Crawley Creepy Upwards.
Morecambe visited the Broadfield Stadium today desperately trying to generate at least one point to add to their pathetically poor harvest of three altogether from the seven games they have played so far in League Two. The omens for them to do so were pretty even – of eight games played against Crawley in the past, they have lost three and won three (although one of these included thrashing the rather less than charming Steve Evans’ division-leading side 6-0 during 2011.) In the EFL, Morecambe have never been beaten at the Broadfield.
On form, however, there would only be one winner today: although Town are only fifteenth in the division, they were the first team to win at Fortress Sincil Bank against top-of-the-table Lincoln last time out. For the superstitious among us looking for omens, the Referee for today’s game was a bad one. Alan Young had never officiated in a match involving Crawley before. He’s been involved in a Shrimps’ contest once before though since being promoted from the National League last season: this was Morecambe’s demolition by Crewe 6-0 in the opening game of this season. Furthermore, if Crawley’s squad had any extra reason to impress, today was the day. Last Saturday, the Reds were managed by caretakers Jimmy Smith and Filipe Morais as their new Coach sat in the stands. Today, however, was the debut of Gabriele Cioffi; a 42-year old with limited previous managerial experience in the third tier of Italian football. So all his players would have an added incentive to put in a shift today to catch the eye of the new boss.
Both teams started quite brightly on a dry but sometimes overcast day in West Sussex. Although the home team probably shaded things early doors, both sides played some positive, attacking football in the opening period of the game. Panutche Camarà cleverly created a chance for himself after six minutes, working his way expertly into the Shrimps’ penalty area before unleashing a shot which took a slight deflection for a corner. From this, the ball ended-up at the same player’s feet again but his attempted shot was way over the bar. At the other end, Kevin Ellison also just missed a few moments later and Liam Mandeville did well to get into the Town box and put in a cross which was also cleared for a corner after eleven minutes. Five minutes later, Joe Piggott beat the Crawley off-side trap but a tremendous covering tackle from Mark Connolly managed to block his attempted cross. Crawley had the next chance after 21 minutes as Filipe Morais swept a shot wide after being set-up by Ollie Palmer on the edge of the Morecambe box. Five minutes later, Andy Fleming forced the first actual save from Glenn Morris in the home goal and the home goalkeeper was forced into another fairly easy stop during injury time from Piggott’s header. But the first half ended goal-less and probably just about deservedly so.
It was the Same Old Story for Morecambe in the second period though. Just seven minutes had been played when Ashley Nathaniel-George was given the freedom of midfield to run almost the length of the pitch before sweeping the ball low and powerfully under Barry Roche’s doomed attempt to keep it out. Where were his defenders? They were probably still at sixes and sevens as Camarà put the Reds even further ahead just three minutes after they had scored their first when he worked a position in the centre of the Morecambe box, managed to round Big Baz and slot the ball home. His new Manager was so excited by this strike that he ran onto the field to celebrate with his players – and was promptly booked for doing so. The Shrimps didn’t give up after their second setback though and Morris pulled-off a fantastic save from Mandeville’s free-kick after seventy-five minutes. But the final result was oh-so-familiar for Shrimps’ fans this season: no clean sheet and no goals scored either.
Nobody can pretend that seven defeats in eight league games isn’t anything less than a crisis. Yet Morecambe still manage to escape the jaws of death due to the even worse form of Macclesfield and Notts County. So what’s going to happen? With Grimsby not exactly setting the world on fire either, it is already looking as if it’s two of these four who are a dead cert for relegation next May. But there’s a long way to go and anything can happen in that time. Jim Bentley must be praying that he is given the chance to turn things around yet again at the Globe Arena despite increasingly strident calls for him to be sacked. My personal view – for what it’s worth – is who will do any better? All is not lost so early in the season and Morecambe are far from a basket case. But things obviously have to improve and improve quickly if the Shrimps are not going to find themselves even deeper in the mire at the bottom of the EFL. As far as their opponents today are concerned, Town found the three points they deservedly won propelling them into tenth position in League Two.
Crawley Town: 1 Glenn Morris; 14 George Francomb (10 Dominic Poleon 62 mins); 33 Bondz N’Gala; 6 Mark Connolly (Y); 16 Joe Maguire; 2 Lewis Young; 22 Filipe Morais; 21 Dannie Bulman (Y) (4 Josh Payne 76 mins); 15 Ashley Nathaniel-George (3 Josh Doherty 84 mins); 28 Panutche Camarà (Y); 9 Ollie Palmer.
Subs not used: 12 Yusuf Mersin; 5 Joe McNerney; 11 Luke Gambin.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche (C); 2 Zak Mills; 27 Jordan Cranston (Y); 5 Steven Old; 14 Josef Yarney (Y); 15 Aaron Wildig; 8 Andy Fleming; 14 Liam Mandeville; 28 A-Jay Leitch-Smith; 11 Kevin Ellison (19 Carlos Mendes-Gomes 81 mins); 24 Joe Piggott (Y) (9 Vadaine Oliver 60 mins).
Subs not used: 13 Dawid Szczepaniak; 25 Ben Hedley; 18 Rhys Oates; 16 Sam Lavelle; 12 Jason Oswell.
Ref: Alan Young.
1895 (89 stalwarts from Morecambe)