Strong Boro take the spoils
MORECAMBE suffered their first defeat of pre-season as goals from Marvin Emnes and Scott McDonald earned Middlesbrough a 2-0 win at the Globe Arena.
In what was a dull first half Emnes showed Championship quality to give the North East side a 1-0 lead and despite the Shrimps’ attempts for an equaliser McDonald added a second late on.
Jim Bentley made five changes to the side which beat Burnley last Tuesday with Andreas Arestidou, Chris McCready, Ryan Williams, Alex Kenyon and Danny Carlton all starting from the off.
It was a quiet start to the Shrimps’ second home pre-season friendly of the summer, with both sides playing out from the back but failing to find a cutting edge up front.
Marcus Marshall – starting on the right of a front three – caused problems with his pace early on and his high cross was easily collected by Jason Leutwiler in a first 20 minutes which lacked goalscoring opportunities.
The Globe Arena had to wait until just before the half-hour mark to see a significant effort on goal, with Andy Fleming forcing the Boro goalkeeper into an acrobatic save.
After good work from Robbie Threlfall on the left, Fleming picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and unleashed a dipping shot which the back-pedalling Leutwiler palmed over his own crossbar.
Just minutes later and the Shrimps’ came close to an opening goal again but Williams’ thunderous effort flew narrowly over the crossbar.
Despite those chances the visitors began to showcase their quality and once Mustapha Carayol outpaced Andy Wright down the left, Kenyon came within yards of diverting the wingers cross into his own net.
The home fans then fell silent as McCready remained grounded after a goalmouth scramble but to the relief of everyone inside the Globe Arena he was soon back on his feet.
The Morecambe defender could do nothing to prevent the visitors from taking a first-half lead however, as Emnes silenced the Shrimps faithful.
Picking up a pass from midfielder Grant Leadbitter, the pacey striker rolled past two Morecambe defenders and calmly rounded Arestidou before slotting into an empty net to give Tony Mowbray’s side the advantage at the break.
The North East side continued to look dangerous after the interval and came close to doubling their lead on 49 minutes.
Forward Lukas Jutkiewicz cut in from the right and only the fingertips of Arestidou denied the ex-Everton man from finding the bottom corner with a curling effort.
Just five minutes later and Jutkiewicz was causing problems again but this time the ball fell to Emnes and his powerful shot was deflected wide for a corner.
The two Boro forwards combined again moments later but target man Jutkiewicz failed to get decent contact on an inviting Emnes cross and the ball trickled harmlessly wide
There was no let off for the Shrimps as Boro continued to pile men forward and Morecambe keeper Arestidou had to be at full stretch again to push Andy Halliday’s long range strike around the post.
With the Shrimps failing to make the ball stick up front chances came at a premium and Carlton could only blaze over when the Shrimps did finally muster an effort on goal.
As Bentley’s side searched for an equaliser the visitors continued to catch them on the break and Ryan Brobbel saw his well hit shot deflected narrowly wide of the top right corner.
The Championship side used all their experience to see out the remainder of the game and added some gloss to the scoreline three minutes from time.
Young defender Adam Jackson headed against the crossbar and veteran forward McDonald was on hand to head into an empty net from close range.
The former Celtic forward could have added another late on but shot wide after Barry Roche parried another Bobbel effort.
Williams tested Luke Steele with a long-range free-kick but it proved to be the final action of the game and the Shrimps’ suffered defeat for the first time this season.
Morecambe: Arestidou (Roche 68); Wright, McCready (Diagne 45), Hughes (Doyle 72), Threlfall; Kenyon (McGee 55), Fleming (Drummond 55), Williams; Marshall (Ellison 61), Sampson (Amond 72), Carlton (Mwasile 72). Unused subs: McGowan.
Middlesbrough: Leutwiler (Steele 45); Parnaby (Bennett 77), Williams (Jackson 86), Gibson, Halliday (Burgess 77); Whitehead (Dolan 77), Varga (Brobbel 77), Leadbitter (Reach 63); Emnes (Smallwood 63), Jutkiewicz (McDonald 63), Carayol (Ledesma 63).
Referee: J Simpson