Morecambe 1, Wycombe Wanderers 1.
A LATE equaliser from Kevin Ellison denied Wanderers a win that had looked likely thanks to Paris Cowan-Hall’s fifth headed goal of the season.
The veteran winger celebrated signing a new contract earlier in the week by grabbing his side a share of the spoils with a header.
It was rough justice on a Wanderers side who were good value for a lead given to them by Cowan-Hall in a first half dominated by the visitors.
A hard working midfield quartet didn’t allow the hosts to have a sniff of the ball, and while Wanderers didn’t create a succession of chances any good play came from them.
They were comfortably in control and Morecambe didn’t look threatening despite stepping things up after the break, and the goal when it came still had a feeling of coming out of the blue – leaving Wanderers to collectively kick themselves for not killing the game off.
Even after Ellison’s goal Wycombe had chances to win as they had two efforts cleared off the line, but while this was a vast improvement from last week the search for a win goes on.
A heavy pitch that survived an inspection made good football difficult but it was from a fine pass from Matt Bloomfield that Wanderers fashioned the game’s opening chance, as home skipper Mark Hughes threw himself at Matt McClure’s shot.
Bloomfield and McClure were two of the four players brought into the side after last week’s humbling by AFC Wimbledon, with striker Steven Craig and defender Gary Doherty also being handed recalls.
The Shrimps were forced into an early change as Tony Diagne replaced the injured Robbie Threlfall at the back and while they were adjusting to the alteration nobody picked out Josh Scowen from Nick Arnold’s free kick, with Cowan-Hall’s snapshot from his team mate’s cross drifting over the crossbar.
A hard working midfield stifled Morecambe and any chances were going the way of the visitors. Scowen’s pass found Cowan-Hall, who turned his way into the area before having his left footed shot deflected agonisingly wide of the post.
Morecambe made a meal of trying to clear the resulting corner and the ball once more fell to Cowan-Hall on the edge of the area, but this time the winger’s shot was always destined to fly wide of the upright.
Opportunities for the home side were extremely rare, with Diagne curling a free kick over from the edge of the area and Alex Kenyon powering a header wide from a long throw into the box.
And it was Wanderers who took the lead five minutes before the interval as Cowan-Hall lost his marker at an Arnold corner and was given all the time in the world to glance a header home at the near post for his fifth goal of the campaign.
Pressure from the Blues continued after the break as Stuart Lewis’s piledriver crashed into Hughes, with McClure being just unable to dig the ball out from under his feet from the rebound.
Another shot from the Chairboys skipper was gathered in low down by Barry Roche after taking a deflection. The Shrimps keeper then nervously claimed a curling effort by Craig, after the Scotsman had been played in by McClure when an attempted clearance from Morecambe struck referee Trevor Kettle on the back and ran kindly for the Blues marksman.
Morecambe did at least show greater urgency in the second half but they were very heavily reliant on the direct ball, which was bread and butter for Doherty and Leon Johnson at the back. The pair won every header on the few occasions the home side were able to get the ball beyond the indefatigable Wanderers midfield.
Still Matt Ingram went untested in the visiting goal, although the Wanderers keeper was relieved to see Diagne scuff a shot off target after the Blues defence failed to clear their lines for what seemed the only time all afternoon.
But the hosts did manage to haul themselves level as substitute Joe Mwasile escaped down the right before feeding Andy Fleming, whose cross to the near post was firmly headed home into the top corner by Ellison.
That equaliser seemed to be the extent of Morecambe’s ambition, as Ellison was replaced minutes later by veteran midfielder Stewart Drummond. With him off the pitch Wanderers went back on the attack and a Scowen header was hacked to safety off the line by Hughes.
And the home skipper was in the right place in stoppage time, once more clearing off the line as substitute Jo Kuffour’s inswinging shot beat Roche but not Hughes.
Wanderers: Ingram, Arnold, Johnson, Doherty, Wood, Cowan-Hall, Scowen, Lewis, Bloomfield, McClure, Craig (sub Kuffour). Substitutes not used: Horlock, McCoy, Hause, Morias, Kretzschmar, Knott.
Attendance: 1,575 (98 from Wycombe)