Match report: Morecambe 0 Newport County AFC 1

Rhys Turner came close to scoring for Morecambe inside two minutes
Rhys Turner came close to scoring for Morecambe inside two minutes

Ryan Bird’s second-half penalty sentenced Morecambe to a third defeat in a week-and-a-half.

The striker settled proceedings on 67 minutes, sending Barry Roche the wrong way from the spot after Alex Whitmore was deemed to have fouled Alex Samuel.

Jim Bentley, celebrating his 300th game in charge of Morecambe, had made four changes from the side beaten by Yeovil Town last time out with Liam Wakefield, Andrew Fleming, Michael Rose and Rhys Turner back in the starting XI.

Peter Murphy, Lee Molyneux, Aaron Wildig and Michael Duckworth were the men to make way as the Shrimps also switched from a back three to four in defence.

Although the visitors needed the points in their bid to try and avoid relegation, while the Shrimps sought a return to winning ways, no-one could have foreseen just how open the first dozen minutes were to be.

A ridiculously end-to-end opening could have seen both sides find the net, while doing little for either staff’s collective heart rate.

With barely 90 seconds gone, Rose’s through ball saw Turner in behind the County defence, rounding keeper Joe Day and seeing his shot from a tight angle cleared by Scot Bennett.

Seconds later and Day had a more routine task in holding Antony Evans’ shot from 20 yards before keeping out a Paul Mullin effort.

However, it was Roche forced into the more eye-catching stops to deny Tom Owen-Evans and Samuel, the latter thwarted by yet more acrobatics from the Shrimps’ keeper.

Sid Nelson also volleyed over before the game finally began to settle down, though County again pressed before half-time.

Roche pushed out Sean Rigg’s 20-yard attempt before heading Dan Butler’s cross a yard off target after the Shrimps had lost possession.

For all County’s efforts at goal, it was Evans who came closest to opening the scoring just before half-time with a dipping 20-yarder which struck Day’s bar.

The second half started in the same frenetic fashion as the first with Dean Winnard clearing Bird’s shot off the line and Mullin’s curling effort tipped behind by Day at the other end.

Roche pushed out Rigg’s shot and Evans fired off target before the decisive moment came midway through the half.

Referee Peter Bankes deemed Whitmore’s clumsy challenge a foul and Bird sent his penalty down the middle as Roche dived out of the way.

Bentley rang the changes in an attempt to get something from the game with substitute Lee Molyneux twice having attempts blocked.

Rose was narrowly wide from 25 yards but it was County who came closest to scoring again with Jazzi Barnum-Bobb inches off target from 18 yards.

Despite seven minutes of added time, the Shrimps’ efforts came to nothing and they must now refocus ahead of Saturday’s trip to Plymouth Argyle.

Morecambe: Roche, Wakefield (Duckworth 54), Edwards, Whitmore, Winnard, Fleming, Rose, Turner, Evans (Murphy 78), Ellison (Molyneux 67), Mullin. Subs not used: Nizic, McGowan, Conlan, Wildig.

Newport County AFC: Day, Pipe, O’Brien (Barnum-Bobb 80), Nelson, Butler, Owen-Evans, Bennett, Labadie, Rigg (Demetriou 70), Bird, Samuel. Subs not used: Bittner, Jackson, Gordon, Williams, Randall.

Referee: Peter Bankes

Attendance: 1,080.