Bright start ends gloomily as Plymouth Argyle suffer a late slip-up
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE had the odds in their favour but still ended up slipping to defeat on a bright and breezy Saturday afternoon by the Lancashire seaside.
The Pilgrims arrived at the Globe Arena with back-to-back League Two wins against Cheltenham Town and Rochdale and confidence among the players was high.
Manager John Sheridan shared those expectations, especially as Morecambe had only a short time to prepare for the fixture.
The Shrimps had put up a brave battle in a Capital One Cup tie at home to Newcastle United last Wednesday before eventually losing 2-0.
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Sheridan opted for the same starting line-up, and substitutes, as for the 1-0 victory over Rochdale seven days earlier.
Morecambe boss Jim Bentley, however, utilised his squad as he made four changes to his team after the gruelling game against Newcastle.
One of those was enforced, with key playmaker Ryan Williams ruled out by a thigh injury.
History was also on Argyle's side. They had not lost any of the four previous meetings in the Football League between the clubs, and won two of them. Their last visit to the Globe Arena had ended in a thrilling 3-2 triumph in September 2012.
The odds seemed even more firmly in favour of the Pilgrims on Saturday when they took the lead in the 27th minute.
Reuben Reid converted a penalty after his strike partner Marvin Morgan was hauled over by Morecambe centre-back Mark Hughes.
All seemed to be going according to plan for the Devon team, only for a costly lapse of concentration to allow Morecambe an almost immediate equaliser.
Ellison punished some sloppy defensive play as he fired a shot past goalkeeper Luke McCormick.
It got hard going for Argyle after that, especially in the second half as they played into a strong onshore breeze off the North Sea.
The conditions were no excuse, though, for their inability to play with any method or fluency.
Instead, they resorted to hit-and-hope tactics far too often, nullifying the threat of Morgan and Reid, who had regularly troubled Morecambe before the break.
What had been a strength for Argyle, and looked likely to lead to more goals, became totally ineffective.
Morecambe, despite their midweek labours against Newcastle, finished the game the stronger side and were rewarded for that in the 83rd minute.
Striker Padraig Amond scored with a fine finish from 18 yards to earn the win for the Shrimps.
For Argyle, there was bitter disappointment at the way they conceded the equaliser, the final result and their lacklustre performance in the second half.
Morecambe had applied some early pressure as they forced a series of corners which tested the punching ability of McCormick.
He stood up to the test, however, while determined defending from Neal Trotman and Durrell Berry saw goalbound shots from Ellison blocked.
Argyle, as preached by Sheridan, tried to play as high up the pitch as possible.
Morgan and Reid made it an uncomfortable time for Morecambe's two centre-backs, Hughes and Chris McCready.
There was evidence of that for all to see as the half-hour mark approached.
Reid flicked the ball on and Morgan raced into the penalty area with Hughes in close company. There was pushing and shoving by both players but finally Hughes wrestled down Morgan.
Referee Tony Harrington awarded a penalty and Reid, as he had done in the win against Rochdale, coolly tucked away the spot-kick.
Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche went to his left as the ball flew past him to his right.
Argyle's celebrations did not last long, though, as they conceded an equaliser within seconds of the restart.
Trotman tried to clear the ball with a low stooping header after it had bounced towards him off former Morecambe wide man Lewis Alessandra. However, the ball hit Ellison and he took it in his stride as he burst into the penalty area, brushing aside a challenge from midfielder Dominic Blizzard.
Ellison, a proven goalscorer at League Two level, then dispatched his shot past McCormick.
There was a setback for Morecambe shortly before half-time when Hughes fell heavily as he tussled for possession with Morgan and suffered a broken collarbone.
There was a push from Morgan and it was a foul, but no more than that.
McCready was unfortunate to suffer such a serious injury and Andrew Wright was sent on as his replacement.
He played at right-back, with Andy Parrish moving into the centre of defence.
As unfortunate as the injury to McCready was, Argyle would have wanted to try to exploit the reshuffle in the Morecambe defence in the second half, but that did not happen.
The visitors had to make a change of their own in the 49th minute.
Left-back Durrell Berry was taken off because of a knee injury and that meant a first appearance of the season for Maxime Blanchard.
Argyle simply could not get into their stride after the interval, much to the players' frustration.
Rommy Boco, Blanchard and Conor Hourihane were all booked for fouls in a matter of only 11 minutes.
Play became very scrappy but Morecambe had most of the possession and they used the wind at their backs to keep the Pilgrims inside their own territory for long spells.
McCormick strikes the ball very cleanly but his clearances out of hand struggled to get beyond the halfway line.
Whenever possible, he dropped the ball on the ground to get a lower trajectory on his clearances and avoid the worst of the wind.
The decisive moment in the match came in the 83rd minute as Amond scored his first goal for Morecambe.
A pass from midfielder Andrew Fleming took a deflection off Blizzard and fell perfectly for Amond.
The summer signing from Accrington Stanley needed no second invitation as he crashed the ball into the net from 18 yards.