Ellison 19, Devitt 82
ILLOGICAL, Jim. How Morecambe manager Jim Bentley was able to frank his August Manager of the Month award another three-pointer at the Globe Arena was almost incomprehensible.
A late goal by Jamie Devitt, which was as unexpected as Kevin Ellison’s opener, negated almost total dominance by Argyle who will have spent the 300-plus mile coach journey home wondering how they did not turn their supremacy from first whistle to last into goals.
Morecambe took the lead midway through the first half, when Ellison dollied Morecambe’s only on-target shot of the first half shot past Luke McCormick, but were ahead only briefly as Peter Hartley headed Argyle level with his first goal since his summer move from Stevenage.
It seemed as though a point was the minimum the Pilgrims would take back to Home Park before Devitt popped up with the late winner for his gaffer. What was it Napoleon said about generals?
Argyle manager John Sheridan had made one change of personnel from the starting 11 that had paved the way for the Pilgrims’ 1-0 victory at Luton seven days previously and, in the process, he switched his formation to match Morecambe’s 4-3-3.
Marvin Morgan, who had missed the Kenilworth Road trip with a cold, came straight back into the starting line-up to take his place up front alongside Reuben Reid and former Shrimp Lewi Alessandra. Jason Banton was the man to make way.
Morecambe brought in strikers Paul Mullin and Padraig Amond, who scored the winner in the corresponding meeting between the two sides a year earlier when the Shrimps came back from conceding a Reid penalty to triumph 2-1.
The home side, looking to get back to winning ways at the Globe Arena after a goal-less draw in the top-of the-table clash with Cheltenham last time out, were soon under the pump but broke away from the yoke of concerted Argyle pressure for unmarked Ellison to head Andrew Wright’s cross over.
The Pilgrims, though, soon resumed their occupancy of the Morecambe half of the field and went close to opening the scoring through a Reid free-kick that was well save by Shrimps’ ’keeper Barry Roche.
Such was Argyle’s dominance of possession that it was something of a shock when Morecambe took the lead with a goal so soft you could have had a good night’s sleep on it.
The ball came in from a free-kick on the Morecambe left and somehow found its way from a red shirt to Ellison who powder-puffed a left-foot shot so gently that it rocked McCormick and his defenders on to their heels and the ball trickled limply over the line.
The Pilgrims briefly had to repel the home side’s confidence-boosted momentum, with captain Curtis Nelson body-blocking their most dangerous shot from Andy Fleming, before drawing the sting altogether in unequivocal fashion.
Hartley was the man to bring the scores level after Argyle had been in arrears for less than seven minutes, but it was former Globe favourite Alessandra who was almost wholly responsible for leveller with about as perfect a free-kick delivery for a team-mate’s head that you will ever see.
Argyle resumed their territorial and possessive supremacy, with Anthony O’Connor dictating most of their affairs from central midfield, to such an extent that, when the teams went in for the half-time break, the stats had the Pilgrims with a Barcelona-like 55% possession. Away from home.
Morecambe clearly needed the respite and showed signs of having used the break well in the opening minutes after the interval, forcing a corner from which central defender Ryan Williams headed over.
Argyle, though, were soon back into their composed stride. In fact, the main danger they faced came from their encampment in the Shrimps’ half which made them vulnerable on the counter. One quick break by the home side saw McCormick struggle to deal with Devitt’s cross, leaving Hartley to whip the ball away from the rapidly advancing Mullin.
Sheridan sent on Deane Smalley, for Morgan, to maintain the pressure and seek out the clear-cut chances, volume of which had been the only thing lacking from a fine Argyle performance.
The Alessandra-Hartley combination nearly paid dividends twice from successive corners with Roche scrambling to save a far-post from the Argyle defender, who then could not quite get enough head on his team-mate’s subsequent flag-kick.
In a rare penalty-area incursion by the Shrimps, substitute Jack Sampson then attempted an ambitious overhead kick that McCormick read well to turn the ball wide of his left-hand post.
The yellow tide could not be turned for long, however, and one of those lovely runs down the right which are rapidly becoming a hallmark of Kelvin Mellor nearly unlocked the Shrimps when only a desperate lunge prevented the ball reaching Dominic Blizzard.
Morecambe were only playing on the counter by now and, unjustly and almost inevitably, one of their break-outs resulted in Devitt’s winner, as the midfielder reacted quickest to Ellison’s off-target shot to divert the ball home.
It was a sickener, to be sure. However, when all the dust is settled, Argyle will be able to reflect on a performance which promises much for the future.
Morecambe (4-3-3): 1 Barry Roche; 8 Andrew Wright (capt), 22 Andy Parrish, 6 Ryan Edwards, 15 Joe Widdowson; 13 Alan Goodall (4 Alex Kenyon 76), 17 Andrew Fleming, 3 Jamie Devitt; 27 Padraig Amond, 12 Paul Mullin (9 Jack Sampson 69), 11 Kevin Ellison. Substitutes (not used): 10 Ryan Williams, 21 Aaron McGowan, 23 Chris Doyle, 24 Tom McCready, 25 Andreas Arestidou (gk).
Booked: Goodall 37.
Argyle (4-3-3): 23 Luke McCormick; 2 Kelvin Mellor, 5 Curtis Nelson (capt), 29 Peter Hartley, 16 Carl McHugh; 11 Dominic Blizzard, 28 Anthony O'Connor, 4 Lee Cox (19 Nathan Thomas 86); 7 Lewis Alessandra, 9 Reuben Reid, 10 Marvin Morgan (22 Deane Smalley 64). Substitutes (not used): 1 James Bittner (gk), 3 Ben Purrington, 6 Ollie Norburn, 8 Jason Banton, 14 Tyler Harvey.
Booked: McHugh 36, Thomas 90.
Referee: Christopher Kavanagh.
Attendance: 1,865 (364 away).