The D3D4 Correspondents give you their take on the weekend games in League One and Two…
MATCH REPORT: Morecambe 2-0 Coventry City
Blue Sky Thinking? – Sky Blue SHRINKING…
Coventry City made the long journey from the Midlands through the snow to the Globe Arena today to face Morecambe at this venue for the first time ever in a League game. However, this was their third visit to a ground where they have lost and drawn their previous two Cup matches, most notably when they were beaten 2-0 in the inaugural game at this location seven years ago.
These seven years have seen many changes for both clubs, few of them in any way positive. Morecambe’s biggest achievement has been to actually remain in the EFL despite increasing turmoil off the field since that time. For Coventry, the decline which was already apparent when they visited in 2010 as a Championship club has continued year after successive year. With the Ricoh Arena now better known as the home stadium of Wasps Rugby Union club, fans’ revolts over a temporary move to Sixfields in Northampton and continued uncertainty about the club’s future all conspired to see City relegated to the lowest tier of the Football League last season. The only really positive thing that has affected the football club in recent times has been this week’s successful bid by Coventry to become Britain’s City of Culture in 2021. The biggest worry for Sky Blues fans currently most be, firstly, if their club will still actually exist in four years’ time. They must also be concerned – given the downwards direction of travel throughout this decade – whether they will still be an EFL club if they manage to survive at all. As they have tried to address their recent decline, City started this season’s campaign with two wins followed by a loss. Inconsistency of this sort has been a hallmark of their results so far but they arrived at the Lancashire seaside sixth in the League Two table, just within the play-off positions and with reason still to be positive about a quick return to League One.
Jim Bentley had to completely change his plans for the game when Alex Kenyon picked-up an injury in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Garry Thompson. Thommo was quickly in the action as Michael Rose’s pin-point cross was headed-down by Vadaine Oliver into his path and visiting goalkeeper Lee Burge seemed to foul him. But the man who matters – referee Robert Lewis – waved play-on. Oliver’s shot had already been kicked off the line in the seventh minute by Rod McDonald as Coventry increasingly played on the back foot. Shortly after this, Elliot Osborne made good progress down the left and crossed for Thommo to produce a bullet header which Burge did brilliantly to tip round the post. As the home team continued to throw the kitchen sink at the visitors, Adam McGurk was the next Morecambe player to attack down the left and slipped a ball across the penalty area only to find his colleagues too far behind it.
So far, virtually the only contribution to the game by the visitors had been Michael Doyle’s reaction to a fairly innocuous foul by McGurk after ten minutes. The Coventry player rolled around on the ground as if he had been pole-axed. When McGurk’s name duly entered the referee’s notebook, though, he seemed to undergo a miraculous recovery. But the Shrimps’ striker was not put off his stride and was unlucky after his shot from outside the area after 23 minutes beat Burge but bounced back off his left hand post only for Andy Fleming’s effort from the rebound to be cleared off the line again. Oliver was the next Shrimps’ player to test Burge with just over half an hour played and the goalkeeper did well to deflect his effort wide when one–on-one with the forward. Morecambe’s pressure finally told, however, in the thirty-fifth minute. Michael Rose took a free kick from the right, Oliver stretched out a long leg and managed to propel the ball past the visiting goalkeeper to deservedly put the Shrimps one goal up. There were further half-chances for both sides – with
Duckens Nazon twice forcing home goalkeeper Barry Roche into good saves for City – but Morecambe went into the dressing rooms fully deserving of their slim lead at half time.
Sky Blues Manager Mark Robins shook things up at half time with two substitutions in an attempt to get back into the game. The first effort of the second period, however, again came from Morecambe: Rose took a shot from long range which went narrowly wide after 50 minutes. Five minutes later, Marc McNulty beat two Morecambe defenders but his resultant shot went way over the bar. But the play swung back to the other end and McGurk saw a header land on the top netting of the goal just three minutes later. Roche then made two fairly regulation saves from both Jordan Willis and McNulty. But Morecambe went further ahead after McGurk’s replacement Callum Lang received the ball after an excellent run down the right by Aaron McGowan. The young striker cut in onto his left hand side and smashed a fierce shot past a helpless Burge to put the Shrimps two goals to the good. Two minutes later – with seventy-one minutes on the clock – Lang was denied another goal when McDonald again did well to make a last-ditch block. As the Sky Blues struggled to get back into the match, McNulty saw his shot after 79 minutes come back off the base of the Shrimps’ post with Roche beaten. Down the other end, though, Thommo forced Burge into another excellent save after 85 minutes. Although there was time left for City sub Stuart Beavon to test Big Baz and for injured substitute Lang to be replaced himself, the match ended with a chance for Adam Campbell in injury time which he put wide. After five minutes of extra time, the final result was a richly deserved two-nil victory to the Shrimps.
