The D3D4 Correspondents give their reports from Tuesday night’s action in League One and Two…
MATCH REPORT: Morecambe 0-1 Crewe Alexandra
Crewe’s Control Restored.
Morecambe’s record against Crewe Alexandra was pretty even before tonight’s crucial clash at the Globe Arena. Out of eight previous contests, they have won three and drawn one. For ex-Shrimps’ central defender Dave Artell – currently in charge at Gresty Road – three straight defeats and no less than eight reverses on the road in a row have precipitated a crisis at the club. Dave led by example as a player and has always been a straight talker. His club were twenty-second in League Two before tonight’s match, just three points ahead of Barnet and four better-off than rock bottom Chesterfield. He assessed this predicament thus: “We have to get out ourselves out of the mire. It’s win some games, or oblivion.” Yes – `oblivion’: that’s a pretty strong word isn’t it? “There’s no point me harping on about the referee or the state of the pitch. It’s our mental state on a matchday. I’ve been in positions like this as a player. It takes every single one of you to work your socks off every single day and give everything you can. You’ve got to believe.”
Opposite number and former team-mate Jim Bentley must have hoped that Crewe were not about to experience the Forest Green Rovers Effect which his men have seemingly undergone since losing at the New Lawn at the end of last month. Morecambe have won three and drawn one of their four matches since then. Last Saturday, Alex succumbed during injury time 3-2 in a bad tempered contest at the same venue having twice been in the lead. It’s a cliché to talk about six pointers but if any contest truly deserves this description, tonight’s clash must be the one. At the start of play, Morecambe were just two places and a single point ahead of their opponents. With Barnet playing at Newport and Chesterfield entertaining FGR at the same time, Musical Chairs at the bottom of the table was very much in vogue this evening. But who would be the last club in the standings when the Fat Lady sings for the last time tonight?
It rained incessantly throughout daylight hours by the side of the Irish Sea in North Lancashire today and the match started on a sodden, heavy pitch with the rain still being blown across the ground. Fewer than one thousand people braved these conditions to witness tonight’s contest: Morecambe’s lowest ever crowd in the EFL.
The hosts had the first chance of the evening, skipper Alex Kenyon sending a pin-point cross over to Garry Thompson at the far past. Unmarked and with the goal at his mercy, Thommo somehow contrived to head the ball well wide of the target. With Aaron McGowan forced to leave the field injured after just twelve minutes, the Shrimps had to re-organise their defence early on but they looked the more threatening of the two teams particularly down the flanks during the opening twenty minutes or so. With Barry Roche a spectator at one end of the field, the next chance fell to Vadaine Oliver but, clearly off-balance, he belted the ball well over the bar with twenty-one minutes on the clock. The visitors’ first effort to challenge the hosts’ dominance took half an hour to arrive when Perry Ng took a shot from a long way out which went nowhere near the target.
Morecambe had the next proper chance as well when Kevin Ellison took a shot with his weaker right foot after 31 minutes which seemed to hit a Crewe defender before it cannoned back off the crossbar. But the Railwaymen responded by fashioning their first decent chance of the match two minutes later when Chris Dagnell did well under pressure to get a shot away which narrowly missed the Morecambe post. Ellison then came even closer to opening the scoring on the night when he unleashed one of his thunderbolt specials after 40 minutes which hammered against the post with Crewe keeper Dave Richards powerless to do anything about it before the ball bounced away to safety from his point of view. But the Cheshire team had the final say of the first half when they fashioned another chance right at the death: Dagnell did well to keep the ball in play and passed to Ng, who set-up Eddie Nolan only for the ex-Preston man to strike the ball wildly and high over the bar.
The first chance of the second half fell to the Shrimps when Adam McGurk made space for himself after 55 minutes and unleashed a shot which Richards needed two attempts to get under control. At the other end, though, the visitors finally fashioned a really good chance – George Cooper had managed to bamboozle his way through the Shrimps’ rearguard to set-up Chris Porter for an opportunity to pick his spot. But – probably reflecting the `mental state’ his manager had bemoaned before the game – he sent a weak effort straight into Big Baz’s grateful hands by shooting straight at the goalkeeper after 66 minutes. Just two minutes later, Oliver again had a chance but once more failed to hit the target with a header from a tremendous cross from Patrick Brough who had made good progress down the wing.
Substitute Callum Ainley made an instant impact for the visitors when he played-in Zoumana Bakayogo who again set-up Porter who once more failed to hit the target when well placed, spooning the ball over the bar from only ten yards out. That was after 77 minutes but the next chance fell to the Shrimps when substitute Aaron Wildig sent over a cross which Steven Old – attempting to replicate the goal he scored recently against Wycombe – headed wide. But the absolutely critical play of the night arrived in the eighty-fifth minute when Ng produced an unstoppable shot from over twenty yards out which flew straight into the back of the net to Roche’s left and registered what could prove to be a critical goal as far as all the teams struggling against relegation from the football league this term is concerned. It could have been even worse for the Shrimps when Baz then performed a miracle to keep out Lewis Reilly’s attempt from Porter’s low cross in the ninetieth minute. It made little difference to the final score though and Crewe managed to hang on to register their first away win in the EFL since August.
