Wonder goal sinks Shrimps
MORECAMBE slipped to a third consecutive defeat for the first time this season against an in-form Mansfield side at the Globe Arena.
Substitute Colin Daniel’s sensational first-half free-kick was enough to hand the visitors a third win in a row and all but ensure League Two safety for the Stags.
The Shrimps, who had Andy Fleming sent off late in the game, are now six games without a win and sit just five points above the relegation zone with five left to play.
Jim Bentley’s side are now also four points worse off than they were at this stage last season, with a tricky trip to Fleetwood looming next weekend.
With the Shrimps looking to improve on their recent run of form manager Bentley continued to put his faith in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation, with last season’s top goalscorer Jack Redshaw returning to the starting line-up.
After a quiet start to proceedings Bentley switched wingers Jamie Devitt and Kevin Ellison in order to open up the Mansfield defence and just moments later the home side should have been ahead.
Stags’ defender Martin Riley failed to control a routine Ryan Tafazolli header and with Redshaw lurking the diminutive forward raced clear of the Mansfield back three but despite just having ‘keeper Alan Marriott to beat the Shrimps’ no.7 fired wide with the outside of his right boot.
Angered by that miss, Redshaw immediately picked up possession and sprayed the ball out wide to Devitt and after cutting in onto his more favoured right foot the on-loan Chesterfield man struck a powerful effort which bounced just a yard wide of the right-hand post.
Now in complete control, the Shrimps continued to probe the Mansfield defence and following a trip on Jack Sampson, captain Mark Hughes hit a driven free-kick from 40 yards which was well held by Marriott.
Despite that early home pressure the visitors managed to disrupt the home side’s flow and just before the half-hour mark Barry Roche had to get down well to deny Lee Stevenson who latched onto a Matt Rhead through-ball.
That all came after the game threatened to boil over following a collision between Hughes and Mansfield’s Jamie McGuire which left the Morecambe defender with a bloody mouth.
Tempers continued to boil on the touchline after a series of physical challenges but on-the-field matters soon resumed as Daniel did well to clear Devitt’s dangerous cross over his own crossbar.
From the resulting corner the Shrimps came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock yet again but this time after a clever short corner between Redshaw and Devitt, the latter curled a shot inches wide of the top corner.
With the break edging ever closer the home side looked the more likely side to go in ahead but just three minutes before the interval it was the visitors who struck against the run of play.
A foul on Stags’ forward Rhead gave Paul Cox’s side the perfect opportunity to fashion a first shot on target and they didn’t disappoint as substitute Daniel struck an unstoppable free-kick from 25 yards which flew into the top corner of Roche’s net.
Stunned by that goal the Shrimps tried to grab an equaliser but the lively Devitt saw a well-hit cross deflected narrowly wide, while Alex Kenyon headed just over as Morecambe went in behind.
Buoyed by their first half goal the away side started the second 45 in confident mood and wing-back Darryl Westlake came within inches of connecting with a Rhead flick on at the back post after a driven Adam Murray free-kick.
With front pair Rhead and Ollie Palmer now a constant menace, Hughes’ hooked clearance looped just a yard wide of his own net as the Stags sensed the all-important second goal.
Bentley’s side nervously kept the visitors at bay however and even produced a chance of their own but Fleming dragged at a shot and Marriott comfortably claimed.
The Shrimps sent top goalscorer Padraig Amond and attacking full-back Shaun Beeley into the action as they went in search of a vital equaliser and Amond soon found himself through on goal after a clever turn and pass by Devitt but a last ditch challenge from Riley denied the Irishman.
Daniel tried his luck at the other end with another ferocious free-kick but Roche was more than a match for it this time as he parried the effort over his own crossbar.
With the pace of the game intensifying Ellison was unable to generate enough power on his header from a left-wing Amond cross, before Roche had to be at his best again to excellently claw a Rhead header off his goalline when he looked to be beaten.
In urgent need of a point the Shrimps were then dealt a major blow as a bad tempered affair littered with yellow cards finally witnessed a red, as playmaker Fleming was dismissed for a late challenge on Mansfield captain Murray.
The home side were handed a glimmer of hope when the fourth official unveiled eight minutes of added time but a clipped effort from Hughes which brushed the top of the net was the best the Shrimps could muster and the visitors held on for a vital three points.
Morecambe [4-4-2]: Roche; Parrish [Beeley 71], Edwards, Hughes [c], Threlfall [Mustoe 88]; Devitt, Fleming, Kenyon, Ellison; Sampson [Amond 71], Redshaw
Subs not used: Arestidou, Diagne, Williams
Mansfield [3-5-2]: Marriott; Sutton, Riley, Tafazolli; Beevers [Daniel 4], McGuire, Murray [c], Stevenson, Westlake; Rhead, Palmer [Clucas 88]
Subs not used: Dempster, Briscoe, Speight, Clements, Meikle
Referee: D Deadman
Attendance: 1,772 [345 away]