Morecambe 2 Bradford City 0: Shrimps fall just short of automatic promotion
Morecambe will have to settle for a play-off place despite ending the season with another three points at the Mazuma Stadium.
Goals from Liam McAlinden and Cole Stockton were enough to give the Shrimps victory on the final day of the regular campaign.
However, wins for Cambridge United and Bolton Wanderers meant Derek Adams’ players finished fourth, a point adrift of automatic promotion out of League Two.
Adams had made one change to the Morecambe side that won at Walsall seven days earlier.
Top scorer Carlos Mendes Gomes was available again after a toe injury, replacing Freddie Price, who dropped to the bench where A-Jay Leitch-Smith also returned.
Going into the game, Adams had said he was targeting a win first and foremost irrespective of how the other sides in the promotion race fared.
His players had the first half-chance with Stockton heading over from Ryan Cooney’s long throw.
They were much closer just past the quarter-hour when keeper and woodwork came to the visitors’ rescue.
Bradford skipper Paudie O’Connor lazily squandered possession to Stockton deep inside the Bantams’ half.
He played in Brad Lyons, whose shot was pushed out by Sam Hornby, and when the ball was played back to McAlinden, his sidefooted effort struck the post.
Cooney also shot wide from distance for Morecambe, who were grateful for skipper Sam Lavelle’s late intervention after Lee Novak gained a sight of goal.
Then, just before the half-hour, Morecambe took the lead.
Superb play from Toumani Diagouraga took him away from two players before slipping the ball through for McAlinden.
He advanced into the area and kept his nerve before slipping the ball past Hornby.
The visitors began to establish something of a foothold with Andy Cook twice heading wide.
Their best opportunity came nine minutes before the break when Diagouraga was penalised on the edge of the Morecambe area, only for Elliott Watt to send the free-kick straight into the wall.
Diagouraga volleyed wide from the edge of the area early in the second half before the Shrimps doubled their lead with a five-man move on 57 minutes.
Cooney and McAlinden combined to find Yann Songo’o, who chipped the ball through for Mendes Gomes.
He twisted and turned before laying off the ball for Stockton to score with a first-time finish.
Connor Wood sent a free-kick from distance off target as both sides took the chance to refresh their line-ups during the second half.
One of Bradford’s replacements, Clayton Donaldson, couldn’t get enough power on an effort, held by Kyle Letheren.
Another cross from outside saw Paudie O’Connor head wide, while Letheren made a good low save from Billy Clarke as the Shrimps claimed three points and now focus on the play-offs.
The first leg is on May 20 with matches played at 6pm and 8.15pm, while the second legs are on May 23 and kick-off at 12.30pm and 6.30pm.
Morecambe: Letheren, Cooney, Knight-Percival (Davis 75), Lavelle, Hendrie, Songo’o (Denny 80), Diagouraga (Kenyon 83), McAlinden, Lyons, Mendes Gomes (Pringle 83), Stockton (Price 80). Subs not used: Halstead, Leitch-Smith.
Bradford City: Hornby, A O’Connor, Sikora (Clarke 74), P O’Connor, Wood (Foulds 74), Sutton, Cooke, Watt (Vernam 86), Cranskaw (Stevens 67), Novak, Cook (Donaldson 67). Subs not used: O’Donnell, Evans.
Referee: Craig Hicks.
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