I entered the Gulls nest - home fans bar, with a very pessimistic approach on the game ahead. I mean, I'm not much of an optimist and always seem to have a negative view. I mean, the Shrimps are flying high at the top of the table compared to our iffy recent starts. As I met up with Olie, we discussed the match ahead and both agreed that we would lose 7-0 - dramatic I know!
As I walked across to the popside and met the rest of the group, it was quite clear that today's attendance would be disappointing. Not saying that our attendances are immaculate but for some reason it just looked increasingly low. After all, there were only 76 Shrimp fans which made the long trip down to Plainmoor so well done to them! I did my weekly routine and got a programme and 50/50 ticket - don't really know why because I'm always a thousand numbers out, but maybe one day ey!
Flicking through the programme I came across an interesting article on ex Gull Matt Hockley. He seemed to have just disappeared after leaving us. However, I was intrigued to see that he is now working with children who have autism and learning difficulties as well as playing part time for Bideford which I thought was interesting.
It was soon approaching 3pm and kick off was just around the corner. Our lineup for todays match was; Olejnik, Oastler, Saah, Robertson, Nicholson, Mansell, Lathrope, O'Kane, Morris, Atieno, Bodin. Subs: Stevens, Mcphee, Ellis, Rice, Macklin.
Rene Howe was suspended for this week after his sending off against Shrewsbury last weekend which ment that Atieno would step up to the mark. Mcphee was also dropped which welcomed the return of Morris on the left wing.
Both teams had came out all fired up and prepared. Within the first five minutes, Torquay's Robertson had been denied a penalty as he recieved a harsh alleged push into the box. Morecambe sure looked up for this and weren't going to waste any possible chances as that showed when Danny Charlton speculated a low shot on goal. The Gulls had certainly stepped up thir game this week and without a doubt where the better side within the first opening 20 minutes.
We soon hit the 25th minute mark and Billy Bodin shot a cracking ball from distance to the right post which forced their keeper quite a smart save. Bodin is our latest signing on loan from Swindon and without a doubt is definitely making an impact. He may not be a persistent striker but it's the work he puts in and the chances which he sets up which fascinates me.
Half time was upon us and the score line was all even. To be perfectly honest, Morecambe are not what I had expected, both sides were fairly similar. It would be interesting to see what the final outcome would be. They announced the 50/50 ticket number at half time and once again there was no joy in me winning. However, there was the new appearance of our mascot. He had now had a makeover and was brand new. Of course the chant 'We want old Gilbert back' soon arised.
The second half started and the Shrimps seemed to have lost their spark and looked more layed back. It had only just taken a toll for 5 minutes and already the Shrimps Carlton had been taken off injured and replaced by Reid after a harsh challenge from O'Kane. The atmosphere from our side was incredible. Non-stop chanting all game. However the 'Martin Lings yellow army' chant did get a little tedious after constantly being sung for 15 minutes. Our attempts on goal staggered up to 10 with only 2 of them at least being on target. Surely a goal for the Gulls was due at any point. Nicholson laid in a brilliant deep cross for Bodin to be on the end who instantly volleyed it across the box to forward Atieno who remarkably smashed it into row Z of the family stand.
Normally goalkeepers make a big impact on a game and I've seen some outstanding ones within my time at Plainmoor but Morecambe's didn't seem to impress. After a terrible mistake from the Shrimps keeper, it enabled Bodin to take another opportunity on goal, however with a quick flick to Mansell, the skipper was able to create a spectacular finish inside the far post which put the Gulls in the lead 1-0. There was no question about it that either side deserved to be in the lead but the Gulls goal was rightly deserved pushing Mansells goal total of the season to 5!
Having that goal really did spark both sets of players and the crowd. The Shrimps midfielder Ellison had kept Torquay;s defense on their toes all game. His shots on goal were only fractions away and narrowly missed. With only 15 minutes remaining, Torquay really were giving it their all to make sure they kept this lead as the three points would be very handy right now. Not for long, as Ling decided we needed fresh legs and new faces on the pitch, so he replaced Morris with Stevens and Atieno for Mcphee. Danny Stevens for me is one of those players which only suits certain game situations, and I feel that today was definitely is style of play.
The fresh legs on the pitch certainly made an instant impact as Stevens set-up McPhee after a flick from O'Kane, but the final touch was saved by Roche. Torquay had another opportunity to extend the lead when a rebound hit back to Mcphee which he was then lucky to beat Roche. However, Morecambe were prepared and had a couple of their men placed on the line to clear the shot. It was from this moment on that Morecambe were given the advantage and once again it was the face of Ellison on the ball which he took a tremendous run up through the pitch and around our defense and past Olejnik to then immediately equalise 1-1. It was very poor defending on our behalf.
Torquay seemed to have switched off at this point and you could tell that they would just be happy with a draw against a side like Morecambe. Ellison was once again given the chance on goal but thankfully, his weaker foot came in handy for us as the ball was pelted over the bar and into the stands. Bodin was the first to attempt to get the Gulls back into a winning position. A ball was played to Mcphee but he headed it straight to the keepers hands. A glorious chance not taken. There was no doubt about it that both sets of fans were getting agitated and just wanted that final goal! Mansell set up a perfect cross to Bodin who then headed the ball to Mcphee who was waiting at the far post, but somehow Morecambe's goalkeeper made a brilliant stretch to rescue the ball.
As the board for injury time showed, there was going to be an extra 5 minutes! That gave Torquay to have couple chances to have a final crack on target and seal these three points rather than one. Torquay were soon awarded a free kick and brought every player (other than Olejnik) forward. Nicholson took it but the cross was cleared and that was probably the last chance of the game for the Gulls.
The final whistle was blown and if anything, I think it is fair to say that we gave away three points. Although, neither teams played to the best of their ability, but if anyone deserved the three points today it was us.
Thank you reading. This is my first football blog so I hope that you have enjoyed it! :)