This was a simply disastrous result for the Shrimps and if anyone might be using the word `oblivion’ after the game, it certainly wouldn’t be Dave Artell. With Chesterfield winning their second game in a row and Barnet beating Newport, the Shrimps found themselves right back in the mire at the end of the evening. They are in twenty-second position in League Two tonight, just a point above the Bees and a mere couple better off than the Chairboys. Jim Bentley must have felt even worse than the dreary weather as a result. With an away game at Carlisle on Saturday – where they traditionally have a very poor record – it is an understatement to say that he will have his work cut out to encourage his players to recover from this latest severe setback.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan (17 Mitchell Lund 12 mins); 16 Sam Lavelle; 5 Steven Old; 3 Patrick Brough; 4 Alex Kenyon (C); 8 Andy Fleming; 7 Garry Thompson (29 Callum Lang 75 mins); 9 Vadaine Oliver; 11 Kevin Ellison; 28 Adam McGurk (15 Aaron Wildig 62 mins).
Subs Not Used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 10 Adam Campbell; 22 Max Muller; 24 Michael Rose.
Crewe Alexandra: 13 Dave Richards; 2 Perry Ng (Y); 3 Zoumana Bakayogo; 12 Eddie Nolan; 4 Brad Walker; 18 Harry Pickering (28 Conor Grant 91 mins); 11 George Cooper (14 Callum Ainley 75 mins); 9 Chris Dagnell; 7 Chris Porter; 27 Sam Stubbs; 10 Jordan Bowery (24 Lewis Reilly 75 mins).
Subs not used: 1 Ben Garrett; 20 Charlie Kirk; 21 Oliver Finney; 22 Josh Lundstram.
Ref: Scott Oldham
words Roger Fitton, D3D4 Morecambe Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Oldham Athletic 0-0 AFC Wimbledon
Goals have not been hard to find at Boundary Park this season but the Latics were held to a rare 0-0 draw by a stubborn Wimbledon side.
Oldham started brightly and very nearly found the net through Eoin Doyle, who sent the ball just wide following a neat pass from Nepomuceno. The blues dominated the first half as they nocked the ball around intelligently and created several chances. Craig Davies had the ball in the net after 20 minutes, but the linesman had his flag up, Davies had strayed offside as Nepomuceno had his shot saved. Nepomuceno, Gerrard and Davies were all denied as Oldham piled on the pressure in the first half, but it just didn’t happen for the home side as they walked in goalless at half time.
The visitors looked more organised in the second half as Oldham struggled to get going. It took until the 55th minute for Oldham to create their first chance of the half, as poacher Eoin Doyle had a shot well saved by the feet of Long.
Menig and Holloway once again were brought on as impact subs and Holloway very nearly got on the end of a Doyle cross. Jack Byrne went millimetres wide from the edge of the box as after 78 minutes as Oldham fans got the feeling it just wasn’t their night. Doyle volleyed over with a few minutes left before heading into the arms of Long with the final shot of the game.
Wimbledon looked poor for much of the game but did enough to organise well to thwart a normally lethal Oldham attack. Anthony’s Gerrard and Kean Bryan did well in defence to give the Latics a rare clean sheet. The stand out performs was Wimbledon goalkeeper George Long (despite some dubious time-wasting tactics), who made some really good stops. Oldham will be frustrated to have not come away with 3 points, but this keeps the momentum on a ggood period for them. Wimbledon, meanwhile, will have to up their game if they’re not to find themselves in a relegation scrap come the end of the season.
FULL TIME: Oldham Athletic 0-0 AFC Wimbledon
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Oldham Athletic: Placide, Dummigan, Gerrard, Bryan, Hunt (Duffus 86’), Nepomuceno (Menig 71’), Fane, Green, Byrne, Davies (Amadi-Holloway 71’), Doyle.
Subs not used: Wilson, Clarke, Wilson, Omrani.
AFC Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Oshilaja, Francomb (Robinson 83’), McDonald (Hartigan 66’), Forrester, Trotter, Barcham, Soares (Meades 46’), Charles, Taylor.
Subs not used: McDonnell, Abdou, Sibbick, Kalambayi.
Attendance: 3,169 (147 visiting supporters)
words Chris Stringer, D3D4 Oldham Athletic Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Newport County 1-2 Barnet
Tuesday 21st November 2017 – 19.45 kick-off
Newport County 1 (White 73) Barnet 2 (Akinde 88, Coulthirst 90)
Attendance 2275 (64 from Barnet)
Newport County took on a struggling Barnet at Rodney Parade on Tuesday night with Newport County not having won in the league since the 4-0 victory at Forest Green on the 14th October. It was a typical Autumn night in Newport with heavy rain greasing the pitch. Ex County players Stephens, Clough and Tutonda took their place in the Barnet line up.
