2011 has been a year of change for Morecambe, with Sammy McIlroy ending his extremely successful reign as manager and long-serving defender Jim Bentley taking over managerial hot seat. The feel good factor has returned to the club and despite the current run of poor form, hopes are high that 2012 will be a good year for The Shrimps. With only two more games to play in 2011* I thought I would take the time to look back over the previous twelve months and pick out the top five games of the year.
5) Chesterfield 0-2 Morecambe – League 2 – 26th February
When Morecambe travelled to league leaders Chesterfield on the back of nine games without a win it looked like the Shrimps would be in for a tough afternoon and an almost certain defeat.
However, Sammy McIlroy’s side defied the odds and came away with a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from former Spireite Kevan Hurst and Huddersfield loanee Jimmy Spencer.
Hurst’s opener was a sweetly struck effort from outside the area that gave Tommy Lee no chance of saving. Hurst was involved again in the second goal when his cross into the area was pounced upon by Spencer who diverted the ball into the top corner.
With Morecambe looking like they were entering a relegation scrap at the time this result was a massive confidence boost and saw the team move eight points clear of the drop zone.
4) Barnsley 0-2 Morecambe – Carling Cup – 9th August
The Shrimps have enjoyed some great nights in the Carling Cup over the past five years with victories against Wolves, Preston and Coventry but this year’s triumph at Oakwell had extra meaning as it was the first win of Jim Bentleys managerial career.
An Izak Reid cross was converted by Danny Carlton shortly after half time to open the scoring before second half substitute Kevin Ellison secured the victory in the 86th minute to knock out Keith Hill’s side.
This result was an import one and kick started Morecambe’s season after a disappointing opening day defeat to Barnet at The Globe Arena. Jim Bentley would steer his side to eight league games without defeat which saw them climb to the summit of the table before a 3-2 home defeat against Bristol Rovers.
Whilst Morecambe fans won’t look back on this cup tie with the same sense of pride that they do with the games against Preston and Wolves, it will still be remembered as a great night in the clubs history.
3) Barnet 1-2 Morecambe – League 2 – 19th March
This game was a hugely important one at the time, a fact that didn’t go unrecognised by the Morecambe board of directors who provided free travel down to Underhill for fans to cheer on the Shrimps.
Morecambe were sliding closer and closer to the drop zone and found themselves just six points clear of Barnet going into this game, making it very much a relegation six pointer.
It looked bleak for the Shrimps when Mark Byrne gave the home side the lead, but Morecambe managed to turn the game around thanks to Danny Carlton making himself the hero of the day with two goals.
The victory proved to be key in Morecambe’s survival, with Sammy McIlroy’s side only picking up a further two wins that season and finishing just four points clear of relegation.
2) Port Vale 0-4 Morecambe – League 2 – 22nd October
Arguably Morecambe’s best away performance since being promoted to the Football League came in 2011, with a 4-0 victory at Vale Park.
Port Vale were full of confidence going into the game after recent excellent home displays, but a tactical masterclass from Jim Bentley on the day saw the Shrimps run out comfortable winners.
Jason Price opened the scoring before Lewis Alessandra sent Morecambe in 2-0 up at the break. A Lawrence Wilson penalty and a late Andy Fleming header completed the scoring for Morecambe.
This victory underlined the impressive start to the season that Morecambe had made away from home with it being their ninth game without a defeat on the road. This record would be extended to ten before losing in their eleventh game at Swindon.
1) Morecambe 6-0 Crawley Town – League 2 – 10th September
I don’t think there will be many that will argue with my choice of this game as the highlight of 2011 for Morecambe fans!
The hugely unpopular Steve Evans brought his expensively assembled team to The Globe Arena and was given a footballing lesson by Jim Bentley’s side.
Danny Carlton opened the scoring after nine minutes when he converted a Lawrence Wilson cross before Nick Fenton doubled the Shrimps lead with a close range header.
A cluster of goals in the final third of the game saw Morecambe go 5-0 up with Carlton scoring twice either side of a Kevin Ellison strike.
The scoring was completed through a Lawrence Wilson penalty after Gary McDonald was brought down in the area.
Shrimps fans were sent home happy having witnessed a demolition of one of the pre season favourites for the title and also saw their team sitting top of League Two.
*If a minor miracle occurs and we manage to pull off a convincing result against Accrington on Boxing Day then that result would no doubt be in this list!
Written by Mathew Seage, We Are Going Up’s Morecambe Blogger
Mathew tweets at @Seagie85