This was an excellent performance against one of the fancied teams in League Two. Chesterfield beat Barnet today at the bottom of the table to propel themselves out of the of drop zone whilst FGR lost and fell into it. Morecambe, meanwhile, found themselves propelled up the table to eighteenth place. It’s still very tight at the bottom of the pack but Jim Bentley must take a lot of hope from today’s performance of his makeshift team. If they continue to play like they did today, their future in the EFL is assured.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan; 22 Max Muller; 5 Steven Old; 3 Patrick Brough; 24 Michael Rose (C)(Y); 21 Elliot Osborne (10 Adam Campbell 67 mins); 8 Andy Fleming (Y); 9 Vadaine Oliver; 28 Adam McGurk (Y) (29 Callum Lang 67 mins; 14 Luke Conlan 89 mins); 7 Garry Thompson.
Subs Not Used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 17 Mitchell Lund; Ben Hedley.
Coventry City: 1 Lee Burge; 2 Jack Grimmer; 4 Jordan Willis; 5 Rod McDonald; 24 Ryan Haynes; 8 Michael Doyle; 31 Ben Stevenson; 26 Jordan Shipley (7 Peter Vincenti 45 mins); 18 Duckens Nazon (22 Dion Kelly-Evans 45 mins); 9 Maxime Biamou (16 Stuart Beavon 77 mins); 10 Marc McNulty.
Subs not used: 13 Liam O’Brien; 3 Chris Stokes; 12 Tom Davies; 30 Tom Bayliss.
Ref: Robert Lewis.
words Roger Fitton, D3D4 Morecambe Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Blackpool 1-2 Rotherham United
I am elated & freezing in equal measure as I’m typing up this report on my netbook on the Millers supporters coach on my way back to South Yorkshire after the Millers seven match run without a win dramatically ended with a fine 2-1 win at Bloomfield Road with two David Ball goals in the last 14 minutes saw Rotherham come from behind to win for the first time since April 2015.
An early start saw us arrive in Blackpool just before 11am where I had a very short stroll on the sea front before diving into a local fish & chip restaurant to indulge in some of the local fayre (very agreeable it was too) before embarking on a 15/20 minute walk to the ground. Upon arrival I bought a programme for a very reasonable £2. After a brisk walk around the ground & visiting the club shop I stood chatting to NAPM members who are still boycotting Blackpool home games whileever the Oyston family are involved with the club (an admirable stance, don’t know if I could do it though). Finally got into the ground at around 220. Bloomfield Road is a nice modern stadium with a capacity of around 16000 but come kick off time apart from the close on 1000 Millers fans there seemed to be hardly anyone inside, especially on the side opposite the main stand.
An even start to the game ensued with the Millers doing most of the pressing. CB Semi Ajayi came close early on when his header fell just over the bar & a Jonnson Clarke Harris effort was just off target but it was Blackpool who grabbed the lead on 21 minutes, full back Kelvin Mellor unleashing a fine 25 yarder which flew past Rodak in the Millers goal. The goal unnerved the Millers who conceded silly yellow cards for captain Richard Wood & Michael Ihiekwe for unneccesary fouls before half time.
HT Blackpool 1 Rotherham 0
The Millers manager Paul Warne knew he had to change things so striker Jerry Yates came on for the ineffective Clarke Harris & winger Antony Forde came on for defender Ihiekwe as the Millers switched to a more attacking formation. The Millers poured forward & after a Ryan Williams shot was blocked, Yates blew a golden chance to equalise on 65 minutes when after being played through he blazed wide from 15 yards. Undettered Rotherham continued to push forward & deservedly equalised on 76 minutes when a Will Vaulks long throw caused confusion in the area & Ball pounced from close range. Rotherham smelled blood at this stage & deservedly netted the winning goal when a Forde corner was headed in at the near post by a delighted Ball for his second goal.
FT Blackpool 1 Rotherham 2
A strong second half showing by Rotherham saw them claim a richly deserved three points at a freezing & practically deserted Bloomfield Road to stop the rot after going seven games without a win. No photos this week as this plonker (yours truly) left his phone at home this morning in a hurry.
