Date: 2nd September 2017 at 5:38pm
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What`s the best way to describe Morecambe`s record against Accrington Stanley since they first met in League Two ten years ago? Bearing in mind the old adage `Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics`, Ten Percent probably sounds better then only two wins out of twenty contests so far prior to today`s kick-off. But whatever way you try and dress it up, the record is not good. Today at the Globe Arena, Jim Bentley tried to reverse the score at this venue six months ago (when Accrington picked-up their customary win) by naming midweek signings – journeyman forward Adam McGurk and loanee Wigan youngster Callum Lang – in his squad and putting McGurk straight into the starting eleven. He was also clearly relieved to include the impressive Vadaine Oliver back in his side after injury: the forward line against Carlisle in the EFL Trophy last Tuesday had been virtually toothless and the Manager would be hoping for a much better performance than that, which the Shrimps were flattered to lose only 0-2.

For Morecambe`s all-time leading scorer and Jim’s opposite number John Coleman, there were also several changes to the team that sat in sixth place in the division before kick-off. Following his team`s 1-3 reverse at home against West Brom last Tuesday, he gave debuts to no less than three loan players: Sunderland goalkeeper Max Stryjek, Derby County`s Farend Rawson and Jordan Thorniley from Sheffield Wednesday. Mark Hughes – former Morecambe Captain – found himself facing a former Stanley Captain in the heart of the home defence in the shape of Dean Winnard.

The ball spent a lot of time airborne during the opening few minutes of the game but Stanley had the first chance when Kayden Jackson pounced on a weak back-pass but hit his shot straight at Barry Roche with three minutes on the clock. In the meantime, following a collision in the Stanley penalty area, Stryjek – very sadly for the young lad – had to come off injured after just eight minutes. This meant that two ex-Chesterfield goalkeepers in the huge shapes of Barry Roche and Aaron Chapman were facing each other at each end of the pitch. Billy Kee had the next decent chance for the visitors when the ball found him unmarked in the Shrimps penalty area but he scuffed his shot wide after eleven minutes. Just a minute later, the impressive Sean McConville was played-in by Seamus Conneely but again fired off-target, this time over the Morecambe bar. But the hosts fashioned a couple of chances of their own after this – firstly when Garry Thompson was instrumental in setting up new boy McGurk for a shot which went narrowly wide after a quarter of an hour and then when Oliver headed-on Roche`s long clearance to Adam Campbell whose effort was blocked by a combination of Rawson and Chapman. As the game swept from one end of the pitch to the other, McConville had the next decent effort, swerving a shot just wide from outside the area after 27 minutes and then Campbell tried his luck again a minute later with the same result. But Kee hit the first decisive strike for the visitors out of nothing – finding himself unchallenged after half an hour, he tried his luck from a long way out and beat Roche low to his right hand side to put Stanley in their usual position: ahead. Morecambe huffed and puffed after that with Oliver winning everything in the air but having little support around him. Thommo headed just over with three minutes still scheduled to play but the hosts were already feeding off crumbs by this time. Stanley played the more cohesive football during the first half and looked more dangerous throughout. Indeed, Rawson could have crowned a pretty good first appearance with a header after 41 minutes which beat Roche but, unfortunately for him, bounced back off the post; so for the hosts, things could have been a lot worse at half time.

They did get much worse for the Shrimps after twelve minutes of the re-start. Vadaine Oliver challenged Billy Kee with a sliding tackle and although he clearly won the ball, he was shown a straight red card by referee Peter Bankes. Even according to opposing Manager John Coleman speaking after the game, this decision was very harsh. The ten men of Morecambe ironically played better after this than they had with a full complement of players but Stanley still shaded the play. Jordan Clark had already forced Roche into a partial save after fifty-seven minutes: McConville booted the rebound over the bar. His next effort – from the free-kick awarded when Oliver was dismissed – was pushed against the bar by Big Baz and as Stanley continued to boss things, Kayden Jackson nodded a cross just wide with an hour on the clock. As the game still swung from one end to the other, the decisive strike arrived in the eightieth minute. Jackson looked suspiciously off-side as he raced down the field but Clark made absolutely no mistake from close in when the resultant cross was slung over to him with a shot into the bottom corner of the net. But even then, Morecambe still tried to chase the game and substitute Kevin Ellison scored in the final minute of the five added on at the end of the match. It was too little, too late and Accrington probably deserved yet again to take the upper hand in the on-going Lancashire rivalry between these two teams. The win sees Stanley move to third in the League Two table. Morecambe, meanwhile, slip further to nineteenth.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 22 Max Muller (Y); 6 Dean Winnard; 5 Steven Old; 2 Aaron McGowan; 10 Adam Campbell (Y) (Callum Lang 63 mins); 24 Michael Rose (C); 3 Patrick Brough (Y)(11 Kevin Ellison 72 mins); 9 Vadaine Oliver (R); Adam McGurk (21 Elliot Osborne 63 mins); 7 Garry Thompson .

Substitutes not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 17 Mitchell Lund; Rhys Turner; 8 Andy Fleming.

Accrington Stanley: 16 Max Stryjek (1 Aaron Chapman 8 mins); 4 Janoi Donacien; 3 Mark Hughes; 27 Farend Rawson (20 Reagan Ogle 71 mins); 12 Jordan Thorniley; 6 Liam Nolan; 28 Seamus Conneely (C); 7 Jordan Clark; 11 Sean McConville; 29 Billy Kee (19 Mallik Wilks 64 mins); 10 Kayden Jackson (Y).

Subs not used: 15 Ross Sykes; 18 Tom Dallison-Lisbon; 8 Scott Brown; 17 Erico Sousa.
Ref: Peter Bankes