Date: 18th January 2012 at 6:56pm
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Happy 2012 to all you Shrimps fans out there! Hope this year is good for us and our lads! With my last blog rounding up Novembers games, we’ll round up December`s and the start of January`s games, plus all the news from the footballing world.

We start as always with the Shrimps results, and the first game we will round up is our home encounter against Oxford United. As the Oxes had lost their last 5 games in the League, this looked a good way for Jim Bentley to get his team back on winning ways. However, we could not manage to get the ball pass Ryan Clarke and into the net, although young gun Lewis Alessandra forced Clarke into three decent saves from long range in the first half. It wasn’t just the visiting keeper who had to be called into action. In the second half, Barry Roche was needed to make two excellent stops from Asa Hall and Damian Batt. Lewis Alessandra saw one effort go inches past the post, but the deadlock couldn’t be broken in this entertaining encounter.

The following Saturday, Morecambe travelled to Swindon Town, who were relegated from League 1 last year. The Robins had been slowly getting better and better under the leadership of former West Ham player Paulo Di Canio. Jim Bentley`s boys held their own in the opening 25 minutes, but couldn’t stop Swindon taking the lead through a well worked Jake Jervis goal on 27 minutes. Andrew Fleming should have scored though, when he fired wide form close range. If the score stayed at 1-0 at half-time, the Shrimps would have still been in the game, however Swindon extended their lead in first half added time thanks to a Rafael De Vita header. Morecambe didn’t create much after that, and Swindon extended their lead with just under 15 minutes left after Ron Murray drilled home. A poor result for the Shrimps, going into their Boxing Day clash with Lancashire rivals Accrington Stanley.

Stanley seem to be our bogey team in the Football League, as we have never beaten them since we were promoted. So today was a chance to show how far we have come under the leadership of ‘Jimbo’. After creating some decent chances, Stanley took the lead after 30 minutes when Roche couldn’t parry Kevin Long’s shot further than Jayden Stockley, who fired his shot in comfortably. After half-time, the Shrimps improved and equalised when Stuart Drummond got a shot away in a goalmouth scramble around the hour mark. With Morecambe growing in confidence, Stanley had to act fast. Some what against the run of play, Stanley re-took the lead in some style. Bryan Hughes shot was perfect and found its way into the back corner of Barry Roche’s goal. We will have to see if we can get our revenge when we travel the short distance to Accrington.

We then played host to Burton Albion in the last game of 2011. Morecambe started well, and took the lead thanks to a excellent curling effort from number 9, Lewis Alessandra, on 31 minutes. As if by fate, the Shrimps conceded in unfortunate circumstances. The referee gave Burton a dubious free-kick on the edge of the box, and Billy Kee’s strike deflected of Nick Fenton and into the goal only 7 minutes after the opening goal. Burton managed to take the lead only 8 minutes after the restart. Barry Roche could not defend his near post and Calvin Zola headed in. With the home faithful urging the team on, Gary McDonald saw an opening and drove home to earn a deserved point for the Shrimps.

As we left 2011, we entered 2012 with a game against rising Crewe Alexandra. Although testing Barry Roche early on, Crewe fell behind to Kevin Ellison’s 10th goal of the season just before the half hour mark thanks to a great run by Andy Parrish. The Shrimps then had a goal disallowed when Phil Jevons shot clipped the heel of the offside Danny Carlton. Yet both sides having chances through out the games, Morecambe held on for their first victory in 8 games. A great boost coming into the home game against Northampton Town.

After the encouraging performance against Crewe, this was a game the crowd felt we could win. However you can never under-estimate in this League, and Northampton took the lead John Johnson’s header in the 21st minute, although the Shrimps players debated with the referee that Johnson as impeding Barry Roche. After a poor first half performance, the Shrimps looked to improve after the break and put pressure on the Northampton defence. Yet it was the Cobblers that doubled their lead on 52 minutes through Akwasi Asante. Still plenty of time for the Shrimps to get back into the game, and they did thanks to a Kevin Ellison tap in, in the 81st minute. But it was too little, too late for Jim Bentleys lads, who failed to win in their first home game of 2012.  

The final game we will round up is our trip to Yorkshire to play Bradford. With the Morecambe fans in full voice, the lads had great support in front of the 10,000 plus crowd. The first half had few chances, with Bradford going closest by forcing Barry Roche to tip the ball over the bar. Bradford themselves were nearly caught out by a quick Will Haining free kick, but Danny Carlton shot narrowly wide. The goals finally came in the second half, with Bradford scoring first through a great goal on the hour mark. The ball was chipped to Ricky Ravenhill, who chested then volleyed home leaving Roche with no chance. The Shrimps got their goal, although they needed some luck. Laurence Wilson’s cross was turned in to his own net by Andrew Davies. But Bradford hit back, and with only a minute of normal time left, they got an unfortunate goal. A shot was blocked then got stuck in the mud, leaving Marcel Seip to fire home what looked to be the winning goal. The drama wasn’t over yet though. Jason Price passed to Phil Jevons, who crossed the ball in for Kevin Ellison to volley home against his former club. A great 2-2 draw for the Shrimps, with another positive arising from the game. Kevin Ellison’s dramatic late winner involved all three substitutes, showing a great response from the bench.  

With all our lads games rounded up, time for the news from the footballing world. Since our last round-up, two Premier League managers have left the scene. The first was Steve Bruce at Sunderland, who was sacked after the Black Cats dramatic fall down the table. He was replaced by experienced manager Martin O’Neil, who has guided Sunderland to a safe looking mid-table place. The next manager to leave was QPR gaffer Neil Warnock, who was relieved of his duties after results were not going the owners way. Warnock was replaced by former Man City and Fulham manager Mark Hughes, who has been given the job of guiding Rangers out of the relegation scrap. Now onto transfer news, and first with news of our club. Jason Price has signed an extension to stay at the club until the end of the season, with the contract originally ending in January. Carlos Tevez looks to be on his way out of his City nightmare, with Inter offering £20.7 million for former captain Tevez. The big transfer target of January is arguably Chris Samba of Blackburn, with Tottenham and QPR expressing their interest in the towering defender. However Blackburn have announced he is not for sale.   That’s it for now, see you at the end of February!    

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