PS; Have you ever tried typing anything on a bloody coach!!!!!
words Ian Bradley, D3D4 Rotherham United Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Oldham Athletic 5-1 Northampton Town
As snow fell on the coldest ground in England, Cobblers fans will have quickly regretted their decision to battle the elements when Jack Byrne curled in his superb long range shot after just 3 minutes. A nice one two with Rob Hunt on the edge of the area found Byrne in space 25 yards from goal which allowed the Irish man to curl home. Oldham looked impressive against a weak Northampton side and they looked to dominate. Dan Gardner went close before Tope Obadeyi furthered the Latics’ lead – goal scorer Byrne whipped in a perfect corner to the near post for Tope Obadeyi to head in.
Oldham have failed to score in their previous 3 league matches but anyone doubting the goal scoring ability of the Latics were quickly assured otherwise. Jack Byrne once again found space on the edge of the area and his deflected shot somehow worked its way past David Cornell; poor goalkeeping from the ex-Oldham keeper. Fans on all sides of the ground were stunned by the dominance of the Oldham side as they walked in 3-0 up at half time.
So often this season Oldham have sat back after showing some dominance and when Northampton pulled a goal back following a poor back pass just 2 minutes into the second half, there was a real sense of nervousness amongst the supporters. These nerves, however, were soon calmed. Despite the Cobblers best efforts to get back into the game, Gevaro Nepomuceno netted his first goal of the season on the hour mark – Doyle slightly miscued his lobbed shot and Nepomuceno stabbed the ball in. This proved the start of a nice period of play between the 2 players when just a few moments later Nepomuceno played a superb cross to Doyle who hit his volley inches wide.
The last 20 minutes showed the gulf in class between the two sides and the introduction of another 2 strikers saw Oldham twist the knife. Aaron Amadi-Holloway hit a powerful ball across goal for Davies to stab home at the back post with the last kick of the game. A five-star performance for Latics as Wellens’ lucky underwear (mentioned in his pre-match press conference) proved key in sealing all 3 points. A worrying performance for Northampton, who really look likely to finish in the bottom 4 given the way they played.
FULL TIME: Oldham Athletic (Byrne 4’, 45’ Obadeyi 27’, Nepomuceno 60’, Davies 90+3) 5-1 Northampton Town (Foley 47’)
Oldham Athletic: Placide, Dummigan, Bryan, Gerrard, Hunt, Fane, Gardner, Nepomuceno (Davies 86’), Byrne (Amadi-Holloway 88’), Obadeyi (Flynn 77’), Doyle.
Subs not used: Wilson, Wilson, Green, Menig.
Northampton Town: Cornell, Moloney, Buchanan, Barnett, Taylor, Waters (Smith 66’), Foley, Long, Crooks, Poole (O’Toole 46’), Grimes.
Subs not used: Coddington, Richards, Pierre, McGivern, McGugan.
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 3,532 (332 visiting supporters)
words Chris Stringer, D3D4 Oldham Athletic Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Newport County 3-3 Carlisle United
Newport County 3 (McCoulsky, Dolan 2) v Carlisle United 3 (Joyce, Etuhu, Miller T)
Rodney Parade Sat 9th December 2017 Attendance 3,179 (160 Away Fans)
Last season’s 2-0 home win against the Cumbrians came in the middle of a three game winning run under Graham Westley. A run that saw County briefly climb out of the relegation zone in November; something famously not to be repeated until the last couple of games of the season. It was also the first time a good Carlisle team lost that season, as they worked their way to a play-off place under Keith Curle. December 2017 sees a resurgent Newport County five places and one point above Carlisle with both teams potentially vying for an end-of-season play-off spot.
The expectation was for a competitive game but the first half was a relatively tame affair with neither side dominating. After 16 minutes a good shot by Newport’s Demetriou was turned around the post by the Carlisle keeper Bonham. Bonham having to do the same to an effort from McCoulsky 5 minutes later. At the other end of the pitch, Carlisle forward Reggie Lambe was looking threatening but without producing any end product. County defender Mark O’Brien was pulled up by the referee on 24 minutes for an innocuous challenge 15 yards from the box. Carlisle wasted the opportunity as the freekick went out of play; the Cumbrians generally failing to make the most of their set pieces throughout the game. Towards the end of the first half Newport livened up and, from a Willmott free-kick, McCoulsky beat Bonham to the ball and lobbed it into the top of the net to put County 1-0 up at half time.
