Shrimps hold league leaders
MORECAMBE held league leaders Gillingham to a 1-1 draw at the Globe Arena and in the process extended their unbeaten home run to five games.
Jack Redshaw opened the scoring from close range with his 15th goal of the season, before Bradley Dack fired past Barry Roche to earn a draw for the Gills.
Morecambe remain in 13th place in League Two, while the visitors are now unbeaten in their last 12 away games.
Roche returned to the Morecambe starting XI after serving a one-match ban against Northampton, while Ryan Williams and Chris Holroyd came in for the injured Andy Parrish and the suspended Kevin Ellison.
The Shrimps reverted to a more familiar 4-3-3 formation to take on the League Two leaders, but it was a shaky start from the home side at a sunny Globe Arena.
First, Roche was lucky to be shown only a yellow card after he was adjudged to have handled outside the area, before Danny Kedwell came close to sneaking in between Roche and Chris McCready.
Although the Gills dominated proceedings in the first ten minutes, Jim Bentley’s side began to settle into the game and Nick Fenton was inches away from connecting with Lewis Alessandra’s deep cross.
Just two minutes later and the Shrimps nearly had Gillingham midfielder Michael Richardson to thank for scoring the opening goal of the game, but his wayward clearance flew just a yard over his own crossbar.
With the Shrimps now sensing a goal, Williams saw his ambitious shot comfortably saved, before Redshaw shot narrowly over after a weak clearance from Gills defender Matt Fish.
Despite that pressure, Martin Allen’s side looked capable of scoring on the break and Richardson probably should have done so when he was put in on goal by Antonio German, but the midfielder, on loan from Newcastle, hit his shot high over the Morecambe goal.
The Shrimps came flying straight back however and Stewart Drummond’s well-directed volley had Gills keeper Stuart Nelson back-pedalling, before Redshaw’s driven effort went narrowly wide of the post.
The home supporters did not have to wait long to celebrate the 26th league goal at the Globe Arena this season and it came from a familiar name.
After good work by Holroyd, Williams played Drummond in down the right-hand side and his low cross was diverted towards goal by Gary McDonald, but after seeing his tame effort blocked, Redshaw was on hand to tap in past Nelson.
It nearly got better for the Shrimps before half-time, but Redshaw and Holroyd failed to connect with Williams’ free-kick and they had to settle for just the one at the break.
Bentley’s men continued to edge the game after half-time and Holroyd saw his powerful low shot well handled by Nelson in the Gillingham goal.
All their hard-work was then undone however, as the Gills equalised against the run of play with a goal gifted to them by the Shrimps.
A low cross into the box was tamely cleared by Fenton and teenager Dack found himself unmarked in the box to calmly sidefoot past Roche into the bottom left corner.
The Shrimps tried with little avail to make an immediate reply and the Gills began to take control of the game as they went in search of their 12th away win of the season.
Forward German went close with a curling effort from a narrow angle, as the Shrimps failed to string any sustained spells of possession together.
The visitors came even closer to taking the lead with 14 minutes to go, as right-back Fish struck a ferocious shot which went inches over Roche’s bar.
Dack then found himself free in the Morecambe box once again, but this time his header went agonisingly wide of the post as Allen’s side pushed forward.
The Shrimps battled well for the final ten minutes and were unlucky to have a late Fenton goal disallowed after he was ruled to have fouled keeper Nelson and they had to settle for a well-earned point.
Morecambe: Roche; Haining (Threlfall 43), McCready, Fenton, Wright; Drummond, McDonald (Fleming 83), Williams (Burrow 72); Holroyd, Redshaw, Alessandra.
Unused subs: Arestidou, Doyle, Mwasile, Parkinson.
Gillingham: Nelson; Fish, Barrett, Legge, Martin; Dack, Frampton, Richardson (Allen 45), Whelpdale (Robinson 66); German (Burton 74), Kedwell.
Unused subs: Forecast, Lee, Davies, Muggleton.
Referee: G Sutton