Date: 2nd September 2015 at 12:17am
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I read somewhere last week an account in which Morecambe Manager Jim Bentley suggested that an elbow in the face Adam Dugdale received against Portsmouth the previous Saturday has split his eyeball.

Eyeball? Surely he meant eyebrow. Or maybe even eyelid.

“He was such a mess when he came in on Monday morning that we sent him to see (hopefully, presumably) a Specialist.” This Specialist apparently told the Manager that although Adam`s Apple might be ok, if he continued to play with the current injury, he risked damage to his retina and potentially blindness in the eye. Forever.

“But he insisted he wanted to play!” said Big Jim before the win against Notts County last Saturday. “He went to the Lancaster Hospital to have dye injected into his eye (am I alone in cringing at just the thought of this?) this morning. It takes about five hours to work. At two o`clock, he still couldn`t see out of the eye so I told him there was no way he could play.”

But he did – all ninety minutes at Centre Half.

Do you give players like this medals – or do you take them quietly away somewhere for treatment and perhaps re-education? Even diehard Shrimps supporters wouldn`t give up their eyesight for the cause. So why should a man who has never even played for the First Team previously do so? (Answers below please?)

Dugdale was Skipper of the team which faced Walsall in the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy for the first time in any competition at the Globe on Tuesday night. He played brilliantly – and so did his team-mates, who were a credit to Morecambe Football Club and League Two. The Saddlers arrived as Finalists in this competition last season, where only high-flying Bristol City ultimately beat them. In League One, they are not only top of the pile currently but also unbeaten in any competition before tonight, having won three in a row (most recently 0-4 at troubled local Shrimps` rivals Blackpool) after a draw on the opening day of the campaign in the League. They have also knocked two Championship sides – Nottingham Forest and Brighton & Hove Albion – out of the League Cup in the last few weeks. So it would be quite a feather in Morecambe`s cap if they could get the better of their visitors from the Midlands.

The first half was a very even affair with both teams trying to pass and run: there was no clogging it and no Long Ball stuff. Arsene Wenger would have been proud of both teams? Morecambe probably had the best of the opening moments but Barry Roche pulled-off the first meaningful save of the match, tipping-over a long range shot for a corner after six minutes. Dugdale played a lovely pass forward after thirteen minutes which Walsall defenders headed away for another corner. It was a feature of the game, however, that the visitors constantly wasted their set-pieces: far too many dead ball kicks went straight into touch having cleared the Morecambe penalty area and on more than one occasion, the Saddlers found themselves retreating towards their own goal at speed having conceded possession to the hosts from corners and free kicks. The closest either side came to scoring so far was in the 26th minute when Paul Mullin just failed to connect with a clever pass from the right wing: it took the combined efforts of Craig MacGillivray and two of his defenders to clear the danger. On the half hour, the visitors also had a chance but Roche was equal to it, diving low to his right to stop a snap-shot from about 25 yards out. Two minutes later, MacGillivray equalled this feat with an excellent save of his own at the expense of a corner which Mullin headed just over the bar. But as the half came to an end, you had a feeling that Walsall just might take the lead with their constant probing: Roche saved twice at least in the final five minutes and should have been beaten with two minutes left to play: Adam Chambers found the ball at his feet right in the centre of the penalty area with just the Morecambe keeper to beat – and failed to do so: his hurried shot just missed Roche`s left hand post.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first with both teams trying to play themselves into dangerous position sometimes at the expense of just risking a shot when well placed. With five minutes played, Mullin contributed to an impressive personal display on the night with a strong run down the Shrimps` left followed by a swerve into the penalty area and a shot which looped just over the bar. But the best chance of the match so far fell to Walsall after 55 minutes when a shot from one of their forwards hit a colleague on its way into the net and bounced off him straight into Barry Roche`s grateful hands. It turned out to be a very costly miss. Just two minutes later, a long cross from the Morecambe right cleared everyone in the penalty area only for an unmarked Jamie Devitt to control it and lob it in a single movement from the left hand side of the penalty area out of reach of MacGillivray and into the top left corner of his net: it was a simply sublime piece of skill. Mullin had a chance to break through again after 58 minutes and was stopped only by a very well timed last-ditch tackle. Dean Smith made wholesale changes just after the hour when he sent three substitutes on. But the fact that the very next corner Walsall won was lobbed right across the penalty area and straight into touch said it all for the Saddlers: they were just a little off the pace all night. Morecambe weren`t though. After seventy-one minutes and following another outstanding save high to his left by the Shrimps` custodian, the very impressive Tom Barkhuizen ran at the Walsall rearguard yet again and unleashed a fierce shot from the right of the penalty area which beat a despairing MacGillivray`s dive low to his right and bulged the net in the corner of the goal. Two-nil to Morecambe and nothing less than their skilful and spirited performance against obviously very talented opposition merited. It could have been three after 74 minutes when Morecambe`s number nine struck another tremendous shot which smashed into the bar and nearly uprooted the goal frame: Devitt just missed from the rebound and I bet the crossbar is still vibrating now? Walsall didn`t give up and Roche was called on to make several more saves including an exceptional one from Anthony Forde after 77 minutes. But Barkhuizen almost had the last word with a fantastic diving header which only just missed with six minutes still scheduled to play. He was injured and limped off to a well-deserved standing ovation and the sponsors` Man of the Match accolade in injury time. For him personally, it was a match winning performance. But Jim Bentley`s patched-up side were really impressive throughout the contest and thoroughly deserved to go through to the second round.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 3 Aaron McGowan;7 Jamie Devitt; 5 Adam Dugdale (C); 10 Lee Molyneux; 4 Alex Kenyon ( 18 Charlie Bailey 71mins);13 Alan Goodall; 9 Tom Barkhuizen (Y) (14 Nathan Bondswell – 91′ ); 17 Andy Fleming; 12 Paul Mullin; 21 Jack Ryan (16 Shaun Miller 68 mins).
Unused Substitutes: 30 Keiran O’Hara.

Walsall: 13 Craig MacGillivray; 22 Liam Kinsella; 4 James O’Connor;16 Matt Preston; 3 Andy Taylor; 7 Adam Chambers;18 Kieron Morris (12 Anthony Forde 62 mins); 8 Sam Mantom (Y); 11 James Baxendale (10 Romaine Sawyers 62mins);15 Milan Lalkovic (21 Jordan Cook 62 mins); 9 Tom Bradshaw.
Unused Substitutes: 6 Paul Downing; 30 Dan Jezeph.
Ref: Sebastian Stockbridge