Conceding didn’t demoralise Carlisle, as they levelled the score through Luke Joyce within 40 seconds of the start of the second half. Mark O’Brien hesitated over clearing a long throw from former County player Tom Miller and Joyce was on hand to stab it into the net.
On 52 minutes another long throw from Miller caught County out with ex-Cardiff City player Kelvin Etuhu running across the Newport defence to fire it past goalkeeper Day. Despite the poor defending County were making the most of their set pieces at the other end of the field. On 56 minutes Matty Dolan found the net with a curling 25 yard free-kick that had Bonham well beaten near his post. Dolan was to repeat the feat on 69 minutes but not before Tom Miller headed through the hapless Joe Day’s legs from a Tom Parkes cross to make it 3-2 to United. On 69 minutes Dolan confirmed Newport County’s reputation as set-piece specialists with a superb free-kick, 5 yards further back that his first. It had Bonham clutching at air, this time nestling higher up into the net and drawing the scores level at 3 – 3. County dominated towards the end with Labadie and Butler going close, the Ref drawing the game to a close after 5 minutes of added time.
Post-game, Newport boss Mike Flynn stated that he felt Newport deserved all three points, while Carlisle Manager Keith Curle felt that County had played for free-kicks to take advantage of their prowess at set-pieces. The reality is that Newport County defended badly and Carlisle took their chances.
Man of the Match – Matty Dolan (Newport County)
words Rob Wood, D3D4 Newport County Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Peterborough United 1-3 Blackburn Rovers
Saturday 9th December 2017, English Football League 1, Game 21
PETERBOROUGH UNITED 2-3 BLACKBURN ROVERS ATT: 6,164
Taylor 11, Marriott 90+3 Mulgrew 48, Dack 51, 58
Line-up- Bond, Taylor, Baldwin (sent off 90+5), Tafazolli, Hughes, Forrester (Doughty 72), Grant (Kanu 86), Anderson (Lloyd 66), Edwards, Maddison, Marriott.
This riveting encounter certainly warmed up a ridiculously cold afternoon. I was quietly confident, heading into the game, as Posh have unearthed some great performances against the better sides within the division. This was no exception, apart from not garnering the desired result.
Blackburn started out of the blocks early, with Jonathan Bond proving his worth with two point-blank saves within the opening ten minutes. Against the run of play, after winning a corner, defender Steven Taylor rose highest to head home, no one was denying him that one.
After taking the lead Boro seemed reinvigorated dominating the majority of the first half. Posh being easy on the eye in the first half instead of the second, has been quite the rarity this season, especially at home.
Second half, and quite the capitulation, on the parallel of the Oxford second half debacle, Blackburn were rampant for ten minutes, in which they showed how scarily clinical they truly are. Blackburn took advantage over Posh defensive inadequacies from a corner allowing Scottish international Charlie Mulgrew to poach the first. Right place/right time, for the man who is showing goal-scoring credentials of a fully-fledged number ten.
Three minutes later a huge blunder from Forrester (who dwindled on the ball too long), lost out to Blackburn’s easy on the eye, one-touch pass and move, allowing Bradley Dack to wrong-foot Bond before slotting in the bottom corner. Seven minutes later, Blackburn countered ferociously from a Posh corner, in which Boro had committed too many to the attack. After flowing down the pitch with pace and poise, the ball eventually ended with Dack again, who once again popped it past Bond.
Myself, sat in Row C of the Family Stand and the majority around me were in stunned silence. We had just witnessed ten minutes of how football should be played, despite the fact that it was against my team, I have to admit it was a pleasure to behold.
Peterborough tried to establish a foothold into the game, however after being blitzed within the aforementioned period, trepidation was becoming quite visible. After completing a last ditch tackle, stalwart and my ‘man of the match’, in most encounters Anthony Grant went off after being knocked temporarily out cold from the momentum of said challenge. This was the main catalyst for the five minutes added time, in which Boro pulled a goal back. The ball broke to substitute Danny Lloyd on the flank, who in turn fired a driven cross ‘along the corridor’, waiting in the six yard box, red hot Jack Marriott to fire the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Right at the conclusion of the added time period, Jack Baldwin picked up a second yellow for senselessly wrestling Dack to the ground. He had picked up his first booking within three minutes, he was always, from that moment skating on thin ice, and sadly it finally broke.
Sadly a defeat that plunges Posh down three places, however I personally feel like a winner witnessing such a splendid match.
words Ian McFarlane, D3D4 Peterborough United Correspondent