Stoke Russell – sorry – RUSTLE the Points.
I need to be very careful what I write tonight. It might turn-up on BBC Radio Stoke tomorrow. But what the hell. “Stoke and its surrounding towns are akin to the greatest examples of Renaissance architecture to be found anywhere in Western Europe.” There we are – I’ve said it. On their morning show, this will re-emerge as “Moron from Morecambe rants that Stoke is the biggest public toilet to be found anywhere in Britain!” In my experience, that’s what BBC Radio Stoke does. But that’s a pretty boring story and I digress anyway…
Tonight, Stoke City’s Academy side faced the Shrimps in a Checkatrade Trophy Northern Group A fixture. Their manager, Kevin Russell, said before the clash: “Any team in League Two is going to give you a stern test and I don’t think Morecambe will be any different. They lost narrowly at the weekend and they will be looking to avenge that result so we know it will be a difficult game and we must approach it in the right way. I have no doubt it will be a hard game and if we are not mentally and physically tuned in then it will be a difficult evening for us. However, if we go there with the right attitude then I’m sure we will be ok.”
Morecambe lost their only previous fixture at Carlisle 3-2 after being twice ahead. Stoke also lost – eventually – at Sunderland last month, 4-2 on penalties after a goalless 90 minutes.
Shrimps’ Manager Jim Bentley made eight changes from the team he named last Saturday to play Tranmere in League Two and explained before kick-off that he was forced into doing so by long-term injuries to several of his established squad and short-term worries about players such as Steven Old, Aaron Wildig and Vadaine Oliver.
City had the first effort of the game after six minutes when Harry Soutar’s header from Ollie Shenton’s free kick went just wide. The visitors then took the lead just three minutes later: Moussa Niakaté made a tremendous run down the wing and slung the ball low across to Shenton who took his time to steady himself before putting it past Mark Halstead into the Shrimps’ net. The Morecambe goalkeeper pulled off a tremendous save with quarter of an hour played, turning Mark Waddington’s goal-bound header from Shenton’s cross brilliantly round the post. With an injured Kevin Ellison having to go off after only 22 minutes, the Potters’ had the next chance as well straight after the substitution. Tre Pemberton reached the bye-line and slung over another low cross which Josh Tymon put over the bar. But Morecambe were level after 26 minutes when substitute Liam Mandeville took a corner and Jason Oswell got up highest to guide the ball past Jakob Haugaard in the visitors’ goal at the far post with his head. After this, the home team played the better football and created a few half-chances but the teams went in at half time all square at one each.
Morecambe were the first to threaten in the second half when Oswell got beyond the City defence after 54 minutes but he was flagged offside. But Stoke re-took the lead with almost an hour played when Tymon pounced on a misplaced pass right across the Morecambe danger area, slotted the ball to Tyrese Campbell and watched the son of ex-Arsenal star Kevin Campbell slot the ball low past Halstead into the corner of the net. Following a foul on Tymon for which Luke Conlan was booked, Campbell tried his luck again from the resulting free kick. But Halstead was equal to this one, pushing the shot away to safety. Jim Bentley shuffled his squad with ten minutes left but the nearest his team came to an equaliser was in the 89th minute when Haugaard did well to get down low to keep a shot from Ben Hedley out.
So – with two games played – Morecambe remain where they were at the start of the match: bottom of the table and dead and buried now as far as any further progress is concerned. Does Jim Bentley really care? Probably not a lot – not many Managers or supporters anywhere take this competition seriously. He will be far more concerned about who is available for Saturday’s League Two fixture at Carlisle – and how his patched-up side fares at Brunton Park. As for opposite number Kevin Russell, his lads did exactly what he asked them to before the game – hung on in there and won. They still have hopes of progressing to the next stage of the competition.
Morecambe: 21 Mark Halstead; 14 Josef Yarney; 16 Sam Lavelle; 3 Luke Conlan (Y); 27 Jordan Cranston; 25 Ben Hedley; 20 Lamine Jagne; 19 Carlos Mendes-Gomes (18 Rhys Oates 80 mins); 24 Joe Piggott (28 A-Jay Leitch-Smith 80 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison (14 Liam Mandeville 22 mins); 12 Jason Oswell .
Subs not used: 1 Barry Roche; 23 Tyler Brownsword; 6 Andrew Tutte; Amilcar Codjovi.
Stoke: 29 Jakob Haugaard; 2 Simranjit Thandi; 6 Scott Wara; 36 Harry Souttar (12 William Forrester 31 mins); Moussa Niakaté; 50 7 Tre Pemberton (Y); 34 Ollie Shenton; 14 Mark Waddington; 12 Josh Tymon (Y); 11 Daniel Jarvis; 26 Tyrese Campbell.
Subs not used: 13 Dániel Gyollai; 9 Gabriel Kyermateng; 16 James Jennings; 4 Ethan Stanton.