Date: 4th March 2017 at 5:47pm
Written by:

My, how things have changed since last time Morecambe visited Bloomfield Road for a competitive match. Just over four years ago, the Tangerines` previous game had been at Wembley, where if they had beaten West Ham, they would have made a quick return to the Premier League. Instead – with a virtually unchanged team including such players as Thomas Ince and Matt Phillips and with Ian Holloway still in charge – they were deservedly beaten1-2 by the Shrimps in the opening round of the League Cup. Since then, Blackpool`s demise has been legendary as their Manager and best footballers have departed for Pastures New whilst the continuing stewardship of the Oyston family has led to boycotts and all sorts of other revolts from previously loyal Tangerine fans. As the off-the-field situation has gone from bad to worse, the rump of the team which has remained on it has fallen regularly through the divisions to the point that the senior team on the Fylde Coast is now Fleetwood. Fleetwood are well-run, stable and ambitious. Blackpool are none of these things and have completely lost their way both as a business and a football club in recent times. On the pitch, Morecambe are a well-drilled and well-motivated outfit. Off it though, they are even more of a mess than today`s hosts: at least Blackpool supporters know who they want to be removed from the helm of the club but Shrimps fans can`t even tell you who owns theirs: and neither can anyone else currently. One thing about what happened in the wider football world today that probably sums-up the difference between Morecambe and Blackpool was that Tom Barkhuizen scored the first of what will doubtlessly be many goals for his latest club – Preston North End. Tom was discarded as not good enough by Blackpool to be hoovered-up by Morecambe, who saw the Championship potential in this truly gifted footballer. But the financial crisis which has afflicted the club ever since its acquisition by new owners (whoever they are) meant that Tom had to go in order to pay the bills.
If he – or Pocket Rocket Jack Redshaw (currently on loan to Rochdale from Blackpool) or Mark Duffy or Carl Baker – the list is endless -had stayed, maybe the Shrimps would have followed the Fleetwood trajectory. But simple survival in League Two must be the priority for a club whose ownership in its own way has been even more catastrophic than the regime at Blackpool in its own way.

On a very heavy pitch and with a noisy crowd from further north up the Irish Sea coast doing their best to make the fixture feel like a home game for the visitors, the home team took the lead after fourteen minutes when Andrew Fleming stood off Brad Potts and as Barry Roche stayed at home among a gaggle of players, Mark Cullen seemed to get enough of a touch to the resulting cross to deflect the ball into the Morecambe net. Roche had to be on his mettle to stop Potts increasing the lead almost immediately from kick-off with a typically excellent save. As the half drifted on, Blackpool were the brighter, sharper team and the visitors` defence looked all over the place at times but the lively Potts wasted a great chance to increase his team`s lead after 27 minutes when he should have squared the ball to strike partner Nathan Delfouneso but instead went for glory and missed the target altogether. With about a quarter of an hour left of the game, the visitors showed signs of waking-up and Fleming`s cross – aimed at Kevin Ellison – was headed away for a corner after 33 minutes before Ellison himself had a shot saved by Dean Lyness a couple of minutes later. Paul Mullin found himself unmarked after a corner which was flicked-on to him by Ryan Edwards with only seven minutes scheduled to play but his shot was well stopped by Lyness before Clark Robertson managed to bundle Alex Whitmore`s attempt from the rebound to safety.

So the teams went in with the Shrimps losing at half time and with Blackpool the dominant force so far. The main hope for the visitors was that they had enjoyed an increasing share of the play as the half had worn on and were playing quite fluently on the break.

Although they created no clear chances, Morecambe continued to play the better football at the beginning of the second half only to be caught on the counter-attack on 54 minutes when Kelvin Mellor ran powerfully at the Shrimps` rearguard and then fed ex-Carlisle United forward Potts to get the goal he deserved on the day with a right-footed shot from the right hand side of the box which crept under the body of Roche. Shrimps` Captain Peter Murphy was immediately booked for his protestations that a free-kick should have been awarded to his team – some of whom had clearly stopped playing – in the build-up to the goal for a seemingly obvious foul on Fleming. But you have to play to the whistle, as they say – and no whistle was blown. Murphy himself then made a mistake after 64 minutes but Jordan Flores wasted the chance to put the game to bed with a shot which was relatively easily saved by Big Baz in the Morecambe net. Rhys Turner came on late in the game and unsettled the Blackpool defence with his pace but Blackpool went even further ahead when Ryan Edwards inadvertently looped the ball over his own goalkeeper with a cross which struck his foot after eighty minutes.

Everton loanee Antony Evans had just come on at this point in the game and virtually his first contribution was to smash the ball home following a goal mouth scramble with 83 minutes played. After this, Morecambe took the game to Blackpool again but it was too little, far too late and the game ended 3-1 to the hosts.

So the Tangerines chalked-up their first home win since November last year. The victory saw them move up League Two to eleventh position. It was a disappointing display from Morecambe by recent standards and their second defeat in twelve matches this year so far saw them drop to fifteenth.

Blackpool: 27 Dean Lyness; 2 Kelvin Mellor; 6 Will Aimson; 15 Tom Aldred; 5 Clark Robertson; 23 Colin Daniel (Y); 28 Jack Payne (37 Ian Black 84 mins); 12 Jordan Flores (21 Bright Osayi-Samuel 67 mins); 8 Brad Potts; 30 Nathan Delfouneso; 9 Mark Cullen (31 Armand Gnanduillet 73 mins).

Subs not used: 25 Myles Boney; 16 Eddie Nolan; 29 Sanmi Odelusi; 36 Raul Correira.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche (Y); 2 Liam Wakefield; 5 Ryan Edwards; 16 Alex Whitmore (18 Rhys Turner 60 mins); 15 Michael Duckworth; 17 Andy Fleming (3 Aaron McGowan 75 mins); 8 Peter Murphy (C)(Y); 15 Aaron Wildig (21 Antony Evans 79 mins); 10 Lee Molyneux; 11 Kevin Ellison; 7 Paul Mullin.

Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 27 Luke Jordan; 14 Luke Conlan; 27 Luke Jordan.
Ref: Tony Harrington