City beaten on the opening day
So on a hot and sticky afternoon at The Park, City maintained their winless start to the season in convincing fashion with a jittery and panicky 3-0 reverse at the hands of a strong and hard working Morcambe side in front of 3792 disbelieving spectators, reports Ant Moxey.
City lined up: Krysiak; Woodman, Baldwin, Coles, Amankwaah; Davies, Bennett, Oakley, Sercombe; Gow, Cureton.
A pretty strong line up for the opening day of the season, and after a pretty even opening set of exchanges it was City who had the first chance when Amankwaah went striding down virtually the entire length of the right touchline before cutting the ball back to Sercombe on the edge of the box. Unfortunately, and what would turn out to be the norm for the afternoon, Sercombe's somewhat underhit shot was straight at the keeper.
But, as with so often last season, it was yet another defensive howler that gave Morecambe the lead. In the 13th minute, not content with trying and failing to beat charging midfielder Isak Reid twice, home debutant Craig Woodman decided the best way to bypass him was to play the ball square across goal right along the paint of the 18 yard line. Straight to Andrew Fleming in fact, who couldn't believe his luck as he confidently swept the ball low past Krysiak to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
City's response was immediate with the ball being worked down the right to Gow who whipped in a cross to Cureton charging in at the near post, however his cheeky flick was deflected for a corner that came to nothing. Next it was the surging Amankwaah's turn down the right this time floating a cross to Davies at the far post. He nodded back across goal, but a defender got there first and headed behind for another corner.
In the 23rd minute Morecambe doubled their lead, and once again it was handed to them on a plate by the hapless City defence. As they stood motionless, arms aloft claiming an offside that never came, a Morecambe forward was left the freedom of the Park to race through on goal. Krysiak came charging out of his area to block, but lumped his clearance straight to Fleming who thought he'd won the lottery with his second gift of the game. He needed no second invitation to chip the ball back whence it came as Krysiak could only stand and watch as the ball sailed over his head and into the empty net to make it 2-0.
In the 31st minute City's misery was complete with the third hash of the game giving Morecambe their third goal. A simple ball in from the left bisected the two City centre halves perfectly leaving Reid in a foot race with Krysiak to see who could get to the ball first. Reid won and as Krysiak tried to make himself big Reid doinked the ball past Krysiak from just inside the box to make it 3-0 to Morecambe and three of the easiest points they'll ever earn on their travels.
City almost pulled one back before the break, but Gow's 30 yard free kick was tipped over from just beneath the angle of post and bar for a corner.
The second half began with Bauza replacing Bennett to give City a more attacking formation. In the 6th minute it looked to be working with the excellent Amankwaah storming into the box before playing the ball square to the lurking Cureton. Unfortunately a defender was wise to the danger and nicked it off his toe before Cureton had the chance to shoot. Six minutes on and the ball was eventually worked to Gow down the right where he played it inside to the advancing Amankwaah. He in turn laid the ball off for Davies but he dragged his 20 yard daisycutter wide of the far post.
City finally got the ball in the net on the quarter hour when Gow set off on a mazy run through the heart of the Morecambe midfield before firing across the keeper into the far corner, but the ref ruled it out having already blown for a foul on Gow two seconds earlier. Gow put the resulting free kick onto the roof of the net before manager Tisdale made his last roll of the dice in the 20th minute with the introductions of Frear and O'Flynn for Woodman and Cureton as City reverted to three at the back in an even more attacking formation than before.
Five minutes later Gow hit a 20 yard free kick straight at the keeper then on the half hour Amankwaah fed Davies whose curling cross was met by O'Flynn who could only glance a header at the keeper from close range.
The move was repeated minutes later with Bauza the recipient, but the result was the same with a header straight to the keeper.
The final minutes of the game bizarrely saw Morecambe have their first proper chances of the game, as in chances that they created themselves rather than chances we handed them, when Jack Redshaw twice went close, first with a flashing drive across goal that narrowly beat the far post, then second with a hurried drive that sailed over the bar after cutting in from the left.
So were there any bright spots to a dismal opening to the season? Yes there was one, and that was Kevin Amankwaah - head, shoulders, knees and ankles above any other City player on the pitch with a strong defensive display his colleagues would do well to try and emulate and a desire to get up the pitch as often as possible with, unusually for a City full back, a decent cross coming at the end of it.
As for the rest of the defence, the less said the better. They couldn't have made it easier for Morecambe if they tried and they will have to cut out the ridiculous schoolboy errors that so blighted last season if we're not suffer a similar fate this season. In midfield we were easily outmuscled by a powerful opposition not content to sit back and let us play, and upfront such was the service afforded to Cureton he must have been glad to have been replaced rather than having to chase hoofing high balls from the defence all afternoon.
But at least there's an immediate chance to put today's game behind us and move on. Games come thick and fast at the start of the season so visits to Aldershot and Accrington in quick succession will give the team the perfect opportunity to get back to where we want to be before Burton visit the Park at the beginning of next month. So see you all in a couple of weeks when hopefully the work that needs to be done will have been done and we can begin to enjoy the sort of football we know we're more than capable of playing.