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2-1
16 September 2017 Venue Globe Arena Attendance

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English Football League - League Two

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REPORT| Exiles beaten by superior Morecambe at Globe Arena

16 September 2017

A double from Kevin Ellison ensured the Exiles returned to South Wales empty-handed with a 2-1 defeat to Morecambe.

After a relatively quiet opening, Ellison opened the scoring on 35 minutes. It came after Day had parried a shot from Elliott Osborne into the 38-year old’s path, who simply slid home the opener.

The Exiles weren’t behind for long, however, as Scot Bennett got the equaliser within 90 seconds of the restart. It was a clever reactive flick in the area, after reacting quickest to Mickey Demetriou’s drilled effort into the area.

But Ellison, so often the bane to the County side, was intent on making the headlines and he got his match-winner on 80 minutes.

Shrimps substitute Adam Campbell had the initial effort, only for Ellison to expertly guide it on its way into Joe Day’s top corner, of which the goalkeeper could do nothing about.

Mike Flynn elected to make one change to the side that beat Cheltenham Town 1-0 on Tuesday.

It was a like-for-like change as Ben Tozer came in for Sean Rigg, who was named on the bench. That meant that the Exiles stuck to the 3-5-2 formation selected in mid-week.

Morecambe manager Jim Bentley made two changes the starting team that battled to a 2-2 draw with Yeovil Town at Huish Park. That saw captain Alex Kenyon return to the starting side in place of Michael Rose, who dropped to the bench. The other change saw Dean Winnard miss out completely, with Max Muller coming in.

The changes meant they went for a 4-2-3-1 system from the off, with summer signing Adam McGurk the sole striker.

And McGurk was the man to be instantly involved in getting the home side a corner in the opening 60 seconds. His cross-field pass to Garry Thompson was blocked out by Dan Butler, with Joe Day confidently collecting the delivery.

Exiles fans didn’t have to wait too much longer for the side to create an opportunity, as Frank Nouble was fouled by Kenyon about 40 yards out. However, Dolan’s free-kick never really got off the ground and the home captain was there to smash away.

Tom Owen-Evans had the first meaningful chance of the game for either side in the 5th minute, his header landing on the roof of the goal, as both sides shared the opening battles.

On 11 minutes, Dolan came agonisingly close to giving the Exiles an early lead. His free-kick from a wide right position evaded everybody in the box, only to drift narrowly wide of the far post.

And the Exiles may have been made to pay for not taking that opportunity, had the home side been a bit livelier in the box.

A long ball from Patrick Brough found Thompson unmarked in the area, although nobody could connect to his drilled cross along the six-yard box.

It was a quiet opening for both goalkeepers, with neither having to make a save until the 17th minute. Joe Day was the man called into action on that occasion, beating away an Adam McGurk effort from just inside the area.

A Nouble flick-on presented Tozer with a decent opportunity just after, with the midfielder, who was making his first league start since January, unlucky to see his header clip the crossbar on the way over.

Veteran Kevin Ellison, scorer of two goals already this campaign, curled wide when he probably should have hit the target, as the game approached the 25-minute mark.

At that stage it was a very balanced game, with the two defences starring, as both keepers only had to make one save between them in the opening exchanges.

Garry Thompson looked the best player for the home side, Demetriou and Butler doing well to limit his threat down the right-hand-side, Nouble looking his usual presence for the Exiles up-front.

Ellison fired straight at Day on the half-hour, with Pipe seeing an effort from 35-yards blocked within seconds of Day launching a counter-attack.

The corner count was racking up for the home side, four in the opening 33 minutes, and they could have taken the lead from either of the two most recent ones.

First, a Demetriou clearance prevented Thompson from having the simple task of a free header, with Kenyon heading narrowly wide from the next one.

It looked as if the home-side were slowly getting the ascendency and they took the lead in the 35th minute.

An Elliott Osborne effort was saved superbly by Day at his far post, only to parry the rebound into the path of Ellison, who slid home the opener.

But the Exiles weren’t to be behind for long as they equalised within 90 seconds of the restart.

