Morecambe keep Boro at bay
Scott Laird’s spot kick saved in lacklustre encounter
Morecambe 0 Stevenage 0
STEVENAGE picked up a point on Saturday from a game that was as flat as the bay which stretches out for miles to the east of this Lancashire coastal town.
Scott Laird saw his 48th minute penalty saved by Barry Roche and Scott Brown later hit the post for the hosts, but this was a poor game lacking in any real quality in the final third.
Boro went into the game with high hopes after collecting seven points from their previous three away matches, but whereas last weekend’s 2-1 win over Burton was a rollercoaster this was more of a wet weekend in, well, Morecambe.
The visitors were unchanged from the win over Burton with new signing Ben May starting on the bench as the striker continues his recovery from a back injury.
Morecambe’s lone striker Paul Mullin looked a threat in the air in the opening stages, but on the ground he lacked the speed to trouble Jon Ashton and Mark Roberts and when Ashton began timing his headers better Mullin faded out of the game.
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At the other end Chris Holroyd was deployed up front on his own for the third game in succession but unlike the previous outings he struggled to shrug off his markers and as a result part of Boro’s attacking threat was neutralised.
In the middle third John Mousinho and Michael Bostwick blocked the way through for the hosts who were left with little option but to launch their attacks from out wide.
Boro’s full-backs, though, were up to the challenge with Laird in particular unwilling to allow his opponent past him.
Mark Duffy’s 10th minute overhead kick sailed wide in the first chance of the game, and with Holroyd doing a lot of chasing into the channels Boro were guilty of not getting enough bodies in the box when crosses came in from both flanks.
Morecambe’s Laurence Wilson carved out a chance on 28 minutes but his finish let him down.
The wide man got on the ball in the Boro half and flicked it past Boro’s Lawrie Wilson only to shoot wide after taking the ball past a second player on the edge of the Boro box.
Stacy Long and Bostwick both saw efforts at goal fly wide before Duffy played in Andrew Fleming on the edge of the box. The midfielder may have struck a softly struck placed shot, but he placed it the wrong side of the post.
Graham Westley brought on the more direct David Bridges for Long at half time, and it was his header at goal which set up Boro’s penalty just three minutes after the restart.
A move down the right and a cross into the box saw Roche get a hand on the ball which flicked up into the air and Bridges got his head on the ball only to see Garry Hunter handle it as it appeared to be going out for a goal kick.
Referee Fred Graham blew for a spot kick, and booked Hunter.
Laird, who last week scored from the spot, hit his penalty well towards the right side of the goal but Roche managed to get two hands on it to push the ball out for a corner.
The incident promised to spring the game into life, but despite the occasion effort at goal the game got bogged down.
The hosts have been susceptible to set pieces in recent games but Boro, whose principle set-up sees the players link arms in a circle before breaking out across the penalty area, were unable to breach the home defence.
Scott Brown hit a soft shot straight at Day midway through the half before the wide man had the Shrimps’ best chance of the match.
Cutting in from the left, the right-footer whipped a ball into the box for the head of Craig Stanley.
The Morecambe attacker failed to connect and the ball continued to fly through the air until it struck the lower half of Day’s goal. As it rebounded it bounced behind the onrushing Mullin who could only direct the ball to a Boro player who cleared.
Bostwick later had a header at the far post which hit the back of a defender before nestling in the side netting before a tightly marked Mullin shot over from eight yards for the hosts.
Stevenage gave a debut to May who saw a low effort saved by Roche in injury time but the game ended as it had begun – with zeros next to both team names.
Morecambe (4-4-1-1): Roche 7, Stanley 6, Hunter 7, McCready 6, Drummond 6, Fleming 6 (Jevons, 75), Duffy 7, Wilson 6, Mullin 6, Parrish 6, Brown 7 (Rundle, 85). Subs: Bentley, Shuker, Spencer, Capaldi, Walker.
Boro (4-2-3-1): Day 7, Henry 6, Laird 7, Ashton 7, Roberts 7, Winn 6 (Charles, 74), Wilson 6, Mousinho 6, Bostwick 6, Long 6 (Bridges 6, 46 (May, 80)), Holroyd 6. Subs: Bayes, Maamria, Griffin, Odubade.
Referee: F Graham.