Date: 14th March 2017 at 9:55pm
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It is only three weeks since Morecambe drew their re-arranged League Two game at Rodney Parade but Newport County travelled to northern England on Tuesday night under the charge of a new coach, who has seemingly galvanised the Welsh club since the sacking of ex- Preston managerial failure Graham Westley earlier this month. In his first game in charge, ex-County player Mike Flynn masterminded a win at Dave Artell`s Crewe last Saturday. Tonight – as Captain Michael Rose re-appeared in the Shrimps` first team after suspension, his namesake Mitchell was unavailable for his new Boss in the Exiles` starting line-up following his own five match suspension for knocking the red card out of the referee`s hand when he was sent off after conceding a last minute penalty last month against Cambridge United to condemn his team to a draw after they had been leading 2-0. So Mr Flynn`s attempts to achieve the seemingly inescapable – relegation to the National League – were not helped before kick-off. And with County all of nine points adrift of safety right at the bottom of the EFL even before the game started, Newport would need all the help they could get tonight at the Globe Arena.

In front of a sparse crowd of just over a thousand, returnee Rose made a sublime pass to Rhys Turner within seconds of the start of the match but Sid Nelson cleared his effort from an acute angle off the Newport line to stop the visitors getting off to the worst of all starts. The Welsh side were soon at the other end of the pitch though and Alex Samuel drew a really excellent save from Barry Roche in the Morecambe net just three minutes later. Both teams had half chances and the Exiles actually forced no less than five corners in the first quarter of an hour but – as has been the case for most of the season so far – were unable to turn the opportunities they carved-out during the first half – notably for Sean Rigg and Tom Owen-Jones – into actual goals. So the teams went in all-square at half time due to wasteful finishing by the visitors and excellent work by the Shrimps` Irish custodian who made at least four good saves during the first half. Having had the first real chance to opening the scoring, however, Morecambe also had the last word in the half when Antony Evans` shot from well outside the box hit the crossbar in injury time with visiting keeper Joe Day a mere spectator.

Newport had the first good chance of the second half after four minutes. Alex Whitmore fouled Samuel; Dan Butler took the resultant free kick quickly and found David Pipe whose effort was cleared off the Morecambe goal line by Dean Winnard. Three minutes later though, Day earned his corn with a tremendous save from a curling Paul Mullin shot which was headed for the top corner of his net. After sixty-six minutes, the greater possession the visitors had enjoyed finally paid off when Whitmore again fouled Samuel but this time in the penalty area and Pipe scored from the spot with a shot straight down the centre of the goal. The Shrimps belatedly came to life after conceding and Owen-Evans did well to block an effort from substitute Lee Molyneux after 71 minutes. The home team then won a succession of corners – from one of which a header was again cleared off the line – before Rose chanced his arm from thirty yards and just missed after 83 minutes. Three minutes later, though, substitute Jazzi Barnum-Bobb also came close to sealing a rare win for the Exiles with a shot which only just missed the target as well. It was All Hands To The Pump in the massive seven minutes of injury time for the besieged Welsh visitors but Morecambe`s efforts to break down a resolute defence were too little too late and the Exiles returned to the Principality with what could turn out to be an absolutely crucial three points.

So the game ended with that rarest of things: a win for the supposedly worst team in the EFL. In fact, the three points lifted the Exiles off the bottom of the table for the first time this year as seemingly terminally mismanaged Leyton Orient lost 5-0 at Accrington. Mike Flynn now has a 100% record and – who knows? – maybe he can yet display some Welsh Wizardry and escape the jaws of the non-league monster. For the Shrimps, this third defeat in a row seems to indicate the usual end to a league season: a promising resurgence followed by a major decline. But at least they are not yet in relegation trouble and Jim Bentley – who was in charge of the team for the 300th time today – has already performed a minor miracle to achieve that, particularly given a situation off the field which makes Leyton Orient look like a perfectly well run club.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Liam Wakefield (15 Michael Duckworth 53 mins); 6 Dean Winnard; 5 Ryan Edwards; 16 Alex Whitmore; 24 Michael Rose(C); 17 Andy Fleming; 21 Antony Evans (8 Peter Murphy 78 mins); 18 Rhys Turner; 11 Kevin Ellison (10 Lee Molyneux 68 mins); 7 Paul Mullin.

Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 15 Aaron Wildig; 3 Aaron McGowan; 14 Luke Conlan.

Newport County: 1 Joe Day; 18 David Pipe; 3 Dan Butler; 40 Ryan Bird; 20 Tom Owen-Evans; 27 Sean Rigg (28 Mickey Demetriou 70 mins); 25 Mark O`Brien (Y) (19 Sid Nelson 80 mins); 17 Scot Bennett; 6 Joss Labadie (C); 15 Alex Samuel (41 Aaron Williams 87 mins).

Subs not used: 30 James Bittner; 13 Marlon Jackson; 42 Jaanai Gordon; 8 Mark Randall.

Ref: Peter Bankes