Date: 12th March 2016 at 5:12pm
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Morecambe had an absolutely equal record against Saturday`s visitors AFC Wimbledon before kick-off: nine games played, three won by each side and the rest of them drawn. Last October – when the Shrimps were scoring goals for fun – they ran riot in London, winning the League Two encounter by five goals to two. Things have changed a lot since those heady times, though and as Morecambe`s form has become ever more dire, the Dons have forced their way into contention for promotion.

The hosts had the better of the early exchanges and the visitors` goalkeeper Kelle Roos did well to deny Tom Barkhuizen at the cost of a corner after sixteen minutes when the Shrimps` striker found himself with a clear run on goal. The Dons gradually came to life as the half progressed, however, with Rhys Murphy increasingly lively up front. He put the ball into the back of the net when it fell to him after Barry Roche did well to block a fierce shot from Lyle Taylor with just over half an hour played – but Wimbledon`s number 39 was off-side. Right at the end of the half, he looked suspiciously off-side again but managed to miss narrowly when referee Geoff Eltringham waved play-on and he had an unchallenged run on the Morecambe goal.

There were chances at both ends at the beginning of the second period. Barkhuizen nodded just over the bar after 49 minutes and then a thunderbolt of a shot from Barry Fuller was well saved again by Roche in the bottom right hand side of the goal five minutes later. Lots of corners to both sides endued but Morecambe took the lead after 76 minutes when, following a good effort from Shaun Miller, substitute Andy Fleming beat Roos with a shot from twelve yards out. Fleming – reappearing after suspension – was booked for his over-exuberant celebration of the goal. From kick-off, the Dons charged back up the pitch and were unlucky not to equalise when Taylor`s shot crashed against Roche`s post but bounced harmlessly away. But things got even better for the home side when Jonathan Meades brought-down Barkhuizen in the penalty area with 79 minutes played and was sent-off. Jamie Devitt scored from the spot to make it two-nil. So Morecambe found themselves two-nil up and facing ten men. Surely they wouldn`t mess it up from this position with only ten minutes left?

They contrived to do so – not for the first time this season. From Meades` sending-off, there was only one team in it and the Shrimps` Achilles Heel – their hopeless defending – was there again for everyone to see. Literally right at the death – in the ninetieth minute – the visitors pulled one back when George Francom scored with a right-footed shot. And as the home defence was at sixes and sevens, Wimbledon forced good saves from Roche, won a succession of corners and should have equalised in the ninety-third minute when Adebayo Azeez put the ball wide when faced with an open goal. But the home team weathered the storm and their run of ten winless games finally came to an end.

So the rot has stopped. Jim Bentley has said that his team has not had the rub of the green recently. He couldn`t have said that today. The victory puts Morecambe into seventeenth position; the loss means that Neal Ardley`s team drop-out of the play-off positions to ninth.