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Accrington Stanley 1 Morecambe 1

Stanley boss Paul Cook admitted his side had a bit of luck in Saturday’s win over Northampton – but they had used it all up by Tuesday as they came up against a goalkeeper in inspired form.

Stanley boss Paul Cook admitted his side had a bit of luck in Saturday’s win over Northampton – but they had used it all up by Tuesday as they came up against a goalkeeper in inspired form.

Peter Murphy’s 14th-minute header got past Morecambe’s Barry Roche but the keeper wasn’t letting anything else beat him in the Lancashire derby.

Time and again his legs, arms – and even his chest – kept out the lively Bobby Grant and the dangerous Jamie Devitt as well as denying Charlie Barnett.

But he saved his best stop for late in the game, after Morecambe had levelled, as Stanley’s super sub Will Hatfield stooped to flick in a header which looked destined to be the Reds’ fifth late goal on the run.

Instead Roche somehow used his body to block the close-range effort and make sure no team got the bragging rights .

Both Reds boss Cook and his Morecambe counterpart Jim Bentley admitted that the draw did nothing for either side’s late charge for a play-off place but no one could deny that the game wasn’t exciting.

There were chances, fast breakaways, edge-of-the-seat moments and plenty for both sets of fans to get worked up about which created a good atmosphere at the Crown Ground.

But, had it not been for the heroics of Roche, Cook would have been talking about his second win on the bounce.

Instead he was left to reflect on his side’s first-half showing where they should have had more than just the one goal to show for it.

"The first half was as good as we have played since I came to the club," said Cook, in his eighth match in charge.

"We were outstanding and created chance after chance – it was some of the best football I have seen in this league.

"If you want to be critical we should have gone in more than one goal ahead but I enjoyed the half.

"It was how we want to play – we were exciting, we were creating chances, our front three of Grant, Devitt and Amond were outstanding, backed up by solid defending and some good midfield play.

"It was end-to-end and I am sure both sets of fans enjoyed it and it was a great atmosphere."

Stanley were looking to overtake Morecambe – one point ahead of them – in the table and started like they meant business.

Stanley defender Rob Kiernan headed over early on before Grant raced down the left and played in a fierce cross which, for once, evaded Roche and Murphy was there to head home his fourth of the season.

It was then the Roche show as he tipped over Devitt’s free kick; palmed away Grant’s effort and, on stroke of half-time, again denied Reds’ winger Grant.

It was breathtaking stuff from Stanley but, the fact they only had one goal to show for it, made them vulnerable.

Morecambe had shown signs of their threat in the first half with Lee Nicholls tipping over a Stewart Drummond header and Bentley changed his side around at half-time.

However it seemed like the Reds would stand firm until they gifted the Shrimps a goal with 20 minutes to go.

Nicholls ran out to collect a long punt on the edge of his area, collided with his own defender Toto Nsiala and it was left for Danny Carlton – a one-time Stanley target – to loop the ball into the net.

The game could then have gone either way, with Stanley dangerous on the break despite picking up injuries to Murphy, Amond and Devitt.

But Morecambe didn’t stop pressing and Jordan Barrow had a free header which was comfortable for Nicholls. But then came the defining moment when the ball left Hatfield’s head and Roche denied him.

"I really thought that was in," smiled Cook. "It was a great effort from Will and he has done well coming off the bench for us.

"The keeper has pulled off a superb save – he did that throughout the game.

"It is good though that we do keep going and we do have the will to dig in and keep working. I am just really pleased with the players – we are getting there."

Bentley, who has played and managed against Stanley but hasn’t seen a Morecambe win since 2005 – 11 games – admitted: "Some teams just have a hoodoo over you and Stanley are ours. You just get that. Some strikers have lucky sides they score against and it’s just one of those things.

"Accrington always seem to have the upper hand against us and we do want to get one over on them – maybe next year!"

Hopefully not, say Stanley.

 

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