A monumental victory for the Whites at Morecambe, as we edge closer to a barely believable promotion out of League Two.
Everyone played their part in a win that should really have been more comfortable, given that Kelvin Mellor’s David Beckham to Dapo Afolayan’s Diego Simeone moment gave us the pivotal man advantage over the Shrimps on 23 minutes.
The hosts had certainly begun the game with energy and purpose, shading the opening period but with just a couple of half-chances from corners, courtesy of their skipper and Bolton old boy Sam Lavelle, to show for their efforts.
The Whites’ poor final ball and decision making in the last quarter of the game, as Morecambe left huge gaps to exploit when chasing the equaliser, meant Derek Adams’ charges had one, well, as it transpired two huge opportunities in quick succession. The flailing leg of Matt Gilks denied Cole Stockton’s low effort that was heading into the opposite corner and the man mountain that is Alex Baptiste used all his experience to position himself on the line to block the follow-up effort that came after a frantic few seconds.
If it weren’t for the performance of my pick then Baps would be a shoe-in for yet another MOTM. But the display from a man who’d not even made the bench for the past eleven games was too good to ignore.
Having not played a minute of action since the 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at the UniBol on the 9th February, when he was replaced in the 70th minute by Declan John after his return to fitness, Huddersfield loanee Ben Jackson stepped up to the plate with the winning goal.
After latching onto George Thomason’s square ball and ghosting past a couple of Morecambe defenders, with perhaps his less favoured right boot he struck a well hit effort towards the far corner. Morecambe goalkeeper Kyle Letheren was possibly unsighted, but still managed to get a hand to the ball. Ultimately he was unable to keep it out of his net, sparking scenes of wild celebrations amongst the Wanderers players.
Not only was he the match winner, Jackson was also the game’s most composed and unflustered performer. Showing a cool head under pressure, his pinpoint passing and a stream of crosses from the left flank meant that time and time again we looked to build our attacks through the impressive 20 year-old.
It was such a superb showing from him, especially after kicking his heels for months, alongside some appearances for his parent club’s under 23’s. You could see via his social media messages and interactions with fans that he was itching to play his part in the run-in and boy did he take his chance!
It would’ve been easy for Evatt to go with the right-footed Harry Brockbank, given his encouraging display against Carlisle when he replaced the stricken Declan John. Yet he went with his gut instinct and was handsomely rewarded by Jackson.
A big selection quandary now lies in wait for Evatt, as his post-comments suggest John will have recovered from a haematoma on his knee which forced him off against the Cumbrians.
Whoever he chooses to take the field at left-back against Exeter, I’m confident that with the spirit in the side and the timely return of captain Antoni Sarcevic, we can finish the job off against the Grecians and seal a most unlikely return to League One at the first time of asking.