Morecambe 3 Bradford City 2
The Bantams suffered their first ever defeat at Morecambe’s Globe Arena on Wednesday evening but still managed to top Group C of the Northern Section of the Checkatrade Trophy, with the draw for the next round made on Thursday morning. After a goalless first half, Haris Vuckic volleyed City in front early in the half but Paul Mullin equalised just a couple of minutes later. A quick-fire double from Cole Stockton put the hosts in control but Vuckic halved the deficit for his second goal of the evening in the latter stages with a superbly taken free kick.
Rouven Sattelmaier is pencilled in to make his league bow at the weekend against Rochdale and Wednesday night proved to be a good warm up ahead of that one; he was called into action early on and held onto the ball alertly following Lee Molyneux’s well-struck shot from outside the area after he’d linked up well with Aaron McGowan.
Ellis Hudson impressed in the youth team’s recent FA Youth Cup victory against Hartlepool United and he came in for his first senior start; the talented young winger delivered a cross to Haris Vuckic at the far post but the Slovenian forward could only manage to glance the ball wide of the target.
Vuckic made way at half time during City’s FA Cup first round exit at the hands of Accrington Stanley last weekend and he seemed to be in a determined mood on a cold evening in West Lancashire. After receiving a pass in-field from Filipe Morais, he made a bee-line towards the edge of the box before seeing a shot go inches wide of the target with Shrimps’ stopper Danijel Nizic grateful to see it do so.
Whether James Meredith is deemed fit enough to start the weekend’s visit of Rochdale in Sky Bet League One remains to be seen but the left back came in to make his first start since the defeat to Oxford United last month and completed almost 70 minutes; he connected with a volley, latching onto Morais’ cross before forcing a corner.
The first half was a real even contest between two sides still with something to play for in this competition but the first goal of the evening came early in the second half. The goal came through Vuckic for his third of the season; Morais’ cross towards Marc McNulty was cleared as far as the frontman who steered a volley past Nizic in front of the 242 City fans that made up comfortably over a quarter of the sub-thousand crowd.
The City supporters had barely stopped celebrating the opening goal when the hosts equalised. Paul Mullin was brought on as a substitute at half time and he looked lively throughout the second half; he ran into the box and eased past a tangled Tom Windle before slamming the ball superbly past Sattelmaier and into the bottom corner from a tight angle.
Morais almost restored City’s lead with a superb shot from 25 yards out which landed on the roof of the net but down the other end it was Morecambe who took the lead for the first time. A City corner broke down far too easily and the hosts sprung the counter attack; Jack Dunn ran down the left and into the box before squaring to Cole Stockton who made no mistake from 12 yards.
A couple of minutes later, Stockton had his second as the visitors began to look really vulnerable. Clearly full of confidence from his first goal a couple of minutes previous, the former Tranmere Rovers forward tried his luck with a powerful shot from 20 yards which took a huge deflection and wrong-footed Sattelmaier before finding the back of the net via the inside of the post.
Morecambe looked like they could score more goals and Stockton should have had a hat-trick; connecting with McGowan’s cross from the right hand side, he jumped unopposed in the penalty area but he could only head over the bar to leave Sattelmaier unchallenged on this occasion.
Paul Mullin wasted a good opportunity to increase the margin to three goals before Vuckic reduced it to just one shortly afterwards. McNulty went on a surging run and put the ball through the defender’s legs before being bundled over 20 yards from goal, Vuckic stepped up and emphatically found Nizic’s top right corner to spark the chance of a City revival.
City piled the pressure on in the final moments of the game with McNulty and Daniel Devine having hopeful shots at goal but the Shrimps held on for a victory which saw them emerge just ahead of Bury to book their place in the next stage of the competition, joining the Bantams in the process.