Date: 8th December 2015 at 9:53pm
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Morecambe returned to Fleetwood for the second season in a row to face Fleetwood in the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night. This – the second Northern Semi-Final – was to decide who would face Barnsley for the right to play in the national final at Wembley.

Last season, the Shrimps of League Two beat what are nowadays their more illustrious rivals but many things have changed as far as the Cos Army have been concerned since: the Manager, Steven Pressley, for example. Both teams had a reasonable amount of time to prepare for this match as neither of them progressed beyond the First Round of the FA Cup and were thus idle last Saturday.

On a very blustery night in Fleetwood, the home team chose to play with the wind behind them in the first half. It played a big part in proceedings, making it difficult for young Shrimps` goalkeeper Tony Thompson to clear his lines throughout. Fleetwood were the better team and the visitors ended-up playing with a line of five rather than three at the back as the Cod Army tried to take advantage of the conditions. Bobby Grant had a couple of half chances for the hosts but Fleetwood`s best chance came after half an hour when Thompson totally missed a cross from a corner and Eggert Jonsson headed wide of an open goal. At the other end, the visitors` forward line of Tom Barkhuizen, Kevin Ellison and Blackburn Rovers loanee Anton Forrester were constantly guilty of either failing to hold the ball up or cheaply giving it away: Chris Maxwell in the home goal didn`t have a single save to make.

With the wind at their backs, Morecambe`s performance immediately improved in the second period. After Fleetwood didn`t clear a corner properly, Shaun Beeley`s long throw right into the goalmouth after fifty minutes was headed backwards by Nathan Pond only to be cleared away from the line by one of his fellow Fleetwood defenders. Two minutes later, Aaron Wildig had a long-range shot which went fairly tamely wide. But Fleetwood went ahead with virtually their first attack after sixty-three minutes when Grant took the ball along the wing and slung the ball over as the Shrimps` defenders backed off. Substitute David Ball was the fastest to react and swept the ball in with a shot which hit the crossbar on its way into the net. Jim Bentley`s response was to take Paul Mullin off and replace him with Jamie Devitt but it didn`t really make a lot of difference. The Cods could have gone further ahead just a few minutes later when Davis Henen had an excellent opportunity to score after Thompson had blocked a shot but failed to hold it. The home team then started to boss the game again and Jimmy Ryan scored again after a bad mistake by Andy Parrish after 63 minutes. That was it, really. Kevin Ellison wasted a chance to reduce the arrears near the end of the game but Morecambe`s performance tonight never really threatened to repeat the result of last season and at the end of it, Fleetwood won relatively comfortably. So the Cod Army sail on and the Shrimps turn their attention back exclusively to the league: their interest in all cup competitions ended with this defeat. It was easy to predict Jim Bentley`s reaction: just like the fish in Fleetwood, he was `gutted` by his team`s display tonight but was honest enough – as ever – to admit that the best team won.
Ref: Paul Tierney