Morecambe 0 Bolton Wanderers 1: Ten-man Shrimps are left to rue defender seeing red
Morecambe have it all to do in their bid to win automatic promotion from League Two after losing at the Mazuma Stadium.
The battle of third against fourth went Bolton Wanderers’ way thanks to Ben Jackson’s first-half goal.
Wanderers were good value for their win, though they were given a helping hand by Kelvin Mellor’s dismissal midway through the first half after he took exception to a challenge from Oladapo Afolayan.
His dismissal was the fifth red card the Shrimps had picked up in matches against sides in the top seven over the course of the season.
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It also meant Morecambe had lost both of their starting full-backs in the space of three minutes after an injury to Liam Gibson moments earlier.
Morecambe boss Derek Adams had made one change from the side which won at Grimsby Town in midweek.
Freddie Price had to settle for a spot on the bench with Brad Lyons coming into midfield.
After a scrappy start which saw both sides trying to assert their authority, it was the Shrimps who had the better of the early chances.
Lyons saw a shot blocked, Yann Songo’o fired over from distance and Sam Lavelle’s header was comfortably held by Matt Gilks.
Gilks cleared and the immediate aftermath saw the Shrimps forced into an early change with Gibson going down injured.
Afolayan curled an effort narrowly wide for the visitors, who then gained the initiative midway through the half.
Afolayan brought down Mellor, who seemed to kick out in response and was presented with a straight red card for his troubles.
It left Morecambe down to 10 men and facing a tiring afternoon ahead with Bolton’s approach of patiently keeping the ball.
That saw the visitors begin to enjoy much the greater possession with Lavelle forced into a last-ditch clearance and another lengthy passing move seeing Gethin Jones fire over.
Jackson forced Kyle Letheren into a save with half-time approaching, while Alex Baptiste also fired wide from distance.
Bolton’s pressure eventually paid off with two seconds remaining of the minimum three added minutes of first-half stoppage time.
A free-kick wasn’t cleared and Bolton eventually worked the ball to Jackson, who cut on to his right foot and fired past Letheren.
Both sides made changes at the break with Price replacing Aaron Wildig and Nathan Delfouneso on for Afolayan, who had been booked before the break along with Adams.
Price made an early impression, picking up a caution within three minutes for a challenge on Baptiste.
Letheren denied Jackson a second, tipping over another shot from distance, before Cole Stockton was forced into clearing Jones’ cross with Bolton players well placed.
While the deficit remained at one goal, Morecambe weren’t out of it with Price shooting off target and Stockton diverting a Ryan Cooney cross wide.
Hendrie attempted to emulate Jackson by scoring with his right foot, only to curl an effort well over the bar as the Shrimps continued to battle.
However, they almost went two behind with 16 minutes to go when Ricardo Santos headed narrowly wide from Lloyd Isgrove’s corner.
Isgrove also saw two efforts blocked with the visitors guilty of seemingly trying to walk the ball into the net.
That almost allowed Morecambe a leveller late on, only for Baptiste to clear off the line from Toumani Diagouraga as the Shrimps were again left to rue ill discipline.
Morecambe: Letheren, Mellor, Knight-Percival (McAlinden 79), Lavelle, Gibson (Hendrie 20), Songo’o (Kenyon 79), Lyons (Cooney 23), Wildig (Price 46), Diagouraga, Mendes Gomes, Stockton. Subs not used: Halstead, Davis.
Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Jones, Santos, Baptiste, Jackson, Williams, Lee, Isgrove (Elbouzedi 81), Thomason (Sarcevic 70), Afolayan (Delfouneso 46), Doyle (Miller 74). Subs not used: Jensen, Brockbank, Tutte.
Referee: Carl Boyeson.
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