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Match report: York City 1, Morecambe 4
VISITING supporters at Bootham Crescent on Saturday celebrated their team’s 4-1 win with renditions of an old Morecambe and Wise favourite.
York City, meanwhile, seemingly paid their own tribute to the 1970s comedy heavyweights with a slapstick performance that even Eric and Ernie would have struggled to match.
With the score at 1-1, Michael Ingham’s complete miskick gifted Morecambe winger Kevin Ellison the opportunity to fire his team back in front on 74 minutes.
More tragicomic defending then saw substitute Jack Redshaw put the final outcome beyond doubt with two late goals.
Jason Walker had earlier converted from the penalty spot to cancel out Lewis Alessandra’s 23rd-minute opening goal but the Minstermen once more struggled to threaten in the final third of the pitch.
With Paddy McLaughlin having scored direct from a corner seven days earlier at Gillingham, Gary Mills’ team have now failed to net in open play for three games.
Furthermore, last season’s 20-goal top scorer, Matty Blair, has managed to hit the target just once in his last 19 outings, while fellow forward Alex Rodman has only made the scoresheet once since his arrival from Aldershot in November.
Crocked pair Ashley Chambers and Michael Coulson are clearly being missed, but the Minstermen’s strikers should not carry the can alone for the team’s recent travails in front of goal.
There is little wrong with the quality and variety of Walker’s finishing – no two penalties, for example, ever seem to be taken in the same way by the former Luton forward.
But it is difficult to recall how many clear-cut chances the £60,000 striker has been presented with this term.
Too often, he is feeding off scraps and Mills’ 4-3-3 formation demands better service from the full-back positions and, more specifically, the middle of the park for it to function successfully and to get the best out of Walker.
With the exception of Scott Kerr, City’s midfielders did not seek or keep possession sufficiently well against the Shrimps, leaving Walker isolated or contesting hopeful balls forward.
Shifting Kerr closer to Walker and restoring Dan Parslow to an anchoring midfield role must now be a serious consideration ahead of this weekend’s trip to Wycombe.
With those two operating together, City would certainly carry a more imposing presence in that area of the pitch than they did on Saturday.
Equally, David McGurk will be in strong contention for a recall at centre-back.
On-loan Blackburn teenager Jack O’Connell has obvious potential but, at 18, only an exceptional talent would possess the positional sense, concentration levels and ability to read a game that are all a given with McGurk.
The England under-19 international certainly looked a little exposed when captain Chris Smith was sent forward as an emergency striker for the last ten minutes and was chasing shadows as the visitors scored their last two goals.
Earlier, Blair had curled a promising third-minute chance well off target for the Minstermen and the same player headed wide from debutant Curtis Obeng’s right-wing cross soon afterwards.
Kerr also dragged a 25-yard attempt off target before Ellison seized on a favourable ricochet to bear down on Ingham’s goal.
The City ’keeper was alert to the danger, however, racing off his line to smother at the 33-year-old veteran’s feet.
Ellison turned provider three minutes later, though, for the game’s opening goal, outjumping Smith to nod down Stewart Drummond’s right-wing cross with Alessandra sweeping a low shot past Ingham from eight yards.
The hosts struck back on 28 minutes after Chris McCready was adjudged to have wrestled Smith to the floor in the six-yard box following McLaughlin’s corner.
Walker blasted the resulting spot kick straight down the middle and into the roof of Barry Roche’s net.
After Blair headed over from an Obeng cross, Shrimps centre-back Nick Fenton also missed the target after rising unchallenged to meet Ryan Williams’ flag kick.
In the second half, Will Haining’s swerving long-range drive was kept out by Ingham while McLaughlin fired straight at Roche from 15 yards after being picked out by Blair.
On the hour mark, Ellison crashed a far-post chance in off the crossbar after Alessandra’s miscued shot but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Roche’s weak punch from a McLaughlin corner then saw the ball fall at Parslow’s feet but his shot was cleared off the line by Ellison.
After McLaughlin drilled an edge-of-the-box effort wide, Ellison went on to regain the lead for the visitors.
Lifting the ball over O’Connell 40 yards from goal, Ellison rolled the ball into an empty net after Ingham had rushed out of his penalty area to meet him only to kick out at fresh air.
As the clock ticked down, makeshift frontman Smith saw a goalbound shot blocked, while Blair missed the target with another header from an Obeng cross.
It was left to Redshaw, though, to provide the game with a final flourish.
On 87 minutes, Chris Holroyd ran at a back-pedalling O’Connell before finding the overlapping Ellison with a clever reverse pass.
When Ingham then dived to his left to keep out Ellison’s low shot, former Manchester City forward Redshaw kept his composure to cut inside substitute Jamal Fyfield and find the net.
Moments later, Redshaw tiptoed his way into the City penalty box before toe-poking high into the sidenetting but added his second goal of the afternoon in the third minute of stoppage time.
Ellison’s flatly-struck pass from inside his own half somehow dissected City defenders Parslow and O’Connell, who allowed Redshaw to sprint clear on goal.
Another confident finish sealed a miserable afternoon for the hosts and, whilst a chorus of Bring Me Sunshine broke out in the away end, certain sections of the City support chose to boo their team at the final whistle.
York City 1 (Walker pen 28), Morecambe 4 (Alessandra 23; Ellison 74; Redshaw 87, 90+3)
Michael Ingham 5
Uncharacteristic blunder proved the game’s turning point in the second half.
Curtis Obeng 6
Troubled by Ellison at times, but got forward to deliver several crosses for Blair.
Chris Smith 6
Beaten in the air by Ellison for first goal before being missed at the back late on.
Jack O’Connell 5
Started well only to lose his way a little as pressure intensified.
Dan Parslow 6
Looked comfortable enough at left-back again, but might have scored.
Michael Potts 5
Appears to have hit a bit of a wall after long run of first-team starts.
Scott Kerr 8
Calm and collected in possession and never wasted a pass.
Paddy McLaughlin 5
Drifted in and out of the match and indecisive at times.
Matty Blair 5
Whatever his form, never hides, although can’t buy a goal at the moment.
Jason Walker 6
Given another buffeting, but showed his quality from the penalty spot.
Alex Rodman 5
Made a few positive bursts, but must take better advantage of run in team.
Subs: David McDaid 5 (for Potts, 67) – quiet, Jamal Fyfield (for Rodman, 81), John McReady (for McLaughlin, 81). Not used: Reed, Musselwhite, McGurk, Challinor.
Barry Roche, Andy Parrish, Will Haining, Nick Fenton, Chris McCready, Lewis Alessandra (Jack Redshaw, 70), Stewart Drummond, Gary McDonald, Ryan Williams, Kevin Ellison, Chris Holroyd (Jordan Burrow, 90).
Subs not used: Izak Reid, Joe Mwasile, Aaron McGowan, Chris Doyle, Andreas Arestidou.
Star man: Ellison – scored one goal and set up the other three.
Referee: Richard Clark (Amble).
Rating: 6/10 – made a couple of puzzling decisions.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 3,138 (300 away fans).
Shots on target: City 4, Morecambe 8.
Shots off target: City 6, Morecambe 3.
Corners: City 4, Morecambe 2.
Fouls conceded: City 7, Morecambe 6.
Offsides: City 1, Morecambe 4.