Date: 13th January 2018 at 5:24pm
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Stevenage visited the Globe Arena today looking to complete a double over Morecambe this season, having won their previous League Two match 2-1 against the Shrimps last September at Broadhall Way. Darren Sarll`s men arrived fifteenth in the division and on the back of a 4-1 New Year’s Day victory over Cheltenham. Boro have an excellent record against today`s opponents, having won five and drawn three of their previous nine encounters.

As far as the hosts were concerned, Jim Bentley`s side were looking for their third win in a row with evergreen Kevin Ellison also seeking to score for the third time in three matches. The manager`s quip that he has `twenty-five quid` to spend on additions to his squad during January`s transfer window has so far been proved to be no joke with no signings – loan or otherwise – at the Lancashire seaside so far this year.

For the visitors, Ronnie Henry played his 469th match for his club, extending his all-time appearance record for Stevenage. Ben Kennedy also chalked-up his one hundredth appearance for Boro as goalkeeper Tom King lined-up for his first on-loan game from Millwall for the Hertfordshire club. Rumours that eighteen-year old central defender Ben Wilmot is interesting clubs such as Spurs and Liverpool continue to circulate strongly.

The match started under leaden but dry skies and the visitors had the best of the early chances. Matty Godden was fed by Danny Newton after just three minutes but his resultant shot went into the side netting. After six minutes, youngster Ben Wilmot rose the highest from a Stevenage corner but his header went over the Morecambe bar. The match was bogged-down on a heavy pitch after this for some time as attrition rather than art seemed to be the order of the day for both teams. Boro carved-out the next chance though, as Joe Martin hit the target with a shot which Barry Roche saved relatively easily after twenty-two minutes. Just two minutes later at the other end, there was some clever play between Vadaine Oliver and Luke Conlan, who crossed the ball perfectly to set-up Kevin Ellison to smash the ball past Tom King and put the Shrimps into the lead. In doing so, Kev again not only confounded his critics with his third goal in three games but also confirmed yet again his Manager`s rating of his as the best signing he has ever made for the club. After the goal, however, the visitors continued to shade things but Ben Kennedy`s effort from Jonathan Smith`s cross was too high again with just over half an hour played. With thirty-eight minutes on the clock, Stevenage came even closer to equalising when Godden headed another excellent cross from Smith against the post with Baz a mere spectator in the Morecambe net. But try as they might, the visitors could not find a way to get back on terms before half time. They trailed off to the Dressing Rooms having had the better chances and the best of the play. But as Morecambe themselves know from their own experiences recently – most notably at Mansfield – possession alone doesn`t win football matches: goals do.

Boro had the first good chance of the second half as well. Newton received the ball with his back to goal inside the Shrimps` penalty area after 51 minutes and rolled it back to Tom Pett only for the home defence to crowd him out before he could unleash a shot. Two minutes later, Pett played in Godden down the Stevenage left but his cross was just too far in front of Newton for his team-mate to connect with it. Kennedy had the next chance, heading over from a corner to the visitors after 54 minutes. Three minutes later, Morecambe had the first chance of the second period to increase their lead. Michael Rose plonked one of his specialty free-kicks into the Stevenage penalty area but his target – Steven Old – was just unable to reach the ball with an attempted header. As the Shrimps basically failed to get out of their own half, Jamie Gray was denied after 75 minutes when Roche brilliantly saved his shot with his legs when one-on-one with the Boro substitute. With just seven minutes scheduled to play, Oliver and substitute Andy Fleming combined well but Fleming`s attempt to play-in a well-placed Ellison was absolutely woeful. Darren Sarll`s final throw of the dice paid-off spectacularly, however, after 88 minutes. The newly-arrived central defender Fraser Franks controlled the ball with his thigh on the edge of the Morecambe box and then blasted an unstoppable volley high into the net to give the visitors the point that their domination of the play certainly merited. Jim Bentley must have been chewing his nails during the five minutes` extra time because there was only going to be one team which would pinch the game at the death. But his men managed to hang on to a very valuable point against the run of play particularly during the second half. Jim must be pleased with his team`s resilience today but also knows that his team has played better this season and lost.

Elsewhere, Chesterfield`s shock win against leaders Luton propelled them out of the relegation zone. Barnet lost again and are bottom of the EFL three points behind Forest Green, who also lost at Swindon. Crewe`s defeat at Carlisle means that Morecambe move above Dave Artell`s club into nineteenth position, six points above FGR and nine above the Bees. Despite the loss of a point, Stevenage remained in the same position they had been when they arrived in Lancashire earlier in the day: fifteenth.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 16 Sam Lavelle; 2 Aaron McGowan; 5 Steven Old (Y); 22 Max Muller;
4 Alex Kenyon ; 24 Michael Rose (C) (Y) (8 Andy Fleming 70 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison; 29 Callum Lang (15 Aaron Wildig (Y) 45 mins); 14 Luke Conlan; 9 Vadaine Oliver (28 Adam McGurk 89 mins).

Subs not used: 20 Niall Maher; 10 Adam Campbell; 7 Garry Thompson ; 17 Mitchell Lund.

Stevenage: 13 Tom King; 25 Ronnie Henry (C); 33 Ben Wilmot; 4 Jack King; 3 Joe Martin; 2 Jonathan Smith (Y) (5 Fraser Franks 80 mins); 17 Dale Gorman (18 Tom Conlon 65 mins); 11 Tom Pett; 10 Ben Kennedy; 24 Matthew Godden; 19 Danny Newton (Y) (31 Jamie Gray 68 mins).

Subs not used: 1 Joe Fryer; 6 Luke Wilkinson; 20 Terence Vancooten; 34 Andronicos Georgiou.
Ref: Tom Nield