Big Baz`s Birthday Bash Blighted
Saturday 7th April 2018 1500hrs.
Attendance: 2420 (64 from Morecambe
Morecambe travelled to Gloucestershire today to face a Cheltenham team which were in fifteenth position in League Two before kick-off, five places and six points better off than their opponents albeit having played a game more. Gary Johnson`s side has little fear of being relegated as well as no aspirations for better things next season. The Robins` vastly experienced Manager told his men before the game: "Players need to show me they want to be offered contracts and stay here. I`m looking forward to the game and how we play. Morecambe are a tough nut to crack and no mugs."
Cheltenham`s recent form has been patchy - they lost at Exeter last Saturday and at home against Carlisle the week before that but had scored five goals at Crawley and three without reply at Swindon in their previous two away games. Historically, Town have a decent record against the Shrimps, having drawn four, lost four but beaten them eight times in previous meetings.
Barry Roche celebrated his 36th birthday today by failing to appear in the Morecambe squad: the calf injury he picked-up at Swindon just over a week ago had not improved sufficiently for him to even have a spot on the bench. Without him, though, the team from Lancashire started on the front foot. Kevin Ellison was denied after just two minutes by Scott Flinders - the Cheltenham goalkeeper and Captain led by example by somehow or other keeping out Kev`s fantastic volley with an ever better reflex save. Two minutes later, the 39 year old Morecambe striker hit the post after a long ball had been flicked onto him. The home team had a few half-chances of their own after this but the next strike of any note also came from the visitors. Alex Kenyon attempted a bicycle kick from the edge of the Robins` area with almost twenty minutes played but his looping effort landed on the roof of Flinders` net. Twenty-one minutes had passed before Cheltenham actually forced a save from Morecambe`s second-choice goalkeeper but Danijel Nizic did brilliantly to push Harry Pell`s diving header from a Joe Morrell free kick away for a corner. Michael Rose tried his luck with a long-range effort which the Robin`s goalkeeper saved relatively easily after 25 minutes and Nigel Atangana came close with a shot which whistled just wide four minutes later. But that was as close as anybody came during the first half, which ended goal-less.
It was a totally different story in the second period. Morecambe showed little of the resilience they have in recent times and no appetite at all to battle back into the contest once they fell behind after an hour. The goal was a bit of a fluke: Jerrell Sellars took a shot which hit Dean Winnard in the Morecambe defence and took a wicked deflection which looped the ball over a helpless Nizic into his net. But there was nothing fluky about the two further goals which Town went on to score. Although Jim Bentley shuffled his pack as soon as the Shrimps fell behind, they never looked likely to get back into the match. Just five minutes after their first goal and three after Morecambe`s double change, Will Boyle made it two-nil to the hosts with an unmarked header from a Harry Pell flick-on from Morrell`s cross. After 73 minutes, it got even worse for the visitors as Pell headed home Joe Lloyd`s cross far more easily than then he should have been able to. After this, it was merely a question of how many more the home team might score. Fortunately for Morecambe, they seemed to be happy with what they had already got.
This was a very poor display from the Shrimps, particularly in the second half and they got precisely what they deserved from the game: absolutely nothing.
The loss saw them remain in twentieth position in League Two. Elsewhere, there were a couple of key games in the struggle to avoid relegation from the EFL. Struggling Grimsby won what could turn-out to be a crucial game against Chesterfield. Meanwhile, Barnet - with `Mad Dog` Martin Allen belatedly back in charge - also won a `six-pointer` match against Forest Green Rovers. None of these teams are out of the mire and Morecambe`s chances of escaping from it were obviously not helped by today`s poor display. They remain six points clear of trouble but if they play like they did this afternoon for the rest of the season, they are far from being assured of safety...
Cheltenham Town: 24 Scott Flinders (C); 2 Jamie Grimes; 6 Nigel Atangana (27 Joe Rodon 75 mins); 7 Harry Pell; 15 Will Boyle; 17 Jerrell Sellars (21 Brian Graham 82 mins); 20 Mo Eisa; 25 Joe Morrell; 28 Taylor Moore; 33 Ilias Chatzitheodoridis; 50 Joe Lloyd.
Substitutes not used: 22 Rhys Lovett; 3 Jordan Cranston; 9 Danny Wright; 18 Matt Bower; 35 Jake Andrews.
Morecambe: 12 Danijel Nizic; 6 Dean Winnard (Y); 16 Sam Lavelle; 4 Alex Kenyon; 5 Steven Old; 14 Luke Conlan; 15 Aaron Wildig (7 Garry Thompson 62 mins); 21 Gregg Wylde (Y)(29 Callum Lang 62 mins); 24 Michael Rose (C) (8 Andy Fleming 81 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison; 28 Adam McGurk.
Subs not used: 20 Niall Maher; 2 Aaron McGowan; 9 Vadaine Oliver 10 Adam Campbell.