Shrimps bow out of the cup
MORECAMBE crashed out of the FA Cup as Southend picked up their first ever win over the Shrimps with a 3-0 triumph at the Globe Arena.
Two goals in the opening 10 minutes from Anthony Straker put the visitors in complete control and despite a better showing from the Shrimps in the second-half a late strike from Ryan Leonard put gloss on the scoreline for the Shrimpers.
Morecambe had previously gone seven matches unbeaten against the Essex-based side – winning six and drawing one – but the loss sees them exit domestic football’s oldest cup competition at the first round stage.
It also means the Shrimps have now gone four homes games without a win in all competitions, with the league now their sole focus for the rest of the campaign.
With virtually a full squad at his disposal for the first time this season boss Jim Bentley made two changes from last weekend’s impressive 1-0 away win at Burton.
Both Chris McCready [shoulder] and Marcus Marshall [hamstring] came in to make their first starts for the Shrimps since the last day of August, with Mark Hughes serving a one-match ban and Jack Sampson dropping to the bench.
There was no place amongst the substitutes for the North West’s League Two player of the year Jack Redshaw however, with the striker still feeling the after-effects following his much-awaited return at the Pirelli Stadium.
Before the game manager Bentley was looking forward to an even contest between two in-form sides but it was the visitors who started the brighter and they inflicted a nightmare start on the Shrimps.
With just seven minutes on the clock former Morecambe loanee Kevan Hurst outpaced Robbie Threlfall down the right-wing before fizzing in a dangerous cross which winger Straker was on the end of to chest into an empty net.
Shaken from that goal the home side failed to settle and just two minutes later Phil Brown’s side doubled their lead.
Full-back Threlfall failed to find a teammate with a throw-in on the half-way line and with the Shrimpers breaking in numbers midfielder Michael Timlin found Straker on the edge of the area and he immediately hit a low shot which deflected off a Morecambe defender and wrong-footed Barry Roche to make it 2-0.
It could have been three just minutes later as the electric Straker sprinted past Andy Wright but thankfully for the home side Roche was out quickly to deny the ex-Aldershot man low at his feet.
Bentley attempted to rally his troops from the touchline with his side struggling to put two passes together and veteran midfielder Stewart Drummond just failed to get enough contact on a chipped Andy Fleming cross to the back post and his effort flew harmlessly wide.
Despite that first bit of pressure for the Shrimps it was the Shrimpers who continued to look the more dangerous side and after Hurst caused havoc once again with his direct running his drilled cross was just too far in front of the outstretched Barry Corr.
With that miss giving Bentley’s men a glimmer of hope they pushed forward and after a flurry of corners captain Wright met a Ryan Williams’ set-piece with a thumping header which flew agonisingly wide of the left post.
Buoyed by that chance the Shrimps tried in vain to half Southend’s deficit before the break, with a long-range dipping shot from Williams being easily caught by Dan Bentley.
That effort came just moments after Brown’s fluent outfit nearly extended their lead even further but Ben Coker’s curling free-kick dragged just a yard wide of Roche’s left post as they had to settle for just the two at half-time.
After a very poor start to the first-half, the Shrimps were not going to make the same mistakes in the second and they started brightly after the break.
A backwards header from Padraig Amond which was cleared in front of ‘keeper Bentley was the best the Shrimps could muster though and Fleming was booked for a late challenge on Timlin as frustrations continued to grow at the Globe Arena.
And despite that home pressure it was the side from Essex who came closest to scoring the first goal of the second 45 as Roche palmed away a stinging effort from Corr after the Morecambe ‘keeper could only punch clear to the forward.
The former Sheffield Wednesday man was involved again just moments later but Andy Parrish slid in to make a crucial interception from Leonard’s low cross with Corr lurking for a simple tap-in.
With the game reaching the hour mark the Shrimps began to increase their tempo and the ever-growing Williams hit a powerful shot which curled just yards away from the bottom corner.
The dynamic midfielder was at it again four minutes later but his trademark free-kick was palmed over the crossbar at full-stretch by Bentley after the lively Marshall had been upended in the build-up.
Several corners followed for the Shrimps and it was from one of them that Bentley’s side should have found a route back into the game.
Williams delivered from the right and after it was flicked on by a Morecambe head the returning McCready could only volley over from inside the six-yard box.
Despite that glaring miss the Shrimps continued to up the ante on the Southend goal but it was the visitors who created the next chance as Hurst fired a ferocious effort from the corner of the 18-yard box which brushed the top of Roche’s goal.
That did not deter the home side from continuing to control proceedings and Southend captain John White had to be alert to clear from under his own crossbar following a defence splitting Williams’ cross.
With both Sampson and Joe Mwasile introduced into the action the Shrimps continued to push forward but it was the Shrimpers who continued to look more dangerous in the final third and the lively Leonard shot just wide with a fierce effort from distance.
The ex-Plymouth wideman would not be denied his first goal of the season just minutes after however, as he fired low and hard past Roche from the edge of the box to seal his side’s victory in stoppage time.
Morecambe: Roche; Wright, Parrish, McCready [Diagne 90], Threlfall; Drummond, Fleming [Sampson 72]; Marshall [Mwasile 77], Williams, Ellison; Amond.
Subs not used: Arestidou, Doyle, Kenyon, McGee.
Southend: Bentley; White, Kiernan, Prosser, Coker; Atkinson, Timlin, Leonard; Straker, Corr, Hurst.
Subs not used: Smith, Laird, Phillips, Payne, Thompson, Auger, Woodrow.
Referee: R Lewis
Attendance: 1,475 [159 from Southend]