Morecambe 4 Doncaster Rovers 3: Shrimps' stunning second-half fightback earns three points

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Jeers turned to cheers as a staggering second-half comeback saw Morecambe overturn a three-goal deficit to claim three points at the Mazuma Stadium.

Stephen Robinson’s players were booed off at the break after goals inside the opening half-hour from Aidan Barlow, Dan Gardner and Joseph Olowu had Doncaster 3-0 up at half-time.

Cole Stockton, back from injury, scored twice to give the Shrimps hope before Jon Obika got them on level terms with seven minutes remaining.

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Then, the great escape was completed three minutes later when Toumani Diagouraga lashed home the winner from the edge of the box.

Cole Stockton scored twice for MorecambeCole Stockton scored twice for Morecambe
Cole Stockton scored twice for Morecambe
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Morecambe made four changes from the side beaten by Crewe Alexandra in their final game of 2021.

Back came Stockton, Diagouraga, Arthur Gnahoua and Alfie McCalmont with Callum Jones, Aaron Wildig, Obika and Adam Phillips the men to make way.

Injuries and absences also meant a first appearance on the bench for Academy youngster Jamie Nicholson.

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It also meant a return to the 4-3-3 formation preferred by Robinson after the use of a back three in recent weeks.

Rovers began brightly, Kyle Knoyle’s cross narrowly behind Barlow who scuffed a shot straight at Kyle Letheren moments later.

McCalmont sent a first-time shot straight at Doncaster keeper Louis Jones with Robinson incensed Morecambe hadn’t been awarded a free-kick for a foul on Jonah Ayunga.

His mood worsened when Morecambe yet again shot themselves in the foot from a set piece on seven minutes.

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They failed to clear a corner, a goalmouth scramble ensued and Barlow blasted home the loose ball from close range.

Ayunga twice headed off target and Stockton sent an overhead kick narrowly wide from the edge of the area as the Shrimps sought a way back into proceedings.

McCalmont chipped over a free-kick from the edge of the area before the visitors made it 2-0 on 26 minutes.

Branden Horton’s cross from the left made its way over to Gardner, who drove a shot through Letheren.

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If that was bad, it got worse three minutes later when a short corner ended with Matthew Smith crossing for Olowu to head home.

There were signs of life from the Shrimps as the half drew to a close as Gnahoua and Greg Leigh saw efforts saved and Gnahoua a shot blocked.

Wildig was introduced at half-time and the Shrimps gave themselves a glimmer of hope on 52 minutes.

A cross from the left was headed back across goal by Anthony O’Connor for Stockton to score.

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Gnahoua had a shot blocked for a corner and Leigh headed over before Stockton could only glance a header wide from Shane McLoughlin’s free-kick.

The Shrimps’ top scorer saw an effort turned behind before setting up a grandstand finish on 74 minutes.

Diagouraga won possession before playing in McLoughlin, and though his touch took him wide, he was able to find Stockton for his 18th goal of the season.

Nine minutes later and Obika, who had only come off the bench five minutes earlier, netted his first goal for the club when diverting home Leigh’s shot.

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A surreal second half had one final twist on 86 minutes when a corner dropped to Diagouraga on the edge of the box, where he lashed a stunning first-time shot into the top corner.

Morecambe: Letheren, McLaughlin, O’Connor, Gibson, Leigh, McLoughlin, Diagouraga, McCalmont (Wildig 46), Ayunga (Cooney 90), Stockton, Gnahoua (Obika 78). Subs not used: Andresson, C Jones, Delaney, Nicholson.

Doncaster Rovers: L Jones, Knoyle, Olowu, Rowe, Horton, Smith, Gardner (Ravenhill 46), Galbraith, Barlow (Cukur 61), Bogle (Dodoo 34), Hiwula. Subs not used: Dahlberg, Williams, Hasani, Blythe.

Referee: James Bell.

Attendance: 4,001.

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