Amond earns Shrimps derby win
MORECAMBE picked up their first Football League victory over Lancashire rivals Fleetwood in an extremely entertaining clash at the Globe Arena.
Padraig Amond scored the only goal of the game to see the Shrimps draw level on points with the Cod Army and earn a third win in their last five games.
The visitors did have their chances to earn a point from the game but a battling defensive performance from the home side meant Jim Bentley’s side hung on for the landmark result.
The triumph also means that the Shrimps are now eight points better off than they were at this stage last season, with Hartlepool the visitors to the Globe Arena on Sunday.
Bentley made two changes from Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Scunthorpe with Alex Kenyon returning in place of Andy Wright, while Kevin Ellison came in to make his first start since late November - replacing the injured Jack Sampson.
With a vibrant derby atmosphere being created by both sets of supporters, it was an energetic opening to proceedings at the Globe Arena.
It took just two minutes for the first sighting on goal and it fell to Shrimps’ midfielder Kenyon but the former Stockport man could only blaze over with his weaker right foot, following good approach play by Robbie Threlfall.
The travelling Cod Army were then on their feet minutes later but Matty Blair’s mazy run down the right-hand side deserved a better finish, with starman Antoni Sarcevic firing over from close range.
Ellison - who signed a new contract with the Shrimps this week - was next to try his luck on goal but the winger sliced his shot high and wide after a tame header clear from ex-Morecambe defender Ryan Cresswell fell invitingly into his path.
The tempo of the game then hit a temporary lull as both sides tried to settle into the Boxing Day clash but it soon found its spark again - and in some style.
Stewart Drummond switched play to find Threlfall on the left and the Shrimps’ no.3 took one touch before delivering an inch-perfect cross into the box which Amond headed towards goal and across Scott Davies into the bottom corner of the Fleetwood net.
Frustrated by that goal and having to endure taunts from the home fans, the Cod Army pushed forward in search of an instant equaliser but had to wait six minutes for their next clear-cut chance.
That fell to on-loan Leeds United full-back Charlie Taylor but under pressure from Kenyon he smashed his shot narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Bentley’s side managed to take some of the sting out of the game with the visitors beginning to dominate possession, but it was the Shrimps who still looked dangerous in attack with Jack Redshaw snatching at a shot on the edge of the area which flew over the bar.
As half-time loomed, Graham Alexander’s side did eventually manage to send an onslaught on the home goal with captain Mark Roberts seeing a free header from a Sarcevic free-kick easily held by Barry Roche, before Gareth Evans and striker David Ball combined well but the latter could only curl his powerful shot into the Omega Holiday’s stand.
Despite that pressure the Shrimps continued to create opportunities of their own and former Shrimp Davies had to be alert to palm a long-range strike from the dangerous Redshaw around the post.
The pattern of the game soon returned to a Fleetwood dominated-one however, and Roche had to be at his best to push a stinging drive from Evans around the post, before Sarcevic dragged a shot wide of the Morecambe goal after he was neatly played in by Blair.
To the relief of the home faithful referee Paul Tierney then blew for the interval, with Town boss Alexander using that time to switch to a more attacking 4-3-3 formation, with Jon Parkin and ex-Liverpool trialist Daniel Carr both thrown into the action.
Those changes made an instant impression on the match, with midfielder Jeff Hughes finding space to unleash a 25-yard piledriver which drifted just yards wide of the Morecambe goal.
The visitors kept up that pressure and substitute Carr outpaced the Shrimps’ back-line but his pacey low cross was just too quick for his strike partner Ball who failed to make contact on the slide.
Now camped inside the Morecambe half, the Cod Army threw more players forward but a hardworking Shrimps’ midfield and resilient back four reduced the Fylde-coast club to just a few half chances.
Frustrated by the lack of clear openings and with the home side growing disillusioned with a lack of possession the game threatened to boil over but yellow cards handed out to Fleetwood full-backs Taylor and Conor McLaughlin were the only cautions in an extremely competitive Lancashire derby.
With the pressure relentless on the Morecambe goal the only option for Bentley’s side was to use the counter-attack and with 17 minutes left on the clock they came close to the perfect breakaway.
Redshaw escaped down the left and after twisting and turning inside the box he found Ellison who hit a first time effort at goal which Davies superbly blocked at full stretch.
Veteran wideman Ellison hit a speculative volley wide as the game entered its closing stages, before substitute Tony Diagne hit a ferocious long-range strike which flew just inches over the Fleetwood crossbar.
Those chances were just minor relief for the home side though, as Parkin saw a free-kick from the edge of the area blocked by the wall, before skipper Mark Hughes made a dramatic 90th minute block to deny Roberts on the line.
Bentley threw Joe Mwasile into the action to run down the clock and with the Morecambe rearguard proving unbreakable the Shrimps held on for a famous victory.
Morecambe [4-3-3]: Roche; Parrish, McCready, Hughes [c], Threlfall; Drummond, Kenyon, Fleming; Amond [Diagne 74], Redshaw [Mwasile 90], Ellison [McGee 84]
Unused subs: Arestidou, McGowan, Doyle, Williams
Fleetwood [4-5-1]: Davies; McLaughlin, Cresswell, Roberts [c], Taylor; Blair [Parkin 45], Murdoch [Crowther 80], Sarcevic, Hughes, Evans [Carr 45]; Ball
Unused subs: Lucas, Goodall, Hogan, Tyson
Referee: P Tierney
Attendance: 3,008 [829 from Fleetwood]