between them and the relegation positions. In the unlikely event that Chesterfield are able to win all three games they have in hand on them, free-falling Grimsby - who lost 4-0 at Coventry earlier - would swap places with them in the relegation positions. So Morecambe fans can count their blessings: things could be an awful lot worse...
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 6 Dean Winnard; 2 Aaron McGowan; 3 Patrick Brough; 16 Sam Lavelle; 4 Alex Kenyon; 5 Steven Old; 29 Callum Lang (21 Gregg Wylde 66 mins); 24 Michael Rose (C); 9 Vadaine Oliver (28 Adam McGurk 66 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison (7 Garry Thompson 85 mins).
Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 8 Andy Fleming; 10 Adam Campbell; 17 Mitchell Lund.
Lincoln City: 22 Ryan Allsop; 23 Neal Eardley; 16 Michael Bostwick; 6 Scott Wharton; 3 Sam Habergham; 4 Elliot Whitehouse; 30 Alex Woodyard; 19 Lee Frecklington; 10 Matt Green (24 Danny Rowe (Y) 78 mins); 9 Matt Rhead (8 Ollie Palmer 59 mins); 14 Jordan Williams (26 Harry Anderson 59 mins).
Subs not used: 1 Paul Farman; 2 Sean Long; 7 Tom Pett; 15 James Wilson.