Date: 20th March 2018 at 11:20pm
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Colchester United made the long journey to the Globe Arena from Essex tonight in order to fulfil the re-arranged fixture against Morecambe which should have been played earlier this month. John McGreal`s team were in thirteenth position in League Two before the game and looking to improve on pretty dire recent form. Since beating high-flying Coventry City a month ago, the U`s have contrived to lose at home to seemingly doomed Barnet before being beaten away at struggling Crewe prior to managing a draw at Mansfield and then losing at home again to Yeovil Town last time out. On past form, tonight`s result would be a draw: all three of the previous meetings between the two clubs have resulted in shared spoils. In reality, United had little to play for other than pride: they have little fear of relegation and even fewer hopes of a promotion push at this relatively late stage of the season either. For the hosts, though, survival in the EFL is still very much a live issue. After their win against Exeter City at this venue last Saturday, Jim Bentley`s team were looking to consolidate their position away from the pack scrapping to avoid the long drop through the trapdoor into the National League in May.

On an evening when the ground gradually began to freeze, both teams ran around a lot and tried to play football at times. Morecambe were noticeably revved-up for this encounter and played with a lot more commitment than has sometimes been the case this season. However, there was little real quality from either team at any point and not much goal-mouth action to keep a disappointingly low crowd entertained. There were a few badly-timed tackles and official Man Of The Match Alex Kenyon would certainly have been sent off if a wild lunge towards an escaping U`s forward on the United left wing during the second half had made contact. Just before half time, Manager McGreal irritated the home crowd by grabbing hold of the ball and refusing to give it back for some time. Why referee Andy Haines allowed him to do this remains a mystery but the home team almost capitalised on this show of petulance by attacking down their right flank and setting-up Adam McGurk to hit a fierce shot which Sam Walker in the visitors` goal could only parry. The huge goalkeeper did brilliantly to recover and block the follow-up effort from Garry Thompson with his legs although from where I was sitting, the ball seemed to hit the post as well. Thommo also had Morecambe`s best chance during the second half but was unable to keep his shot down as the ball came at him quickly from substitute Vadaine Oliver`s knock-down: his effort went way over the roof of the West Stand.

Colchester – playing in a sickly shade of green strip tonight – also had a couple of half-chances of their own. An effort was deflected by the Shrimps` defence against the crossbar during the first half but bounced away to safety. Then Brennan Dickenson drew a really good save from Barry Roche in the home goal from a free-kick after seventy-five minutes.

And that was about it.

The match had the atmosphere of a practice game tonight: as if it didn`t really matter. Having said that, both of these teams seemed far too good to be relegated. Morecambe Manager Jim Bentley will no doubt be pleased with some of the good stuff his players came up with at times particularly in defence where the whole team was resolute throughout – and a point is a point when all is said and done. Elsewhere, Crewe beat Forest Green – the team that ex-Shrimps` striker and current Accrington Manager John Coleman described as the best technical side in the division last Saturday – to close the gap on Morecambe but push FGR further into trouble. Port Vale also lost tonight so all in all, the draw was not a totally negative result for the Shrimps. They remain eighteenth; Colchester stay in thirteenth spot. Hats off to the sixty-two brave souls who made the long journey north tonight – it will be really late (or early, depending on how you look at it) by the time they get home again.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 6 Dean Winnard; 2 Aaron McGowan; 16 Sam Lavelle; 4 Alex Kenyon; 29 Callum Lang (10 Adam Campbell 81 mins); 24 Michael Rose (C)(Y); 28 Adam McGurk (Y)(9 Vadaine Oliver 78 mins); 14 Luke Conlan; 21 Gregg Wylde (15 Aaron Wildig 88 mins); 7 Garry Thompson.

Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 8 Andy Fleming; 17 Mitchell Lund; 5 Steven Old.

Colchester United: 1 Sam Walker; 2 Ryan Jackson; 5 Luke Prosser (C); 18 Tom Eastman; 22 Kane Vincent-Young; 4 Tom Lapslie; 14 Brandon Comley (17 Ben Stevenson 79 mins); 7 Drey Wright; 10 Sammi Szmodics (20 Courtney Senior 84 mins); 11 Brennan Dickenson (16 Sean Murray 84 mins); 19 Mikael Mandron (Y).

Subs not used: 25 DillonBarnes; 15 Olamide Shodipo; 18 Tom Eastman; 21 Liam Mandeville; 46 Paul Rooney.
Ref: Andy Haines