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League Two

Report: Morecambe make history at Wembley

31 May 2021

Morecambe made history by reaching Sky Bet League One for the first time in their history with a 1-0 extra-time victory over Newport County in Monday's League Two Play-Off Final at Wembley.

Following 107 goalless and tense minutes of football in hot conditions, during which both sides had cancelled each other out, Carlos Mendes Gomes' penalty in the second period of extra-time ultimately proved decisive, sparking scenes of fantastic celebration in the East End of the National Stadium. 

After 14 consecutive seasons in League Two since 2007/08, the win marked a new chapter in Morecambe's history, capping off the club's centenary season in perfect fashion.

Ahead of the game, Morecambe manager Derek Adams named an unchanged side from the one which secured a place in the Final in their Semi-Final second leg against Tranmere Rovers. Meanwhile, Shrimps legend and current Newport striker Kevin Ellison was named among the Exiles substitutes, having become the oldest scorer in Play-Offs history during the Semi-Finals. 

In front of over 9,000 noisy supporters and under the famous arch at a sun-soaked Wembley, it was Adams' men who registered the first attempt with two minutes on the clock, as Mendes Gomes found space from a set-piece but couldn't direct his effort on target.

They continued to come forward early on, with Cole Stockton taking up a good position inside the Newport area before seeing his low cross blocked, and captain Sam Lavelle's header caught by goalkeeper Tom King. At the other end, Shrimps shot-stopper Kyle Letheren couldn't do the same, racing off his line in an attempt to claim a long throw into the box, only for Scot Bennett to beat him to it, head the ball wide and get a clattering in the process.

Both sets of fans sensed an opportunity for their respective sides, and within seconds of Mendes Gomes' inviting low cross narrowly evading those in the area, Newport countered and won a corner, from which their claims for a penalty were waved away as Mickey Demetriou took a tumble. 

Indeed, Newport's set-pieces looked their best route to a goal, and Josh Sheehan forced Letheren into action following another long throw-in deep inside the Morecambe half. Cue a much-needed drinks break, as the players toiled in the Wembley heat.

The Exiles' next opening owed much to the awareness of Lewis Collins, whose clever backheel found Padraig Amond, and the striker's effort deflected behind for a corner. Then, a touching moment as the game entered its 34th minute, with fans of both sides standing and applauding as the Morecambe bench held aloft a shirt in memory of former Shrimps player Christian Mbulu, who died last May. 

Morecambe went in search of a breakthrough once more as the game approached half-time, with a crunching tackle from Ryan Cooney setting them on the attack, before Aaron Wildig fired well over the bar. At the other end, Aaron Lewis' volley also found the stands. Four minutes before the break, the Shrimps created the best opportunity of the half as Mendes Gomes slipped in Liam Gibson, whose effort was hacked away as it bounced towards goal. 

Newport so nearly took the lead during three added minutes at the end of the 45, as Bennett's 20-yard strike took a wicked deflection before hitting the side-netting, with many in the West End of Wembley celebrating what they thought was a goal.

The game remained finely poised going into the interval...

Half-time: Morecambe 0-0 Newport County

Newport came out of the traps quickly after the break, and almost went ahead on 48 minutes as Collins' deflected effort stung the palms of Letheren in the Morecambe goal. Thereafter though, chances were few and far between, with one goal looking increasingly likely to be enough to give either side victory.

With half an hour to go, a low effort from Sheehan brought a comfortable save out of Letheren. The Morecambe half was now entirely shaded from the sun, giving Newport all the more reason to get forward, and they soon made a double change, introducing Ryan Taylor and Anthony Hartigan from the bench.

But it would be Morecambe that produced the next chance following some pinball in the Newport area, as the ball eventually came out to Cooney, whose long-range drive was pushed away by King. Time for another drinks break.

With 15 minutes remaining at the National Stadium, the Shrimps brought Brad Lyons into the game in place of Liam McAlinden, while another of Newport's Semi-Final heroes, Nicky Maynard, was also introduced for the Exiles for the closing stages.

Newport continued to have more of the ball and Liam Shephard almost found the bottom corner with a long-range effort, but Letheren was there to turn it around the post. At the other end, Morecambe won a corner, but Lavelle could only head it over the bar. Step up, 42-year-old Ellison - would the man who dominated the build-up be able to make headlines from the bench again?

Full-time: Morecambe 0-0 Newport County

And so to extra-time, where it was Morecambe who came forward first, with Stockton finding space inside the box but heading wide on 92 minutes. It was a typically tense 15-minute period which passed with few incidents, aside from a booking for Newport captain Joss Labadie - for bringing down Yann Songo'o inside the Shrimps half - who later spurned easily the best opportunity of the match up until that point by putting the ball over the top from close range.

Half-time in extra-time: Morecambe 0-0 Newport County

Just seconds after the restart, Morecambe's big chance finally arrived, and they had no hesitation in taking it. Referee Bobby Madley awarded the Shrimps a penalty for a foul on substitute O'Sullivan and, in the patch of sun that remained on the Wembley pitch, Mendes Gomes kept his cool to slot the spot-kick home. 

Despite Newport's best efforts, the goal would be enough for the Shrimps, who held on to claim the biggest win in their 101-year history.

Full-time in extra-time: Morecambe 1-0 Newport County

 

Morecambe: Letheren, Knight-Percival, Lavelle (C), Diagouraga, Stockton, Wildig (O'Sullivan 91'), Mendes Gomes (Kenyon 114'), McAlinden (Lyons 75'), Cooney, Gibson (Mellor 105'), Songo'o.

Unused subs: Davis, Halstead, Kenyon, Pringle.

Scorers: Mendes Gomes (107')

 

Newport County: King, Haynes (Farquharson 111'), Labadie (C), Dolan (Hartigan 62'), Amond (Maynard 79'), Sheehan, Lewis (Taylor 62'), Bennett, Collins (Ellison 86'), Demetriou, Shephard.

Unused subs: Townsend, Ledley.

 

Attendance: 9,083

Man of the Match: Songo'o


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