Morecambe 1-0 Newport (AET) County: Carlos Mendes Gomes scores controversial winner from the spot in extra-time as Shrimps win League Two play-off final
- Neither side were able to find the back of the net in normal time at Wembley
- Shrimps awarded a penalty when John O’Sullivan was fouled by Ryan Haynes
- Contact appeared to be outside the area but there was no VAR to overrule it
Adversity builds character over a length of time — both Morecambe and Newport County have experienced their fair share, and it was a given something contentious or special in extra time would be needed to pull the sides apart.
Both had fought tooth and nail over 90 minutes in the gruelling Wembley sun. The Shrimps with just one shot on target, the Exiles wasteful in-front of goal.
Both with a beleaguered past involving debts and relegation scrapes. It fell to Carlos Mendes Gomes’ 107th minute penalty to propel the Morecambe to League One for the first time in their history.
Carlos Mendes Gomes of Morecambe celebrates after scoring the winning goal
Gomes made no mistake from the penalty spot in the second half of extra-time at Wembley
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
MORECAMBE (4-1-4-1): Letheren 5.5; Cooney 7.5, Lavelle 6, Knight-Percival 6, Gibson 6.5 (Mellor 106); Songo’o 6; McAlinden 5.5 (Lyons 75), Wildig 5.5 (O’Sullivan 90), Diagouraga 6.5, Mendes Gomes 6.5 (Kenyon 114); Stockton 6
Subs not used: Davis, Halstead, Pringle
Booked: O’Sullivan, Mendes Gomes
Manager: Derek Adams 6
NEWPORT COUNTY (3-5-2): King 7; Shephard 6.5, Bennett 6.5, Demetriou 7; Haynes 6 (Farquharson 111), Dolan 5.5 (Hartigan 63, 6), Labadie 6, Sheehan 6.5, Lewis 5.5 (Taylor 62, 6); Amond 6 (Maynard 80), Collins 5.5 (Ellison 86)
Subs not used: Townsend, Ledley
Manager: Michael Flynn 6
Referee: Bobby Madley 5
It must be said, this was rather cruel. The challenge that led to the penalty appeared extremely soft, as John O’Sullivan half-fell to the ground under contact with defender Ryan Haynes. It was not what the Exiles had deserved after spending much of the match in the ascendancy.
Mendes Gomes made no mistake from the spot to neatly caress the ball into the bottom left corner and celebrate shirtless with the fans.
What an achievement this is for the Lancashire outfit, having finished in the top 10 for this time in 10 years.
When success is far and few between, such occasions as these are marked in bold within history books.
Thirty-two years ago, Newport were liquidated after amassing over £300,000 in debts. The last time they had reached the third tier was 1987.
Morecambe’s 101-year history neither extolled searing heights, having never reached the third tier; such elements the European Super League would happily consign to the bin.
The fixture’s enormity had clearly impacted Shrimps goalkeeper Kyle Letheren, who found himself in no man’s land twice within the first 15 minutes.
A long Mickey Demetriou throw-in reached Scot Bennett in the box, but he headed wide after Letheren collided with him. It was arguably a penalty — referee Bobby Madley hastily ushered play on.
Then a Newport counter-attacking aerial ball saw the keeper stranded out of goal, only for Ryan Cooney to desperately clear the ball.
There was nothing to choose from between the two teams in the first half in a cagey opening
A strong possession-based start by the Lancashire outfit was slowly evaporating in the face of real chances.
The Welsh side’s fans thought a Bennett strike crossed the line seconds before half-time, only to loop wide of the far post after a Yann Songo’o deflection.
Shrimps midfielder Toumani Diagouraga had his side’s most promising first-half move three minutes before the interval, his marauding pass finding Cooney. The resulting shot was cleared yards from the goal line by Liam Shephard.
Morecambe’s first shot on target 66 minutes in was nearly worth the wait. Cooney went for the ‘want a job doing, do it yourself’ adage with a speculative 30-yard drive. Goalkeeper Tom King was equal to the strike.
The best chance of opening half fell to Scot Bennett, who’s added time strike deflected wide
The Exiles’ Lewis Collins and Shephard had shots saved as the minutes slowly ticked away.
Man of the moment Kevin Ellison, the 42-year-old former Morecambe player previously banished by Derek Adams, came on with four minutes of regular time left. He was consigned to a factory job just months ago — revenge and promotion was now in sight.
Captain Joss Labadie should have wrapped the final up in the 104th minute when his toe poke from substitute Nicky Maynard’s cross blazed over the bar.
He was to pay for that miss with Mendes Gomes’ winning penalty just three minutes later.
Fans were once again welcomed into Wembley as fans from both sides showed their support