Redshaw seals Shrimps' win
JACK REDSHAW scored his first Globe Arena goal of the season as Morecambe ended their five match winless home league run with a dramatic 2-1 triumph over Bristol Rovers.
John-Joe O’Toole had given the away side a first-half lead from close range, but an improved second half performance from the Shrimps saw Padraig Amond equalise just before the hour mark.
Jim Bentley’s side pushed numbers forward in an attempt to pick up their first home win since 5 October and following a Jack Sampson header, which cannoned off the woodwork, Redshaw tapped into an empty net just four minutes from time to seal victory.
The win sees the Shrimps climb one place into ninth and they now sit just one point outside the play-off places ahead of a busy Christmas schedule.
Bentley made just one change following last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat against Cheltenham, with the suspended Alex Kenyon replaced by the fit-again Chris McCready.
That meant Andy Wright pushed into a central midfield position, with Redshaw and Amond providing the support for Sampson once again in attack.
Desperate to improve on their dismal home form of late, the Shrimps began the game on the front foot in blustery conditions at the Globe Arena.
A long punt over the Pirates’ defence by Irishman Amond freed Redshaw and despite finding himself one-on-one with a Rovers’ defender, the striker’s first touch was too heavy and goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall collected.
Just a minute later and the ex-Millwall ‘keeper had to be alert again but Andy Fleming’s 25-yard shot – following a precise passing move - was too central and the 34-year old claimed easily.
The early emphasis was not all on the home side however and with John Ward’s side sitting just one place above the relegation zone they also looked to find an early breakthrough.
With the wind getting stronger by the minute Lee Brown’s deep cross from the left swerved towards goal and Barry Roche did well to back pedal and claw the ball away from his goalline.
That chance came following a swift Pirates’ counter-attack and the visitors continued to find space behind the Morecambe back four, without creating any clear cut chances on the Omega Holiday’s stand goal.
At the other end, the Shrimps were making more of the wintry conditions and after another long ball over the Rovers’ defence, this time by captain Mark Hughes, Amond collected at the second attempt but could only blast over on the turn.
Stewart Drummond was next to try his luck on the Bristol goal but his acrobatic scissor-kick, following a cleared Shrimps’ corner, was headed behind.
The veteran midfielder – who made his 600th appearance for the club last weekend – was at it again just nine minutes later but this time his ferociously hit volley was deflected just inches wide of the top corner.
Vice-captain Wright then tried an ambitious 25-yard lob which floated harmlessly over the crossbar, before the visitors broke with numbers and made Bentley’s side rue those missed chances against the run of play.
A cross into the box was not cleared by the off-balance McCready and the ball fell to striker Harrold who swivelled and hit a low effort which was expertly saved by Roche but unfortunately for the Shrimps O’Toole was on hand to tap into an empty net.
Shell-shocked by that goal, former Wycombe forward Harrold nearly made it even worse for Morecambe, but after being played in on goal his scuffed shot was saved by the legs of Roche.
Trying to rally themselves, both Fleming and Redshaw blazed efforts over the Pirates’ crossbar, before the visitors could and should have extended their lead going into half-time.
A pacey break into the Shrimps’ half saw a right-wing cross from Michael Smith fall to Harrold in the penalty area but McCready made up for his earlier error with a last-ditch block, with the ball falling perfectly to David Clarkson who could only fire over the bar from the penalty spot.
The visitors continued to be the more dominant force after the break and Oliver Norburn found space on the right but attempted to chip Roche when he had the time and space to drive forward and manoeuvre a more threatening shot on target.
That effort appeared to spark the Morecambe attack into life however, with Sampson hitting a fierce left-footed drive which deflected narrowly wide of the Pirates’ left-hand post.
From the resulting corner the Shrimps nearly found themselves on level terms but after Sampson’s header was dropped by ‘keeper Mildenhall, the Rovers’ stopper was down quickly to deny Amond’s close range effort.
The pressure – now relentless on the visitor’s goal – finally told just minutes later though, as a well worked Morecambe move ended with striker Amond bagging his sixth goal of the season.
Rampaging full-back Andy Parrish delivered a low cross into the box which Drummond flicked on to find ex-Stanley man Amond to poke home past Mildenhall.
With the home fans now buoyant, Bentley’s men pushed forward in search of the all-important second goal, but with the Pirates in no mood to sit back and defend Eliot Richards skewed a shot wide after a mazy solo run.
Despite torrential rain now making the Globe Arena pitch an extremely difficult surface to play on, both sides continued to make it an exciting end-to-end encounter.
Robbie Threlfall – searching for his first goal this season – then curled a free-kick up and over the Bristol wall, which shaved the top of Mildenhall’s net.
With so much riding on the result, chances then dried up at both ends, with Bentley throwing on Marcus Marshall in an attempt to add more creativity to his forward line.
It was Ward’s side who fashioned the next opening however, and with just five minutes left on the clock Smith’s inch-perfect cross found Richards unmarked in the box but the former Welsh U19 international could only head wide to the dismay of the travelling fans.
And if the 203 visiting supporters were regretting that miss, their mood soon took a huge turn for the worse as the Shrimps immediately pushed forward to score the game’s pivotal goal.
Morecambe’s no.9 Sampson did superbly well to outmuscle his marker and head a cross against the post and with Bentley bemoaning his side’s lack of luck in the week, the ball fell straight at the feet of Redshaw who turned the rebound into an open goal to the delight of the home crowd.
The Pirates sent on-loan Preston striker Chris Beardsley into the fray as they urgently seeked an equaliser but despite some nervy moments the Shrimps held on to pick up a vital victory.
Morecambe: Roche; Parrish, McCready, Hughes [c], Threlfall; Wright, Drummond, Fleming; Redshaw, Sampson, Amond [Marshall 78]
Subs not used: Arestidou, Doyle, Diagne, McGee, Mwasile
Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall; Smith, Parkes [c], Lockyer, Brown; Clarkson [Harrison 82], Clarke, O’Toole, Norburn [Beardsley 88], Richards; Harrold
Subs not used: Gough, Harding, Santos, Keary, Southway
Referee: S Stockbridge
Attendance: 1514 [203 from Bristol]
Sponsor’s man of the match: Jack Redshaw