Date: 31st December 2011 at 7:54pm
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It was a cold, blustery, wet start to the last day of the year. Brewers fans hiked their way up the M6 to Morecambe’s Globe Arena, following the side’s defiant conquest at Sixfields on this year’s Boxing Day fixture. The Dickensian conditions outside proved miserable at best, and little more could be said of the sustenance found in the Arena’s kiosks. Apparently award-winning, the pies, drowned in weak gravy, bore a resemblance to Christmas meat that had been left out on the side this past week: dry and not at all hot. So, a cynical start to what would eventually become an entertaining afternoon.

As kick-off loomed, the rain could be heard pinging off the stand’s roof, only for it to be sent spiralling over the pitch. The game started with both teams appearing in good spirits – Morecambe fancying their chances of a home victory, having been defeated five days previously at the Arena by mid-table Accrington. End-to-end stuff with goals surely on the horizon. Morecambe came closest first, but it was only for the quick reaction of Ross Atkins to prevent the home-side taking the lead. It took little over half an hour in to the first-half before The Shrimps did manage to find the back of the net. A well-struck Lewis Alessandra shot from the edge of the area found the inside of the post, and quiet the Brewers contingent fell. However, the Brewers didn’t wait long before equalising. Having been awarded a free-kick down our left-side, up steps Billy Kee who rifles what appears to be a wayward shot across the area, only for The Shrimps’ Nick Fenton to stand in its way, deflecting the ball perfectly in to the bottom corner of the goal. One-all, and the game definitely hung in the balance. End-to-end play ensued, with Nathan Stanton and The Shrimps’ Jason Price throwing their handbags at one another, until the whistle came to signal half-time and everybody else’s chance to secure a warm beverage – only if you were in the correct queue, of course.

With no changes to either line-up for the second-half, the game got underway once again in a similar manner to before the break. Spells of good football came from both sides – a nod to our own Chris Palmer and the home side’s Andrew Fleming for being instrumental in much of their respective team’s play. The Brewers pushed forward early in the half, looking for their second goal, and in doing so were rewarded with a free-kick halfway in to their opponent’s half. A Chris Palmer delivery found the head of Aaron Webster, which in turn, found the head of Calvin Zola, who nodded the ball underneath keeper Barry Roche. Two-one, but the game was still an open affair. Having taken a knock toward the close of the first-half, Stanton was substituted, being replaced by Danny Blanchett, with Webster tucking in beside Ryan Austin. Almost immediately Morecambe sniffed out the unsettled back-line and started throwing players forward, looking threatening each time they did so. Before too long they were back level, as some poor defending allowed Gary McDonald to slip through the midfield and find the bottom corner of the goal – Atkins left with no chance. Soon after, the Brewers altered to a 4-5-1 formation, with Adam Bolder being introduced for a tiring Billy Kee, creating chances still through attacking trio Cleveland Taylor, Jacques Maghoma and Zola. Despite both teams having late chances, the game rolled out a two-all draw, which respectfully highlighted the game in its entirety.

A hard-fought point for the Brewers away from home in a game that entertained the 1,810 attending: attacking football, tough challenges, a consistent referee, a linesman attempting his hardest to keep up with play, lively away support and drama. All in all, a pleasant trip north and another point towards play-off contention. Here’s to a happy new year for you all and a happy second-half to the season.