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Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
Five Six Pick Up Sticks
By: Ian Townsend
AT a time when the papers are full of the trials and tribulations of a variety of clubs who have lived beyond their means, praise is due by the seaside bucketful to Morecambe F.C. - A league team for three short years, more than holding their own in League Two and on the verge of a move to a brand new stadium.
As the battle-bus meandered alongside Morecambe Bay it was hard to imagine a place less fitting of the description of "hotbed of professional football".
The facts however are plain to see. The football gods have no truck with tradition and history and so it is Grimsby Town who find themselves in a desperate battle to maintain their league status for at least another season.
A well documented poor display against Crewe in midweek meant that the game took on even more significance as Neil Woods's men sought to reassure the faithful that last Saturday’s fine result against Shrewsbury wasn’t a "flash in the pan".
The Town manager wasn’t helped by a lengthening injury list which saw Lancashire, Sinclair, Sweeney and Devitt unfit for action.
Town lined up with:
Bore, Linwood, Atkinson and Widdowson
Coulson, Leary, Peacock, and Hegarty
On the bench: Oxley, Jarman, Proudlock, Hudson, Bird, Chambers and Stockdale.
Morecambe, with play-off aspirations, boasted a potent strike force of Paul Mullin and ex Town favourite Phil Jevons.
Pre-match we were treated to a display by the "Shrimpettes". These kids should really question their (and that of their parents) sanity. It was cold. They were kept on the pitch for an age before the announcer tormented them further by asking for a warm welcome to be given to them. Quite simply if kids in Grimsby were asked to do that "Childline" would be inundated.
The players lined up for a further tribute to the late Keith Alexander, this time taking the form of a minutes applause.
The game began, and the pattern for the first half was set almost immediately. Morecambe with a strong wind at their backs doing all the attacking. Morecambe’s game plan was simple. Get the ball into the box as often as possible and attack it. Within five minutes Town had reason to thank Nick Colgan. The ball came into the box from the right and, with Town being unable to get it away, it fell to Jevons who’s point blank effort was brilliantly blocked by the keeper.
Although Coulson in particular tried hard Town were offering little in the way of attacking moves. The complete lack of an attacking outlet was summed up when Hegarty received the ball wide left. He advanced only to be checked when, having looked up he realised there was absolutely no-one to pass to.
Morecambe continued to press and only several timely interceptions especially from Atkinson prevented real danger. Town were playing a dangerous game allowing the ball to bounce on a pitch that had suffered greatly from the bad weather on the western side of the country. Add to that Morecambe’s wayward shooting and Town were holding their own.
Colgan again came to Town’s rescue when the ball broke to the edge of the box to be hammered back on the half volley through a sea of players. Colgan saw it late but still managed to get down at his post and scoop the ball to safety to warm applause from the fans behind his goal.
Town’s injury position worsened mid half when Peacock, the victim of a nasty challenge from behind, had to come off to be replaced by Hudson.
Just when Town thought they’d weathered the storm they fell behind. The ball was crossed to the far post where Mullin, so often Town’s nemesis in his former life with Accrington, got his head to the ball over Atkinson and the ball bobbled in at the far post with Colgan a spectator.
The goal seemed top spark Town to life and they missed a gilt edged chance to equalise within a minute. Wright found Akpro with what looked like an open girl but from five yards out the Ivorian could only balloon the ball over the bar to the anguish of the faithful.
An injury to Morecambe keeper Roche in the build up to that move necessitated five minutes of added time which Town saw out without too much problem.
HALF TIME: Morecambe 1 Town 0.
Neil Woods clearly aware of the effect of the wind, shuffled his pack for the start of the second half. Proudlock replacing the largely ineffectual Hegarty, with Akpro moving to the right and Coulson to the left as the manager sought to get some pace to worry Morecambe. Within three minutes though it was Town who got a let off. Another dangerous cross was met by Mullin with Town’s defence relieved to see the effort come back off the bar where Colgan gathered.
Town pushed forward but as often this season their intentions were undone by some wayward passing. However, somewhat against the run of play Town equalised. Leary found Proudlock who held the ball up well before nonchalantly flicking it into the path of the overlapping Widdowson. The young defenders cross eventually found Coulson who placed his shot through the legs of the keeper to send the Town fans wild.
What a difference a goal makes! Town pushed forward with Bore in particular getting into some excellent forward positions. Leary fired in a couple of fine shots as Town went for the win.
Although Mullin remained a danger and looped another header just over the bar, Town had largely snuffed out the danger of Jevons and the striker made way on 75 minutes.
The last few minutes were played out with both teams struggling to make further telling impact.
A fair few Town fans had mobiles tuned to the Internet where Cheltenham were being pasted by Burton as Town looked to move closer to their nearest rivals.
It’s an old cliché but football is a funny game. Four goals in the last ten minutes meant a win for Cheltenham and the point that most Mariners would have settled for before the game, decreased in value faster than the pound against the dollar.
FINAL SCORE: Morecambe 1 Town 1
Man of the Match: Only one real contender for me....step forward Nick Colgan. Two outstanding saves kept Town in the game and his general handling and kicking particularly with the wind, were exceptional.
Honourable mentions to the whole of the back four who dealt well with the threat of Jevons in particular and Hudson who acquitted himself very well as the replacement for Peacock.
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