Crawley Held by Resilient Shrimps
Morecambe travelled all the way to West Sussex and the snappily-entitled People’s Pension Stadium today to take-on Gabriele Cioffi ‘s Crawley Town. Crawley were seventeenth in League Two prior to kick-off and on the back of three defeats; one draw and one win in their last five league games: their solitary victory being five matches ago. They would be encouraged, however, by their 4-1 win over struggling Scunthorpe last Saturday in the FA Cup. At the same time, bottom of the table Morecambe were losing by the same score at Bloomfield Road against Blackpool. They had been under the temporary care of Barry Roche and Kevin Ellison for that game, as they had been when winning their last league outing against Leyton Orient, whose manager was sacked after humiliation in their next game against non-league Maldon & Tiptree in the FA Cup last weekend. The Shrimps had lost all three of their previous league games before the Orient victory, winning the one before that.
Today, however, Derek Adams was in charge of the Shrimps for a league match for the very first time. He took over on the back of a victory in his initial game as the boss – against Carlisle United in the FA Trophy last Tuesday where the Shrimps won 3-1 from a losing position at half time. Meetings with Morecambe could be seen as something as an omen currently because Steven Pressley was also sacked as United Manager after this game. So Crawley’s current boss would be sitting uncomfortably today if his team were unable to overcome the team right at the bottom of the EFL. This was the two clubs’ eleventh meeting in League Two. In previous contests, Morecambe had won four; Crawley thee and the other three were obviously drawn.
The new Shrimps’ Manager made two changes to the team which lined-up against Carlisle during mid-week and Blackpool last Saturday. Ritchie Sutton started in defence and Alex Kenyon in midfield at the expense of John O’Sullivan and Andrew Tutte, both of whom were relegated to the bench.
It had been wet at times although sporadically sunny in Crawley before the game. Both teams had corners during the first five minutes but the visitors took the first two strikes on goal. Cole Stockton set-up George Tanner for a shot which Glenn Morris did well to save low down first of all and then Aaron Wildig missed when he should have hit the target after being played-in by Lewis Allesandra with six minutes played. Wildig then set-up Stockton for an even better chance with a clever header but the big striker – one-on-one with Morris in the home goal – missed with a shot which may have just shaved the post. Bez Lubala was upended by Tanner after a quarter of an hour. He got up to draw a good save from Mark Halstead from the resulting free-kick at the expense of a corner. Eighteen minutes were on the clock when Ashley Nadesan’s header from Nathan Ferguson’s cross following a corner missed the target. Then Ferguson himself missed with a shot following another cross by Lubala after 21 minutes. It was quite scrappy after that despite Lubala’s efforts down one wing and Reece Grego-Cox for the hosts on the other but the match seemed to be stumbling towards a goal-less draw at half time. However, when David Sesay’s surge into the Morecambe penalty area was brought to an end by Tom Brewitt’s challenge in the forty-third minute, Referee Antony Coggins pointed to the spot and Lubala then coolly slotted the ball home. To put Town into the lead.
The visitors had the first half-chance of the second period when Sutton narrowly missed with a header from a corner after 49 minutes. Three minutes later, Panutche Camara also missed at the other end with a shot from inside the penalty area. Town had a few more half-chances after that but rarely troubled the visiting goalkeeper and never tested him seriously. With just over ten minutes left, Derek Adams showed his intention to play more offensively when he withdrew central defender Steven Old and replaced him with forward John O’Sullivan. The change had an almost immediate effect: in the eighty-first minute, Cole Stockton got in front of his marker and smartly headed Brewitt’s cross home at the near post to equalise for the Lancashire club.
It turned-out to be a crucial strike as the game ended in a one-all draw. Derek Adams must have been delighted with the way his new team never let their heads drop and defended effectively in a novel 3-5-2 formation for them. Stevenage were unable to play today and so the well-earned point pushed Morecambe out of the trap-door position into the National League at their expense. As far as Crawley are concerned, the single point pushed them one place up the table to sixteenth position.
Crawley Town: 1 Glenn Morris; 2 Lewis Young; 19 Jordan Tunnicliffe; 6 Tom Dallison-Lisbon; 18 David Sesay; 21 Dannie Bulman (C); 7 Reece Grego-Cox; 28 Panutche Camara; 12 Nathan Ferguson (16 Mason Enigboken- Bloomfield 83’); 30 Beryly (Bez) Lubala (15 Ashley Nathaniel-George 61’); 10 Ashley Nadesan (9 Ollie Palmer 69’).
Subs not used: 35 Ngemba Luyambula; 20 Jamie Sendles-White; 14 George Francomb; 26 Brian Galach.
.Morecambe: 21 Mark Halstead; 16 Sam Lavelle(C); 12 Ritchie Sutton; 5 Steven Old (7 John O’Sullivan 78’) ; 3 Luke Conlan (Y); 4 Alex Kenyon; 15 Aaron Wildig (10 A-Jay Leitch-Smith 63’); 27 George Tanner; 14 Tom Brewitt; 8 Lewis Alessandra; 9 Cole Stockton (Y).
Subs not used: 1 Barry Roche; 6 Andrew Tutte; 24 Shaun Miller; 11 Kevin Ellison.
Ref: Antony Coggins.