A Dolan corner found Demetriou at the far post, who drilled a ball across the face of the area, which Bennett superbly turned home after reacting quickly and beating his marker at the near post.

The game was starting to really liven up at the Globe Arena, and Morecambe thought they could have had a penalty on 40 minutes.

Ellison in particular looked certain that it was a handball by the County goal scorer, although the referee waved away the protests and gave a corner to the home side.

It took until the 42nd minute for the game’s first yellow card to be given out by referee Darren Drysdale, Demetriou the man booked for an aggressive lunge at Aaron McGowan.

Owen-Evans flashed a speculative effort just wide as the game approached time added on, with two minutes indicated at the end of the first-half.

But no further chances could be created as the two sides went in level at the interval. It was a finely balanced contest, the home side perhaps edging things in terms of chances created, but both defences were performing well.

Bennett was arguably County’s best player in the first-half, not just for scoring the goal, but for heading away numerous balls that would have fell for Ellison if it wasn’t for his interventions.

Flynn decided to make a solitary change at the interval. Sean Rigg, who had been prepared to come on before the Exiles equaliser, did now enter the play as Dolan was withdrawn.  

Osborne was the architect of the opening chance of the second-half, but nobody reacted in the area to his blocked effort.

County retaliated within seconds, Nouble as always a menace down the left-side, skipping past McGowan and crossing a ball which was just inches away from finding Padraig Amond free at the far post.

And Nouble was in again on 55 minutes, drifting past McGowan with ease, only to fire his shot on the angle high and wide of the far post.

That made Bentley make his first change of the afternoon just before the hour, Osborne being replaced by Michael Rose.

Shrimps manager Bentley would have been pleased with the response from the side following the substitution, although was probably frustrated by Aaron Wildig, who fired wide when put through on goal by McGurk.

Ben White scuffed a volley out for a throw moments later, Ellison again a nuisance for the home-side, volleying straight at Day.  

And Day would be called into another one of his trademark saves on 65 minutes, somehow clawing away a McGurk header from just inside the area, as the home side went in search of a first win since the opening day.

Reynolds came on for the second Exiles change, replacing Owen-Evans, as Flynn went for an alteration in system, matching the home side with a 4-2-3-1 formation.

It would be fair to say that the half wasn’t moving at the pace of the first, Ellison heading over the bar on 75 minutes.

Bentley made his second substitution just after to try and reignite the spark from his side, Adam Campbell on for Wildig.

But if anything, it only went to inspire the Exiles, Reynolds slicing a shot wide on the angle after being distracted by potential penalty appeals from his team-mates.

However, just as it looked like County were upping the intensity, Ellison stopped them in their tracks with his second of the afternoon.

On 80 minutes, the substitute Campbell unleashed a rocket which looked like going in by itself, only for Ellison to just apply the finishing touch into the top corner.

Shawn McCoulsky came on immediately for the Exiles, in place of Bennett, in what brought about another formation change for County, Andrew Fleming coming on for the home-side at the same time.

Four additional minutes indicated it was County’s time to chuck everything at the home side, but in fairness to the them, they looked like they may extend their lead, before the referee blew his whistle for full-time.

It was a first defeat for County in three visits to the Globe Arena, and the second of the league campaign this season, leaving the Exiles in 9th place at the final-whistle.

County: Day, Pipe (C), Butler, White, Bennett (McCoulsky 82’), Demetriou, Dolan (Rigg 45’), Tozer, Owen-Evans (Reynolds 65’), Amond, Nouble

Subs not used: Bittner, Willmott, Quigley, Jahraldo

 

Morecambe: Roche, McGowan, Brough, Kenyon (C) (Fleming 82’), Old, Thompson, Ellison, Wildig (Campbell 75’), Osborne (Rose 59’), Muller, McGurk

Subs not used: Nizic, Lavelle, Lund, Lang

 

Referee: Darren Drysdale

Attendance: 1,189 (157 away)

Next up for County: Grimsby Town (23rd September) HOME

 

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