Morecambe 1 Bolton Wanderers 1: Supporter allegations overshadow Mazuma Stadium draw

Amadou Bakayoko’s stoppage-time goal ensured honours were even at the Mazuma Stadium - on an afternoon when the result proved secondary.

By Gavin Browne
Saturday, 5th February 2022, 5:45 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th February 2022, 5:46 pm

The focus should have been on how a record home attendance witnessed an entertaining game in which Cole Stockton had given Morecambe the lead with his 21st goal of the season.

Instead, the attention will be on second-half incidents which ended with both sides taken off the pitch for 10 minutes, allegations concerning the behaviour of Morecambe fans and a pitch invasion from a section of the away support after their late equaliser.

The Shrimps had made two changes from the team beaten at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.

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Adam Smith made his debut in goal, replacing Trevor Carson following his concussion at Hillsborough.

Greg Leigh was back from international duty, Ryan Cooney the man to make way with Ryan McLaughlin back in his more familiar right-back role.

Both sides had a strong wind with which to contend as passes were often either overhit or fell short of their intended target.

It was the visitors playing into the breeze during the first half and they had the first sight of goal on eight minutes.

Nice, crisp passing to feet fashioned space for Dapo Afolyan but his effort was blocked by the home defence.

Jordan Williams fired over from 18 yards before the Shrimps began to settle and established a foothold.

Jonah Ayunga had sent an early effort off target before creating a half-chance for Stockton midway through the half.

A delightful pass found the striker who, for once, had shrugged off the attentions of Ricardo Santos before shooting wide from the edge of the area.

Moments later, Shane McLoughlin found Stockton whose shot was diverted behind for a corner, from which Ayunga’s acrobatic attempt was easy for keeper James Trafford.

Smith was finally called into action on the half-hour, pushing away Declan John’s shot as the opening goal remained elusive.

Ayunga had another attempt deflected behind and Arthur Gnahoua fired over, summing up the Shrimps’ first-half performance: they got into good positions but largely failed to test Trafford.

Bolton were first to show in the second half as Jacob Bedeau blocked a Dion Charles shot, seconds before Aaron Morley wastefully fired a 20-yard free-kick into the away support.

However, it was Morecambe who spurned a golden chance to take the lead when neat play in and around the area ended with Leigh squaring to Anthony O’Connor, who sidefooted straight at Trafford from 10 yards.

That was the start of the keeper’s second-half heroics with three fine saves in nine minutes.

He held fierce efforts from Toumani Diagouraga and Adam Phillips before an even better stop came with 20 minutes left.

Leigh’s cross dropped to Stockton, who missed his kick, only for the ball to reach Ayunga.

His shot was blocked by Santos and, after an eternity, referee Ross Joyce pointed to the spot.

If the visitors were angry at that decision, they were incensed when Santos was shown a red card, protesting the ball had struck his shoulder.

However, Trafford preserved parity with a stunning stop to not only keep out Stockton’s spot-kick but also hold the ball.

He was powerless three minutes later, nevertheless, when Phillips was released down the right-hand side and squared the ball for Stockton to sweep home.

O’Connor had a goal ruled out before proceedings quickly took a turn for the unpleasant.

It started when Smith handed an object to the referee and quickly escalated into a less than polite exchange between the Bolton dugout and a section of home fans.

Play restarted following a short delay, only for another flare-up to end with play suspended and both teams taken off the pitch.

Once they returned, the visitors drew level as Bakayoko converted from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s cross, leading to a number of supporters running onto the pitch.

That was enough for the game to end with honours even, though the result won’t be what is talked about in the aftermath.

Morecambe: Smith, McLaughlin, O’Connor, Bedeau, Leigh, McLoughlin, Diagouraga, Phillips (Fane 85), Ayunga, Stockton, Gnahoua (Connolly 90). Subs not used: Da Silva Mendes, Obika, Cooney, McCalmont, Bennett..

Bolton Wanderers: Trafford, Aimson, Santos, Johnston, Fossey, Lee (Bodvarsson 46), Williams, Morley, John, Afolyan (Dempsey 66), Charles (Bakayoko 78). Subs not used: Dixon, Sadlier, Thomason, John-Baptiste.

Referee: Ross Joyce.

Attendance: 5,617.

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