Well over 300 miles separate Morecambe’s Globe Arena from Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park, but for the 358 members of the Green Army that made the long journey up North on Saturday it was worth every mile.
Carl Fletcher opted to start the team in a 4-4-2 formation for this game, something which shocked many people and gave reason to be optimistic. Warren Feeney replaced Matt Lecointe from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers to accompany Guy Madjo up front. Andres Gurrieri came in on the left wing for the injured Onismor Bhasera and Ross Jenkins, who only signed 24 hours prior to kick-off, replaced Luke Young in the centre of midfield.
After travelling such a distance the last thing the Argyle fans wanted to see was an early setback. With the game barely three minutes young veteran defender Darren Purse got what he was trying all wrong and allowed Jack Redshaw to steal the ball from him and guide it past a hapless Jake Cole.
The Shrimps, who have only won 12 times at the Globe Arena since moving there in 2010 continued to push forward but Argyle managed to gain their composure and control their hosts. At the other end Conor Hourihane saw his effort cleared off the line before Morecambe keeper Roche had to be alert to keep out Alex MacDonald’s impressive curling free-kick.
Despite being a goal down it was the Pilgrims playing the better football, but as recent performances have shown us, dominating the game does not equal victory. Argyle’s neat passing game kept the Morecambe defence on its toes but the Pilgrims rarely looked like opening up the resolute sea of red.
The second half started brightly for Argyle. Barry Roche somehow managed to keep out a fine Robbie Williams free-kick before Darren Purse saw his makeshift volley cleared off the line.
Argyle’s electric start to the second half was to betray them however, as Morecambe hit back on the counter attack through Richard Brodie who turned well with the ball and entered the penalty area. The combination of Gurrieri and Durrell Berry was enough to take Brodie down and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Brodie proceeded to get up, dust himself down and then rifle the ball home from the spot.
To say that being two down at a team with a dreadful home record about as far away from home as possible is depressing is an understatement, so I forgive the couple of Argyle fans that left early in a attempt to get back on home soil before midnight.
They missed a cracking 20 minutes though.
In what proved a decisive substitution, Fletcher replaced an ineffectual Gurrieri with Paris Cowan-Hall. The ex-Woking striker livened up Argyle’s attack and within minutes of coming on he had supplied the pass for on-loan debutant Ross Jenkins to emphatically volley home from 25-yards out. It was a great goal and deserved much more than being a consolation strike.
Argyle’s tails rose as Morecambe’s self-belief seemed to sink; the mental implications of such a woeful home record must have played with the hosts minds as the Pilgrims drove forward. With eight minutes to go Cowan-Hall saw his cross handled in the box by a Morecambe player and the referee pointed to the spot for the second time in the game. Warren Feeney stepped up and coolly converted the penalty sending the travelling Argyle fans into delirium.
Six minutes later it got even better.
Paris Cowan-Hall was again involved as he found a Robbie Williams pass and made his way into the box, drawing the challenge from the Morecambe defender. Down he went and again the referee pointed to the spot. Warren Feeney again stepped up, and the result of the spot kick was the same. In a crazy final 20 minutes Argyle had somehow managed to overturn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 win.
350 miles? It was worth it.
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