Morecambe 0-0 Tranmere: Report

Morecambe may be more famed for one half of the comedy duo Eric and Ernie than football, but there were few smiles raised by Tranmere in this battling 0-0 draw.

Rovers struggled to break down the hosts, who rarely adventured forwards themselves in a game of limited chances.

Micky Adams was forced into one change from the line up which lost to Swansea last weekend, with Liam Ridehalgh returning in place of Janoi Donacein, who has now returned to Aston Villa from his loan spell at Prenton Park.

That meant Danny Holmes was switched to a more familiar role at right-wing-back, whilst Ridehalgh was on the left.

New loan signing Rory Donnelly meanwhile had to settle for a place on the bench, alongside second year scholars Ben Jago and Evan Gumbs as transfer listed quartet Abdulai Baggie, Eliot Richards, Antonie Boland and James Rowe were left at home.

Rovers started the game brightly, and although they found a resolute Morecambe defence standing in their way as they tried to find a route to goal, the visitors were able to pass the ball around confidently with some neat interchanges in midfield.

However, with a bracing wind battering the area, conditions were far from ideal for “total football.”

Things were certainly difficult for Owain Fon Williams and his defenders, who regularly found their hoofed clearances struggling to find the opposition half, no matter how hard the ball was kicked.

Midfielder Jamie Devitt had the first chance for the hosts, curling just over the bar with a free-kick from 25-yards, whilst minutes later Andreas Arestidou scurried across his line as Shamir Fenelon’s turn and shot took a deflection and looped just wide.

Half an hour in, Micky Adams was forced to shuffle his pack after Marcus Holness was stretchered off having picked up an injury whilst tussling with Kevin Ellison.

Rory Donnelly, making his debut after signing on loan from Swansea on Thursday, replaced him as Rovers switched to a 4-3-3 formation.

The striker’s impact was almost instant, as he flashed a powerful left-footed shot just wide of the far post after receiving Cole Stockton’s lay-off.

At the other end, and with just four minutes until the break, Morecambe finally became the first side to test one of the goalkeepers.

Indeed, Jack Redshaw’s 25-yard shot had Owain Fon Williams worried, as it bounced just in front of the Welsh international who clung on at the second attempt.

Moments later, Morecambe had another great chance as Ellison ran onto a wind-assisted long ball and clipped just wide of the far post before his 20-yard strike took a deflection and dropped over the bar.

The teams therefore went in all square at half-time after what was a largely forgettable 45 minutes.

But after the break, with the wind now in their favour, Rovers started strongly, with Marc Laird heading narrowly over the bar after being well picked out by Ridehalgh.

Donnelly then tried his luck from range again, this time not quite getting enough whip on his curling 25-yard effort as the ball flew wide, before Stockton shot straight at Arestidou from a similar range.

The ‘keeper was called into action again moments later as Ridehalgh’s free-kick caught the wind and was heading for the top corner before being saved, whilst at the other end Fon Williams had to dive full stretch to his left to catch a dangerous Ellison cross.

With a quarter of the game remaining Micky Adams turned to his substitutes and went for the jugular as Tranmere looked for the three points.

Fenelon was replaced by Jason Koumas, who returned from a month out with an ankle injury, whilst transfer-listed forward George Donnelly made a surprise appearance as Marc Laird was withdrawn.

Like his namesake, George Donnelly made an immediate impact, curling into the arms of Arestidou after Danny Holmes had surged forward before feeding the ball into him on the right.

With the game entering it’s final ten minutes, it looked like something special was needed to break the deadlock.

Former Rovers player Ellison thought he could provide it, but he was muscled off the ball by Holmes as he charged goalwards, with the referee waving away his appeals for a penalty.

Ellison was somewhat of a pantomime villain, with the Tranmere fans remembering his antics at Prenton Park earlier this season, and he left the field shaking his head at their booing and taunts moments later after being substituted.

The striker, who started his career under Micky Adams at Leicester and has bagged eight goals this season, had an unusually quiet afternoon, so credit must go to the Rovers defence who marshalled him well throughout the game.

In the closing minutes, Fon Williams did well to hang on to a bobbling long-range effort from Redshaw, whilst Stockton was only able to fire over from 20-yards as they game ended a fair 0-0.

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