Blue Mood - rather than Moon - In Lancashire
Saturday 14th April 2018 1500hrs.
Attendance: 3319 (1851 from Carlisle)
Morecambe`s record against Carlisle United in all competitions is dire: just one victory in fifteen previous competitive matches. Having said that, they were the better team when they drew at Brunton Park earlier in the season and would have won had they not missed a very debatable penalty awarded quite late in the game.
United have a tradition of taking the Shrimps` better players away from them, most notably Tranmere loanee Cole Stockton most recently following the poaching of Danny Carlton; Jamie Devitt and Shaun Miller during the last few years. Both Stockton and Devitt featured in the Carlisle first eleven this afternoon. Today`s encounter at the Globe Arena, however, had more than the usual bragging rights riding on it. For Morecambe - following a tepid display in midweek against Chesterfield where they all but conspired to throw- away a game they were winning easily at half time - the threat of relegation from the EFL is still a distinct possibility. If they play like they did in the second half on Tuesday night, they would have no chance of any points today. Carlisle, on the other hand, arrived in tenth place in League Two with one eye still firmly fixed on the Play-Offs, from which they were just four points adrift prior to kick-off.
For Morecambe`s nearest northern neighbour, this must have felt somewhat like a home game: 60% of the attendance were supporting the men in the blue strip. The Old Boys who returned with Keith Curle came back to haunt Morecambe as early as fifteen minutes when - following a bad foul by Luke Conlan on James Brown for which the Shrimps` player was booked - Jamie Devitt struck a sumptuous shot directly past former team-mate Barry Roche and via the bar into the net to put the visitors one to the good. The goal was no surprise - the visitors had been dominant so far. Morecambe Manager Jim Bentley - who could be heard loudly yelling instructions to his players throughout the first half - complained that one of the reasons his team lost at Cheltenham recently is that they were up against a physically bigger team against whom they were never really able to compete. Today, this was the case at times again - for example, five foot nine Dean Winnard was up against a man no less than five inches taller than him in the large shape of Richie Bennett. For much of the opening period, Carlisle was very definitely the better team. When Cole Stockton was fouled on the edge of the United penalty area, Devitt`s free kick was well saved by Barry Roche after twenty minutes. The big Irishman - returning from injury for the first time since Good Friday today - single-handedly kept the score down after twenty-five minutes with a miraculous save from Bennett`s header. However, as the half grew older, the Shrimps began to get a foothold in the match. A corner was worked to Garry Thompson, whose shot was blocked by Danny Grainger after 26 minutes and then Andy Fleming tried his luck from a long way out a couple of minutes later: his shot went just over the Carlisle bar. With almost half an hour played, Adam McGurk weaved his way down the Morecambe right and then sent over a tremendous cross which Callum Lang gleefully headed powerfully past Jack Bonham to level things up and register his tenth goal of the campaign so far. As United seemed to lose their way and their shape and Jim Bentley continued to make himself hoarse directing play from the sidelines, Michael Rose took an opportunistic shot which went just over after 34 minutes. After that, the home team probably just about shaded a half where they went from being second best early on to deservedly be on level terms at the break.
Once the game re-started, Stockton was clearly having his shirt pulled from a corner after 52 minutes but the Shrimps` defence got away with it. Up the other end, McGurk went on a tremendous run right into the heart of the Blues` defence a couple of minutes later but slipped at the vital moment and Bonham was able to save the resultant shot quite easily. Jamie Devitt blotted his copybook after a very obvious dive in the Morecambe penalty area after 68 minutes for which he was rightly booked but controversy arrived when there were 72 minutes on the clock. Roche came out of his goal to challenge substitute Ashley Nadesan and although he managed to punch the ball away to safety, he clearly also pulled the Carlisle player over as well. But referee John Brooks gave nothing and the Shrimps survived again. There was little quality during the second half and few other incidents to engage a crowd which was quieter than the Morecambe Manager for most of the time. Mike Jones had a couple of half-chances for the visitors and Bonham did well to keep out a shot from Lang right at the death after substitute Aaron Wildig had headed Fleming`s excellent cross over the bar but the game stuttered to a pretty tame draw at the end of the day. Jimbo will be happy with commanding performances from Sam Lavelle and Steven Old at the back and the fact that his team battled back to equalise after being second best early in the contest. At this stage of the season, a point is a lot better than nothing, which is what Chesterfield got when they lost at home against Mansfield earlier. The key game today in League Two was at Blundell Park. The teams took it in turns to lead as Barnet held Grimsby to a 2-2 draw which leaves both of them in trouble right at the bottom of the table but with the Mariners five points ahead of the Bees. With four games left to play, Morecambe remain in twentieth position, seven points clear of relegation. Carlisle, meanwhile, remain in tenth place, five points shy of the Play-Offs this evening.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan; 16 Sam Lavelle; 5 Steven Old; 6 Dean Winnard; 8 Andy Fleming; 7 Garry Thompson (9 Vadaine Oliver 76 mins); 14 Luke Conlan (Y); 24 Michael Rose (C); 28 Adam McGurk (15 Aaron Wildig 62 mins); 29 Callum Lang (11 Kevin Ellison 91 mins).
Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 4 Alex Kenyon; 10 Adam Campbell; 21 Gregg Wylde.
Carlisle United: 1 Jack Bonham; 3 Danny Grainger (C); 5 Gary Liddle; 6 Tom Parkes (4 Luke Joyce 45 mins); 8 Mike Jones; 11 Jamie Devitt; 14 Richie Bennett; 16 Mark Ellis; 17 James Brown (13 Jamal Campbell-Rice 70 mins); 23 Cole Stockton (30 Ashley Nadesan 59 mins); 29 Clint Hill.
Subs not used: 15 Louis Gray; 19 Reggie Lambe; 18 John O`Sullivan; 28 Kris Twardek.