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17:10 5th April 2014
By  Andrew Webb

Report: Morecambe 0-1 Stags

Junior Daniel’s magnificent free-kick gave Mansfield Town a superb 1-0 victory over Morecambe, which lifted them back into the top half of the Sky Bet League Two.

The goal came just before half-time when Daniel, who replaced Lee Beevers who dislocated his shoulder in the early minutes, unleashed a stunning 25-yard free-kick straight into the top corner.

Paul Cox’s team thoroughly merited their victory, producing a resolute defensive display to keep their third clean-sheet in four matches, whilst being ruthless in attack.

The Stags suffered a setback within the first few minutes as Lee Beevers appeared to dislocate his shoulder in an innocuous off-the-ball incident, and immediately signalled to the bench for treatment.

Beevers was replaced by Daniel, who took up the left wing-back role, with Darryl Westlake moving across to his more familiar position of right wing-back.

Morecambe looked very dangerous in the early exchanges and Jack Redshaw seized upon a sloppy mistake by Martin Riley on eight minutes, which allowed him to advance into a one-on-one with Alan Marriott.

With the goal at his mercy and only Marriott to beat, it seemed inevitable that Redshaw would find the target, but instead he fired horribly wide of the target from around 12 yards.

The Shrimps’ pressure didn’t end there, however, as less than 60 seconds later, Robbie Threlfall cut inside and unleashed a low shot, which bounced up and sailed just wide of Marriott’s left-hand post.

At the other end, Shrimps’ ‘keeper Barry Roche was called into action when he had to rush quickly off his goal-line to stop Ollie Palmer from latching onto Westlake’s long ball.

Nevertheless, Jim Bentley’s team continued to look lively and were territorially on top for much of the opening quarter-of-an-hour, but they were unable to convert this pressure into more chances.

The hosts did go close a few moments later when Hughes drilled a low 35-yard free-kick through a crowded area, but his shot was comfortably saved by Marriott.

As the first half progressed, the Stags started to look more lively and creative, though they didn’t create that many clear-cut opportunities.

However, in one set-piece move, Adam Murray’s cross was flicked on by Matt Rhead and the ball fell dangerously for Ritchie Sutton, who saw his subsequent effort blocked by Hughes.

Roche also claimed a corner by Murray and the Shrimps’ custodian was soon called into action again moments later, when he beat Lee Stevenson in reaching an intended through ball by Rhead.

There wasn’t much goalmouth action until the 39th minute as Jamie Devitt, easily Morecambe’s best player, whipped a left-sided ball into the six-yard box, which forced Daniel into a superb clearance.

Devitt created more problems for the Stags, when he played a sweet one-two with Redshaw from the resulting corner, which allowed him to cut inside and flash a shot wide of the opposite post.

Two minutes later, the on loan Chesterfield winger had a tame attempt saved by Marriott, before Mansfield won a free-kick in a dangerous position Hughes recklessly brought down Rhead.

The subsequent set-piece was left to Daniel, who stood over the ball for a while and then unleashed a sumptuous 25-yard free-kick straight into the top corner, giving Roche no chance.

Mansfield’s lead was slightly against the run of play as the Shrimps had created more chances, but in the second half, the Stags always looked likely to add to their lead.

The visitors applied pressure immediately and within 60 seconds of the re-start, Stevenson had a penalty appeal waved away, despite being clattered into by Roche.

Riley soon came within inches of making it 2-0 when Murray’s long set-piece was diverted towards the far-post by Rhead, but the Stags’ centre-back was unable to poke the ball home.

Morecambe were now beginning to struggle to generate any rhythm and they spurned a half-chance when Fleming screwed a shot horribly out of the ground from 20 yards.

On the hour mark, the midfielder hit a scruffy, tame attempt shot at Marriott, which posed little difficulty for the Stags’ shot-stopper as minutes slowly started to ebb away.

The Shrimps made a double substitution with 20 minutes left to play as Shaun Beeley and Padraig Amond replaced Sampson and Parrish respectively.

Daniel almost put the direction of the three points beyond doubt when he had a swerving 35-yard free-kick tipped over at the last moment by Roche, who was unsighted until the last moment.

Ryan Tafazolli headed wide from Murray’s resulting corner ahead of a ferociously fought last 15 minutes, which saw the hosts reduced to 10 men when Fleming received a straight red card for a late challenge on Murray.

Morecambe almost snatched an equaliser when Kevin Ellison directed a tame header at Marriott following Amond’s left-sided cross towards the edge of the six-yard box.

Rhead also drew Roche into a splendid one-handed save when he directed a cute header goalwards from Murray’s teasing set-piece cross into the area.

After a frantic last few minutes of normal time in which several players were booked, Mansfield were forced to soak up more pressure in eight minutes of stoppage-time.

However, Morecambe were unable to force an equaliser as the Stags recorded their 13th victory in Sky Bet League Two, which moves them closer to the Play-Off zone.