Pick Up The Pieces.
Exeter arrived in North Lancashire today mindful that Paul Tisdale’s team lost here just five months ago – a defeat which severely dented their promotion ambitions. In March, their Manager took his seat as the longest-serving in the entire EFL. But Tisdale has moved of his own accord to Pastures New in the meantime. So Jim Bentley now holds the record as the man with the longest period of time at the helm of any Football League club.
Jim was typically forthright at Gresty Road just twenty minutes after his team had been ripped apart by Crewe Alexandra and lost six-nil last Saturday. He made no excuses and didn’t try to blame anyone else for the side’s absolutely dismal display. He has been busy this week and Josef Yarney was thrust straight into the Shrimps’ wobbly back line after being signed on-loan from Newcastle just yesterday. Three days ago, A-Jay Leitch-Smith was taken-on as well to try and inject some much-needed bite into a forward line which hasn’t scored – and has rarely looked like doing so – in five games in a row now before today.
The one thing that could be said for certain – whatever happened on the pitch today – is that Morecambe simply could not play as badly as they did last Saturday against Crewe. Newcomer Liam Mandeville (of whom great things are expected) was hopeless then. Andrew Tutte wasn’t fit, let alone match fit. Jordan Cranston looked shaky and his attempt to prevent Crewe’s final headed goal was literally pathetic. So much for the new boys. As for the Old Guard (no offence, Steven); Kevin Ellison was anonymous, Vadaine Oliver squandered a golden opportunity; looked like his confidence is totally shot and Alex Kenyon had an absolute stinker.
Morecambe’s record against Exeter since the latter returned to the League hasn’t been brilliant. Including last March’s contest, they have won only three of fourteen matches against the Grecians. Under new Manager Matt Taylor, Exeter beat Carlisle United (to whom Mr Bentley has managed to unload Adam Campbell on loan this week) 3-1 in their opening game of the season and he clearly hopes to improve on Exeter’s defeat by Coventry in the Play-Offs last term.
As predicted, Morecambe weren’t as bad as last time out. They probably shaded things most of the time during the first half. There was less of the hoof and hope football the team has played far too often in recent times. Having said that, Exeter had the first decent chance of the game when Hiram Boateng only just missed Barry Roche’s left hand post with a smart shot after a quarter of an hour. The Shrimps also had the rub of the green firstly when a nasty off the ball exchange between Boateng and Andy Fleming with seventeen minutes on the clock wasn’t seen by the referee. If it had been, Morecambe’s Number Eight would have been having an early bath; he clearly used his studs on the opposition player. The Shrimps were probably lucky, too, a minute or so later when the visitors had what looked like a very strong shout for a penalty following what looked like handball by a Morecambe defender. In a generally bad-tempered opening period, Morecambe had the first gilt-edged opportunity of the match, though. Their best player – Aaron Wildig – did brilliantly to deliver a cross from the right wing to an unmarked Kevin Ellison who was caught in two minds as to whether to volley or head the ball and achieved neither as the chance came to nothing. Jordan Cranston then tried his luck with a long-range shot which Vadaine Oliver got on the end of but Christy Pym in the Exeter goal did well to keep him out after forty minutes. But the home side fell behind when Cranston lost the ball to Lee Holmes, who raced into the penalty area only to have his legs taken away with a crude challenge by the full-back. It was an obvious penalty which Pierce Sweeney dispatched with ease.