Ellison earns another point
KEVIN ELLISON’S second-half header earned Morecambe a hard-fought point in a scrappy encounter with Wycombe at the Globe Arena writes ADAM WOODHOUSE.
Exciting winger Paris Cowan-Hall had given the Chairboys a first-half lead with a firm header but despite a dull game for large periods Ellison rose above his marker to head home an important equaliser for the Shrimps.
The draw means Jim Bentley’s side have now gone four games without a win but despite that they remain just two points and two places outside the League Two play-off places.
The game had been in doubt following torrential rain over night but referee Trevor Kettle deemed the Globe Arena surface playable following a lunchtime pitch inspection.
Bentley made just one change following last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Torquay with Padraig Amond returning in place of young midfielder Joe McGee, as the Shrimps reverted to a more traditional 4-4-2 formation.
That meant another starting berth for Alex Kenyon alongside Andy Fleming in central midfield, while the Morecambe boss could only name six substitutes with Andy Wright and Ryan Williams ruled out through injury once again.
With an extremely small squad at his disposal manager Bentley spoke this week about his desire to bring in some reinforcements during the January transfer window and his options were weakened even further after just four minutes as a head injury resulted in last Saturday’s goalscoring hero Robbie Threlfall being replaced by the versatile Tony Diagne.
That break in play slowed down the tempo of the game in the early stages and the best either side could muster was a snapshot from Cowan-Hall which flew narrowly over the Morecambe crossbar after a quick free-kick from the visitors.
As both sides tried to get used to the difficult playing conditions at the Globe Arena, it took another 14 minutes for the contest’s next effort on goal and once again it fell to the tricky Cowan-Hall, who cut in from the right before unleashing a curling effort with his left foot which captain Mark Hughes deflected behind for a corner.
The Shrimps struggled to deal with the resulting set-piece and following several failed clearances the ball fell to Cowan-Hall but this time he could only drive a low shot wide of Barry Roche’s left-hand post.
Substitute Diagne was the first Morecambe player of the afternoon to try their luck on goal but the Frenchman could only curl a free-kick from the edge of the area harmlessly over the crossbar.
With both the Shrimps and the Chairboys struggling for form of late the match then became cagey, with both sets of players failing to create a moment of magic to unlock the opposition defence.
That lack of creativity suggested the best chance either outfit had of breaking the deadlock was from a set-piece and with just four minutes of the first-half left to play the visitors took full advantage of that.
On-loan Reading defender Nick Arnold delivered an inch-perfect corner to the front post and Cowan-Hall - who scored the winner against the Shrimps on the opening day of the season - beat his marker to connect firmly with a header which beat Roche at his near post.
The travelling Wycombe fans showed their delight but with the Shrimps conceding from a set-piece for the fourth time in five games the Morecambe management team went into the break scratching their heads at yet another sloppy goal.
Just as for the majority of the first 45 minutes, the second began in a similarly scrappy manner, with the visitors continuing to look the more inventive of the two sides.
After Wycombe ‘keeper Matt Ingram did well to punch an Andy Parrish delivery away from the head of Jack Sampson, the Chairboys generated two chances of their own in quick succession.
First, captain Stuart Lewis hit a low driven effort which had Roche scrambling across his goalline and despite managing to hold on securely, the Morecambe shot-stopper had to be on his toes moments later to catch a Steven Craig effort which threatened to lob the Shrimps’ no.1.
Those openings did appear to spark some life into the Shrimps with the home side showing greater urgency but on a heavy pitch Bentley’s men disappointed with their lack of rhythm and wayward passing.
Despite that, the chances began to dry up for Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe side at the other end and the Shrimps sensed an equaliser with Diagne volleying over from 12 yards and the pacey Joe Mwasile thrown into the action.
With that renewed belief the home side continued to push forward and with 12 minutes left on the clock that new-found optimism soon turned into jubilation.
After a slick passing move down the right-hand side the ball fell at the feet of Parrish and the committed full-back who signed a new two-year deal yesterday, delivered an exquisite cross to the back post which Ellison met with a thumping header which flashed past Ingram into the top corner of the Wycombe net.
With the pace of Mwasile injected into the Shrimps’ team and rekindled confidence the home fans anticipated yet another comeback, but it was the visitors who were nearly celebrating moments later after Hughes showed great positioning to clear a Matt Bloomfield header off the line.
As the 90th minute grew ever closer both sides desperately searched for a winner to earn a vital three points and Hughes had to be alert again to head a Jo Kuffour cross away from goal.
Bentley urged his men forward as the game entered stoppage time but it was to no avail and the Shrimps had to settle for a battling point.
Morecambe: Roche; Parrish, McCready, Hughes [c], Threlfall [Diagne 4]; Amond, Fleming, Kenyon, Ellison [Drummond 81]; Redshaw, Sampson [Mwasile 68]
Subs not used: Arestidou, McGowan, McGee
Wycombe: Ingram; Arnold, Doherty, Johnson, Wood; Cowan-Hall, Lewis [c], Scowen, Bloomfield; McClure, Craig [Kuffour 78]
Subs not used: Horlock, McCoy, Morias, Hause, Kretzschmar, Knott
Attendance: 1,575 [98 from Wycombe]
Referee: T Kettle