Morecambe have put an end to their miserable away form after beating Walsall 2-0 in an end-to-end war of attrition at Banks’s Stadium.
The Shrimps made the long journey from Lancashire having failed to win any of their previous seven away matches. Walsall, on the other hand, had found the net on the last ten occasions and won their last two home ties.
Walsall had the edge on the play for the majority of the first half, but could not find a way through the seemingly insurmountable Morecambe defence. The visitors were restricted to sparse chances on counter-attacks, but did look the more dangerous team when they had their feet on the ball.
At the midpoint of the first 45, Wes McDonald made an exquisite run in to the Morecambe box and shaped up to shoot, but was fouled before he could fire one off. He stepped up to take the spot-kick, but was shut out by a sensational, low save off Christopher Mafoumbi to keep the match in deadlock.
Josh Gordon patrolled the right flank well for Walsall and was dancing his quick feet around the Shrimps’ left-sided players. Gordon showed his creative prowess too, moving the ball round the pitch with pace and purpose. The 25-year-old was a real treat for the neutrals.
Gordon’s display was cut short by a half-time substitution after the hot-headed Englishman received a caution for his part in a handbag melee with Morecambe’s equally short-tempered Jordan Slew.
The visitors came out for the second period looking a totally different side from the one that walked off the pitch 15 minutes earlier. It was suddenly Walsall on the back foot as the Shrimps launched a devastating attacking phase, testing the defence several times.
Morecambe’s domination culminated in the visitors taking the lead in the 69th minute. An inch-perfect corner in front of his own fans from Jordan Cranston was met by a towering header off Kiwi centre-back Steven Old, which sent the ball in via the far upright.
The Saddlers valiantly continued their assault on the Morecambe back-line, and they wore the defence down to the point of collapse, allowing a gilt-edged opportunity for Dan Scarr in stoppage time, but the centre-back’s flick-on crashed against the inside of the post and Mafoumbi was able to gather the ball.
Moments later, the travelling side doubled their lead at the death through Carlos Mendes Gomes. The Spaniard broke free – not without a fortunate bounce – and found himself on the right-hand side of the penalty area. He executed a delightful heel-chop to put the ball onto his left foot and buried it into the far, bottom corner with aplomb, beyond the reach of Walsall’s Liam Roberts.
Shrimps boss Derek Adams said: “We needed a break and we got that tonight.
“Goals are important and the way we finish games is important. What I liked at the end was that a goalkeeper [Mafoumbi] was up for the celebration. Everyone was together. That’s important when you’re in a position like we’re in.”
The victory sees Morecambe move further from the relegation spot – still in 23rd in League Two, but four points clear of the drop.