Lancashire FA Marsden Trophy Final - First Leg
STANLEY were left all at sea as Morecambe supersub Danny Carlton reeled in the only goal in the first leg of the Lancashire FA Marsden Trophy final on Tuesday.
Carlton, who has notched up 15 goals for the Shrimps this season, chipped Reds keeper Jon Kennedy in the 85th minute to set up a difficult away tie on Tuesday.
After the match, the Reds boss John Coleman said: "I think that was probably our worst performance of the season. The other two games we played against Morecambe I thought we were far and away the better team, so I like to think they maybe shaded it tonight on the balance of chances. They played a good tactical game. But we are still in the tie and I know the lads won't be thinking there was a lack of effort. If we get beat we get beat but we'll go down fighting."
The teams both had their fair share of chances with Stanley having the ball cleared off the line in the 27th minute. Strikers Paul Mullin and Lutel James, who have notched up 35 goals between them in the league so far this season, proved a handful for the Shrimps defence but could not make it count.
Morecambe came back and Paul Osborne fired in a corner but Wayne Curtis's shot went wide.
The half-time entertainment was provided by the Accrington Pipe Band but it was Stanley who showed they had plenty of puff as they came out firing on all cylinders. A series of corners saw Paul Mullin flick the ball just over the bar again on 53 minutes and Paul Cook swung in a curling free kick for Jonathan Smith to head straight at the keeper.
Morcambe's Garry Thomson should have scored on 70 minutes but Jerome Fitzgerald managed to slide in with a challenge and block his shot. Then Kieran Walmsley hit a free kick from 25 yards out which went inches above Jon Kennedy's crossbar.
David McKearney, who picked up the game's only yellow card, came off for Danny Carlton who wasted no time making an impression. After just four minutes on the pitch he got round Smith and looped the ball over the head of Kennedy as he came running off his line. Carlton had another chance to make it two but Kennedy managed to get a hand to the ball and push it out for a corner.
Describing the goal as "silly", Coleman added: "They've got a lot of pace up front but it's really unfortunate because they haven't opened us up. It's just been a big boot. I'm sure Morecambe don't play like that so for them it is a big bonus."
"It was a silly goal. Jon Smith feels he couldn't have got a touch on it but in hindsight he probably could have."
"I am a bit disappointed there was a lack of communication between him and the keeper. The keeper could have been a bit more forceful but he feels he did the right thing. When you look at it, maybe the lad had more control than I thought, he's definately put it inside the box."
Coleman felt the Shrimps will be delighted with the one-goal lead as he expected them to settle for a draw at home. He added: "I was disappointed with the standard of play. Morecambe have set their stall out early and have gone for a draw. They were time-wasting with 15 minutes gone. They improved in the second half to be fair to them and they caused us some problems and got a good goal at the end of it. They got a mistake by us and we've wasted one or two of our half chances."
Stanley will be out to make amends on Tuesday at Christie Park. Coleman said: "If we go on current form we'll get something at their place because we absolutely battered them at their place at Christmas. We need to improve going forward and we are a lot better than we showed going forward tonight. Hopefully we will click into gear next week. They have got a decision to make on whether to go for more goals or sit back and defend that lead."
Team: Kennedy, Cavanagh, Fitzgerald, Williams, Smith, Procter, Calcutt, Cook, James, Mullin, Brannan. Subs used: Flitcroft, Durnin, Thomson, Carlton, Garnett.