Late goal sinks Shrimps
MORECAMBE’S winless home league run was extended to five games after a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Cheltenham at the Globe Arena.
Troy Brown’s late close-range winner means the Shrimps have now not won on home soil since that remarkable comeback against Chesterfield in early October.
It was a deserved victory for the Robins, who went close on numerous occasions, while the Shrimps missed a glorious chance to take the lead when Stewart Drummond headed wide from close range – just minutes before Cheltenham’s winner.
With no other League Two matches being played on Saturday it means Jim Bentley’s side remain in 10th place and just three points outside the play-off places.
Boss Bentley made four changes from last Saturday’s 2-1 win at Mansfield with Jack Redshaw making his first start since the final day of last season, while Andy Wright, Andy Fleming and Jack Sampson also returned to the Shrimps’ starting line-up.
That meant Marcus Marshall and the ill Chris McCready dropped to the bench, with Ryan Williams and Kevin Ellison missing out entirely – the latter recovering from a fractured eye socket picked up last weekend.
After a minute’s applause was impeccably observed in honour of Nelson Mandela, both sides battled hard to control possession in the early stages.
Once settled the chances began to flow at the Globe Arena, with the first falling to the visitors but after manoeuvring some space for himself pacey forward Jermaine McGlashan could only hit a shot across Barry Roche and wide of the left-hand post.
As the game opened up it was the Shrimps who were next to try their luck on goal following a neat and intricate passing move which ended with a powerful shot from Fleming which Robins’ ‘keeper Scott Brown did well to palm around the post.
That Shrimps’ pressure failed to prevent Mark Yates’ confident outfit from pushing forward however and they really should have been ahead just five minutes later, but Matt Richards fired a shot high and wide when Sido Jomati’s deflected low cross found him unmarked at the back post.
With proceedings so uncharacteristically open for so early in a League Two fixture, it was the Shrimps who created the next opening, with holding midfielder Alex Kenyon drilling a low shot from 25 yards which flashed past the wrong side of the Cheltenham goal.
Just moments later and it was the Gloucestershire-based side who should have broken the deadlock, but after Jason Taylor’s weak shot fell kindly into the path of McGlashan, Shrimps’ stopper Roche was out quickly off his line to deny the ex-Aldershot man, with the ball ricocheting back off the attacker and looping past the post.
There was no time for the Shrimps’ back line to get a breather though and Roche had to be at his best to acrobatically turn a thumping header from Byron Harrison over his own bar after he connected superbly with a Craig Braham-Barrett cross.
Despite that chance, the opportunities then began to dry up at the Globe Arena with both sides failing to find the killer ball to unlock the opposition defence.
The Shrimps thought they had found that piece of quality five minutes before the break however, but after Mark Hughes found Drummond – making his 600th appearance for the club – his through-ball was agonisingly too far in front of Redshaw and Brown collected.
With half-time looming both sides continued to create openings but it was the Robins who remarkably failed to go ahead just before the interval after an incredible goal-mouth scramble.
A mixture of last-ditch defending, inspired goalkeeping and woeful finishing saw Yates’ side miss four or five gilt-edge chances inside the Morecambe penalty area, which ended with full-back Braham-Barrett hammering a powerful effort wide as the half somehow ended goalless.
The Robins continued to be the more dominant side after the break, with the Shrimps struggling to get out of their own half.
On-loan West Brom midfielder Kemar Roofe hit an ambitious shot over the Morecambe goal, before he supplied the dangerous McGlashan who again controlled well in the box but just like in the first half Roche was out sharply off his line to spread himself and block the effort.
That save spurred on Bentley’s side and with their first attack of the second 45, Sampson cleverly diverted a header towards goal from Fleming’s curling cross but unfortunately for the Shrimps’ no.9 it landed on the roof of the Cheltenham net.
At the other end, Richards then tried his luck with a dipping 30-yard shot which Roche parried but then claimed at the second attempt, before centre-back Brown headed over at the near post.
As the visitors sensed just their third win in eight league games, wide-man Taylor connected firmly with a 20-yard volley which flew just wide and brushed the side-netting of the Morecambe goal.
With just 13 minutes left on the clock the match was then turned with two clear-cut chances, one of which was taken and one which was not.
Unfortunately for the Shrimps, they suffered the latter, as an inch perfect cross to the back post by Padraig Amond – following good play from Redshaw – found the onrushing Drummond but on his landmark day the veteran midfielder could only power his header wide from six-yards.
If that wasn’t bad enough for the home side, it got worse just minutes later as the visitors took a deserved lead 10 minutes from time.
A Richards’ free-kick was not dealt with inside the Morecambe box and Jombati headed across goal for fellow defender Brown to tap into an empty net, to the delight of the 104 travelling Cheltenham fans.
Bentley sent on winger Marshall as he tried to rescue a point for the Shrimps but with captain Steve Elliott marshalling the Robins’ back four, they stood resolute and were able to hang on for a vital away victory.
Morecambe [4-3-3]: Roche; Wright, Parrish, Hughes, Threlfall; Drummond [Marshall 87], Kenyon, Fleming; Redshaw, Sampson [Mwasile 69], Amond
Subs not used: Arestidou, Diagne, McCready, Doyle, McGee
Cheltenham [4-4-2]: S Brown; Jombati, T Brown, Elliott, Braham-Barrett; Taylor, Roofe [Cureton 64], Noble [Goldson 90], Richards; Harrison, McGlashan
Subs not used: Roberts, Penn, Ajala, Deering, Gornell
Referee: K Wright