Town 4 Morecambe 1
Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Rhys Sharpe (Mickey Demetriou, 90), Liam Lawrence (c), Connor Goldson, Jermaine Grandison, James Collins (Andy Mangan, 85), Ryan Woods, Bobby Grant, Mark Ellis, Cameron Gayle, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro (Tyrone Barnett, 85)
Subs not used: Mark Halstead, Mikael Mandron, Keith Southern, Scott Vernon
Morecambe: Andreas Arestidou, Shaun Beeley (Tom Stewart, 50), Mark Hughes (c), Ryan Edwards, Jack Redshaw (Paul Mullin, 85), Andrew Wright (Alex Kenyon, 65), Kevin Ellison, Stewart Drummond, Andy Fleming, Laurence Wilson, Andy Parrish
Subs not used: Jamie Devitt, Alan Goodall, Aaron McGowan, Padraig Amond
Referee: S. Atwell
Assistants: N. Greenhalgh & J. Mainwaring
Fourth Official: S. Copeland
Attendance: 1,363 (246 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from Globe Arena
Shrewsbury got back to winning ways in Lancashire this evening with a 3-1 win against Morecambe. They had trailed to a Jack Redshaw goal but quickfire strikes from Connor Goldson and James Collins had put Town in command at the break with a 2-1 lead. Shrimps keeper Andreas Arestidou was sent off early in the second half and Town kicked on with late goals by Jermaine Grandison – an absolute belter – and Tyrone Barnett.
Town made three changes to their starting line-up after the disappointing 1-0 defeat at promotion rivals Wycombe on Saturday. Rhys Sharpe was handed a debut in place of Mickey Demetriou, skipper Liam Lawrence replaced Jordan Clark – who failed to make the squad – and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro was preferred up top for deadline day capture Barnett, who took his place alongside Demetriou on the bench. Keeping them company was Andy Mangan who had recovered from a lengthy spell in the treatment room.
It was a chilly night in Lancashire and there was a sparse crowd inside this tiny Globe Arena as Morecambe got proceedings underway.
Shrews almost made a lightning start and former Town keeper Arestidou might have had a face to match the colour of his teammates shirts. A routine back pass caught the Shrimps’ keeper in two minds and Collins hurried him into a poor clearance. It was all along the floor and Lawrence hit his shot first time from 30 yards which the keeper managed to save low to his left to spare his own blushes.
It was the away side doing most of the pressing in the opening 10 minutes with the hosts not creating anything. Morecambe had lost their last three games here and you could have heard the proverbial pin drop amongst the home supporters.
Jim Bentley’s side were making error after error with Town hungrier and closing down the space to keep Morecambe penned inside their own half for long periods. Collins forced a corner when his deflected shot went over but in the build-up perhaps the Irishman was too honest - as he appeared to have his heels clipped in the area when turning inside the defender.
It was one-way traffic but midway through the half we were still waiting for the breakthrough. When the goal duly arrived after 28 minutes, wouldn’t you know that it would fall to the home side? The goal was scruffy in its build-up and its execution, with Redshaw’s shot carrying just about enough weight to ripple the netting after Jayson Leutwiler’s efforts to block with his legs.
So Town were behind with Morecambe’s first attempt on goal. But the Lancastrians lead would be soon enough cancelled out, and the goal was every bit as scruffy as the one which had put Bentley’s men in front. Not that anyone in blue and amber was complaining. A decent move down the left saw two Lawrence shots blocked, with the second one looping up in the air before dropping kindly for Goldson at the far post. His shot wasn’t the best but it was good enough to bring Salop level. Micky Mellon and his backroom staff celebrated the goal like it had won promotion already, and they were cheering again in a lot less time than it takes to boil a runny egg. The game was turned on its head when Collins notched a 14th league goal of the season. Grandison did well down the left channel and when his cross was only partially cleared, there was Town’s number 9 to smash the loose ball home.
Suddenly, we had a game on our hands with Shrewsbury’s passing a class above their opponents. They comfortably held the upper hand going into the break, although their lead was a narrow one.
Half-Time: Morecambe 1 Town 2
The second half got off to the most dramatic of starts. A flicked header got Akpa Akpro away and when he took the ball past Arestidou, the Greek stopper pulled him down and was immediately sent off. Sub keeper Tom Stewart came on for the sacrificed Shaun Beeley, but the Town management were irate at the award of a free-kick – convinced that JLAA had tumbled inside the box, although both decisions appeared to be the correct ones from our vantage point perched bang on halfway. After an eternity, the wall did its job but the visitors now held a one man, as well as a one goal advantage.
Stewart Drummond then picked up a yellow after a youthful Sharpe skipped away from the veteran, and although the Shrimps had found a bit of fire in their bellies, they still looked capable of wilting under pressure - with some of their earlier errors still very much in evidence. As Salop cranked up the pressure, Drummond was caught in possession by Akpa Akpro and Collins took up a brilliant position to the Frenchman’s right. But the striker chose to go it alone and took the wrong option. A minute later his diving header at the near post drifted wide of the far, when a third Town goal would surely have done for Morecambe.
A foul on Goldson by goalscorer Redshaw brought another caution, and allowed the rest of the players to take some liquids on board. It was tense stuff even though much of the play was spent in Morecambe’s half of the field. Only that third goal was missing and if it were to arrive, it would mark the first time this season where Town had managed to score more than twice in an away fixture.
Bobby Grant and JLAA created a superb opening for Goldson with eight minutes to play but Stewart made a crucial stop. But the goalkeeper was given no chance whatsoever when Grandison scored a goal all of his own making after 84 minutes. His jinking run after some patient ball retention down the left had opened up a gap and the defender, having seen it, had only one intention. He made his way into the box after one or two typical step overs, before opening up his body and deliberately picking out the bottom corner for 3-1 Town.
The goal had been coming. Shrews had toyed with the Shrimps and it was only a matter of time before they killed them off. Barnett and Mangan got the last five minutes or so for the pair that started up front, and Mangan almost scored with his first touch with a sharp shot on the turn that didn’t miss by very much.
Deep into added on time, Lawrence threaded a pass through for Barnett who gobbled up the chance to plant the ball firmly into the far corner for game, set and match.
Mellon’s boys answered their critics in style tonight and no-one could deny they were very worthy winners.
Full-Time: Morecambe 1 Town 4