Morecambe’s record against Swindon Town is Spartan indeed. Phil Brown brought the latest incarnation of the club once known simply as the Spartans right in control of an appalling record as far as the Shrimps are concerned: five games played; none won; four lost.
But the spray-tanned Medallion Man in charge of the Robins personally has an equally appalling record against today’s opponents. So appalling, in truth, that I can’t get the internet to cough-up the facts and figures without clearance from at least MI5½ – and I personally can’t be bothered to work them out for myself.
But something had to give somewhere today. Would the immovable force of Swindon overcome the Monkey their Manager has on his back as far as the Shrimps are concerned from his time as Manager of Southend United? His team arrived in eighth position in League Two, having harvested twelve points from the seven matches they have played so far. With Swindon’s first choice goalkeeper away on International duty with Chile, today was the day 35-year old Luke McCormick had a rare opportunity to make his presence felt between the sticks.
It was wet and windy at the North Lancashire seaside when the game kicked-off. Both teams fashioned some decent moves during the opening twenty minutes or so but neither of the goalkeepers was tested during this period. Vadaine Oliver headed a cross from Aaron Wildig over the bar with almost a quarter of an hour played and Steven Old was busy at the back for Morecambe, making a couple of key tackles and blocking a shot from Keshi Anderson as well. But the visitors went ahead with their first meaningful attack after 25 minutes. Marc Richards held the ball up intelligently before slipping it past Luke Conlan to the incoming Jak McCourt, who slipped it coolly past Barry Roche in the home goal. The Shrimps got straight back at the visitors and Town struggled to clear the ball from a corner just a minute after going ahead. A key moment of the match arrived after 32 minutes. Kyle Knoyle slid into a tackle with Wildig with his studs showing and was issued with a straight red card by referee Paul Marsdale. It wasn’t a particularly malicious foul by the Swindon man but off he went to cause his manager to re-shuffle his pack. Phil Brown brought on defender Oliver Lancashire to replace forward Anderson and his approach to the rest of the match – to try and hang on to what they already had – was established at this point. It was All Hands To The Pump after 38 minutes when Nelson did brilliantly to cover some ground in order to block a shot from the well-placed A-Jay Leitch-Smith. Right on half-time, McCormick pulled-off a truly miraculous stop by somehow or other keeping Liam Mandevill out from point-blank range. So the visitors went in at half time a goal up but a man down.
Morecambe came out with a different strip for the second half: blue instead of red. The referee also changed from a blue to a yellow strip. Would this also change the outcome of the match? A-Jay had the first chance of the second period, forcing McCormick into a low save with just two minutes played. The Robins’ goalkeeper also had to save a header from Oliver after 51 minutes – the Shrimps’ striker had the chance to bury the ball but headed it tamely straight at the man between the posts. As the match grew older, the visitors increasingly started to dominate the play. Elijah Adebayo had the best chance since Town’s goal after 71 minutes when he appeared in an unmarked position behind the Shrimps’ defence but Roche did well to save his attempt. Shortly afterwards, substitute Jermaine McGlashan caught Old in possession but Big Baz again did well to smother the ball before the Robins’ man could do anything with it. There was a belated effort from the home team towards the end of the contest and the Swindon defence were required to regularly head the ball away in the dying moments. In injury time, McCormick again did well to keep out a header – as Jason Oswell seemed certain to knock the rebound home, Nelson produced a brilliant block literally at the last moment to ensure his team took all three points back to Wiltshire.
This was Town’s first win away from home this term. Given that they had only ten men for most of the game, they must be commended for hanging onto the lead they established in the first half. As for Morecambe, this was another disappointing display by any measure. They won’t got many better chances to beat a weakened team but a goal rarely looked a certainty as far as the hosts were concerned. They’re not hopeless and they play some decent stuff at times but you do wonder yet again both where the goals will come from and when they can expect to keep a clean sheet. With Notts County being hammered at Exeter and Macclesfield losing again as well, the Shrimps still find themselves out of the relegation positions. But they can’t keep on relying on other teams’ poor form. Today’s win pushes Swindon Town into the very enviable position of a Play-Off position in seventh place in the table.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Zak Mills; 5 Steven Old (Y); 3 Luke Conlan; 14 Josef Yarney; 15 Aaron Wildig; 8 Andy Fleming; 19 Carlos Mendes-Gomes; 14 Liam Mandeville; 28 A-Jay Leitch-Smith (11 Kevin Ellison 76 mins); 18 Rhys Oates (24 Joe Piggott 69 mins); 9 Vadaine Oliver.
Subs not used: 13 Dawid Szczepaniak; 25 Ben Hedley; 16 Sam Lavelle; 12 Jason Oswell; 27 Jordan Cranston.
Swindon Town: 23 Luke McCormick; 2 Kyle Knoyle (R); 5 Sid Nelson; 32 Luke Woolfenden; 31 Matt Taylor; 3 Michael Doughty; 4 Jak McCourt (Y); 11 Steven Alzate (14 Ellis Iandolo 78 mins); 10 Keshi Anderson (6 Oliver Lancashire 37 mins); 9 Marc Richards (7 Jermaine McGlashan 70 mins); 17 Elijah Adebayo.
Subs not used: 12 Will Henry; 16 Martin Smith; 24 Scott Twine; 25 Joe Romanski.
Referee: Paul Marsden.