Date: 15th August 2015 at 8:59pm
Written by:

Why do we do it? Why do we put ourselves through it? We all know what will happen – it always does. It`s not as if the Accrington fans haven`t warned us. They sing “You`ll Never Beat The Stanley!” every time we play them – and as far as the League is concerned, they`re absolutely right.

I must confess that I was whingeing-on in such a manner to my Missis before I set out for the game on Saturday lunchtime.

“It can`t go on forever!” she said. “Morecambe are bound to win eventually!”

“That`s what I thought to myself last season!” I said. “And the season before. And the season before that. And the season before that one as well. Oh – and the season before that one too, come to think of it. As well as?”

The fact of the matter is that Morecambe have NEVER beaten the Accies in sixteen previous attempts in League Two so to do. Even more depressingly, they have lost nearly all of the contests, occasionally abysmally badly. To be honest, I was thinking about writing to Jim Bentley earlier this week. “Dear Sir” I was going to say, “Why not forget about sports psychologists and all that stuff this week. Get a good hypnotist into the club and persuade the players that Saturday`s visitors are actually Southend United (who – as I`m sure you`ve noticed – have taken the cowardly way out of avoiding the ritual humiliation we usually inflict on them by escaping to League One this season.) This way, we might actually beat them. Yours Sincerely?”

I didn`t though, I can`t remember why – although I have the vaguest notion of the Missis saying `You are getting sleepy` and some sort of watch swinging backwards and forwards as she slipped the letter from my grasp and told her sister in the background that she didn`t intend to have to write another – `another`! – apology to `Mr Bentley`: “I`d never be able to look into those beautiful hazel eyes of his again?”

It was windy today although the sun was strong and the conditions were virtually ideal to play football. Accrington – in the predominantly yellow strip – duly did so. The always impressive Josh Windass took an excellent shot in the first minute and it soon became apparent that Captain Terry Gornell can still play a bit as well. As their `Ultras` noisily sang such classics as `Walking in a Stanley Wonderland` in the background, the visitors had chalked-up three corner kicks to Morecambe`s none with nine minutes played. But corners alone don`t win football matches. So when good approach play found Aaron Wildig unmarked in the Stanley penalty area after fifteen minutes, virtually the first thing custodian Jason Mooney had to do was pick the ball out of the net: Wildig swerved it cleverly round him with a perfectly controlled shot. Accrington warmed Barry Roche`s hands with a shot right after this and shortly afterwards, Paul Mullin went down in the Stanley penalty area after what might have been a foul but his reaction to it clearly didn`t impress Referee Stuart Attwell. This prompted the Ultras to remind us all that “There`s only One Paul Mullin” (plus a much ruder version of this) in recognition of the centre forward who served both clubs so reliably in the not very distant past. With nearly twenty minutes played, there was a nasty albeit accidental clash of heads between Gornell and Ryan Edwards which left the Accies` Skipper on the ground for a while. He didn`t return for the second half and this probably explains why. With twenty-four minutes on the clock, Mooney pulled off an extraordinarily agile save for such a big man when he managed to divert an absolute screamer from Kevin Ellison onto the angle of post and bar to his left and was fast enough to react to Big Kev`s attempt from the rebound by saving that as well. So it ended 1-0 to the hosts at half time in a game which was played with a high degree of skill by both sides and was always worth watching.

The second half more or less followed the same script. Stanley won a corner within a minute; Dean Winnard – the replacement Captain – warmed Roche`s hands again with a relatively weak shot just past the hour. At the other end, Mooney pulled off another exceptional stop, pushing a another good shot from Wildig away for a corner with 68 minutes played. From the resulting dead ball kick, he came and completely missed the cross as, behind him, Ellison was being held-down by an Accrington defender on the goal-line. In a game which swung from end to end, Stanley came closest to equalising after 73 minutes when Roche did brilliantly to block a shot from Windass only for Adam Morgan to blaze the rebound wildly just over the bar. On 84 minutes, the tie seemed to be effectively sealed when Mooney found himself rooted to the spot for once as the ball drifted over his head to land in the net behind him. It seemed a perfectly good goal. But as the home crowd celebrated, Mr Attwell disallowed it – why, I do not know. The visitors never gave up and in a game which continued to flow and was always good to watch, had a couple of half-chances. It was squeaky bum time for Shrimps` supporters – particularly given the history of this fixture – throughout the surely excessive injury time of five minutes but at the end of it all, Morecambe had won at very long last and the hoodoo had finally been broken.

The games between these clubs have often been feisty – and sometimes actually nasty – affairs. And there were a few handbags exchanged between the staff at the end of the game but other than that, it was played in a good spirit. In fact, the worst injury anyone received was after 53 minutes when Stanley`s unfortunate Shay McCartan who – his eye clearly on the ball which he cleared into touch as Shrimps players raced after him towards his own goal – was obviously totally unaware that a man mountain in the enormous shape of Jason Mooney was bearing down on him at speed in the opposite direction. He was completely flattened: it must have felt like being hit by a train – and needed prolonged treatment on the pitch. Of all Stanley`s advocates who witnessed the end of an unbelievable record today, he is probably the most fortunate in a strange sort of way: I wouldn`t be surprised if he can`t remember anything that happened after the fifty-third minute. To be fair, Accrington`s supporters cheered on their team even in adversity even at the end. Well done the Ultras. But I have a message for them next time they feel like chanting “You`ll never beat the Stanley!” – Never Say Never?

Oh – and I have a message for Jim Bentley too – remember to get that man I sent round earlier to click his fingers at the end of the match. Otherwise they`ll stay hypnotised forever?

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Sean Beeley; 6 Ryan Edwards; 22 Andy Parrish; 19 Laurence Wilson; 11 Kevin Ellison; 12 Paul Mullin (21 Jack Ryan 64 mins); 13 Alan Goodall; 15 Aaron Wildig; 7 Jamie Devitt (4 Alex Kenyon (Y) 83 mins); 10 Lee Molyneux (17 Andy Fleming 64 mins).

Substitutes: 20 Tony Thompson; 16 Shaun Miller; 3 Aaron McGowan.

Accrington Stanley: 33 Jason Mooney; 2 Matty Pearson; 3 Dean Winnard (Y); 4 Anthony Barry (11 Sean McConville 59 mins); 5 Tom Davies; 7 Piero Mingola; 8 Josh Windass; 10 Terry Gornell (C) (29 Billy Kee 45 mins); 12 Liam Wakefield; 13 Joe Wright; 28 Seamus Conneely (9 Adam Morgan 70 mins);
Substitutes: 1 Ross Etheridge; 15 Joe Wright; 21 Gerardo Bruna; 22 Adam Buxton.

Ref: Stuart Attwell