County kicked off towards the North Terrace and put together a few moves early on against Barnet who were playing in their bright blue away kit. Barnet countered with a free kick from Watson that was turned over by County goalkeeper Joe Day. The resulting corner was deflected into the side netting by Barnet. Another free kick from Barnet on the Hazell Stand side missed everyone, passing over the heads of both teams and out for a throw in, pretty much setting the standard for the evening. At the other end an early free kick from Newport’s Robbie Willmott resulted in a Scott Bennett shot deflecting off Ricardo Santos and onto the post, livening up the home crowd. Barnet responded with an Akinde header that was superbly clawed away by Day with Demetriou somehow clearing the follow up shot off the line.
A poor half of football ended in controversy when Barnet’s Portuguese born defender Ricardo Santos deliberately pushed Robbie Willmott off the pitch and into the Hazell Stand hoardings. A melee erupted with County players, management and fans protesting.
The referee felt a booking was sufficient for Santos, who it turned out had left Willmott with concussion, a sprained shoulder joint, nosebleed and cut to the head. The Ref also booked Newport’s Padraig Amond for his part in the incident – manhandling the 6’ 6’’ Santos. The officials left the pitch at half time to abuse from the home fans.
The second half saw County’s Dan Butler, who had replaced an injured David Pipe in the first half, booked for a foul on 53 minutes. Barnet gradually began to dominate during the second half as County failed to demonstrate the form that taken them into the playoffs during the early part of the season. Willmott succumbed to the injuries suffered during his earlier clash with the hoardings, being replaced by Joss Labadie on 59 minutes. With Barnet starting to play a bit of football, County scored what looked like the winner in the 73rd minute. Barnet goalkeeper Stephens failed to clear the ball allowing Ben White to score his first league goal with a well-directed header from the edge of the box. At this stage it looked like County had done enough to secure their first league win in over a month. However, it would have been rough justice on Barnet to have lost the game and they came back with an equaliser in the 88th minute. A cross from Campbell-Ryce was met by an unmarked Akinde who headed in at the far post. Two minutes later Barnet completed their smash and grab with Campbell-Ryce crossing for Coulthirst to head in at the near post. Amond went close for County during the 6 minutes of added time but the game ended to the sound of boos from the home crowd.
Summary – The opinion of some County fans is that Barnet deserved to win for at least playing some football. Losing would have been harsh on Barnet but a draw would have probably been a fair result. County have struggled to maintain a lead in recent matches and the next few league games should give an indication as to which end of the table they will be looking at for the remainder of the season.
MOM – Charlie Clough (Barnet) – barely put a foot wrong in defence and had the beating of Nouble on the night.
words Rob Wood, D3D4 Newport County Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Peterborough United 2-1 Portsmouth
Tuesday 21st November 2017, English Football League 1. GAME #18
PETERBOROUGH UNITED 2-1 PORTSMOUTH ATT:5,217
Marriott 58, Clarke 70 og Chaplin 78
Line-up:- O’Malley, Baldwin, Taylor, Tafazolli (Hughes 45), Edwards, Grant, Doughty, Maddison (Anderson 85), Da Silva Lopes, Lloyd, Marriott.
A good gritty performance from Peterborough was the catalyst to a valuable three points against Pompey. Portsmouth hit-man Pittman did not play through injury, however Portsmouth still showed good ball-retention and fashioned an opportunity, in which hit the post in the first half. Posh also had two first half chances, one hitting the woodwork and the other keeping former Posh keeper McGee into a smart stop at his near post.
After a goalless first half, with the second period only 13 minutes old, a delicious cross, ‘along the proverbial corridor’, by Maddison was poked home with typical aplomb by red-hot Marriott. Posh’s second would come shortly after, a beautiful floating free-kick from, yep, Maddison again, required any touch to attain a goal, unfortunately for Pompey it glanced off their own man Clarke, for the own goal. Clarke had, had a good solid game, up until that unfortunate moment.
After coming on as a second half sub, Pompey youth starlet Conor Chaplin pounced on O’Malley’s palm away to strike home, for what would end up being a consolation. However from my vantage point, Chaplin did appear offside. The officiating once again was at a substandard level.
A nervy ending was in store, but McCann’s men weathered the storm. A few interesting points and parallels, same as Saturday, a half-time sub was used. This time McCann ditched pragmatism with attack-minded diligence, with bringing on Hughes for Tafazolli, Hughes being more attack-orientated. Jermaine Anderson is getting less and less minutes, as he is struggling to rekindle pre-injury form, which turned a lot of scouting heads across the leagues.
Also a great ambiance was heralded, especially from the travelling Portsmouth contingent, who didn’t stop singing or creating atmosphere all evening long.
words Ian McFarlane, D3D4 Peterborough United Correspondent