Morecambe kicked off their season with a memorable victory at Blackpool on Sunday. ADAM LORD was there as Jim Bentley’s side were roared into the Capital One Cup second round by a vocal travelling support.
THEY may have gone into the game as underdogs, but Sunday proved to be something of a tangerine dream for Morecambe FC.
Boss Jim Bentley hailed it a “special day” for the Shrimps after they dumped seaside neighbours Blackpool out of the Capital One Cup at Bloomfield Road in a game that on paper, should have only gone one way.
If Ian Holloway’s intentions for the newly-named league cup were unknown before kick-off they were crystal clear when he named a near enough full-strength side for the tie, featuring several names who played for the Seasiders when they were in the Premier League 18 months ago.
But goals from first Andy Fleming and then Lewis Alessandra sent the 1,071 travelling Shrimps, who young and old came complete with drums and flags, into raptures as they secured an unlikely upset to move into the second round.
It wasn’t plain sailing though and it took some heroic Shrimps defending, led by skipper Will Haining, to ensure that Bentley’s well-drilled charges turned over another side from a higher division in cup competition after previous victories over the likes of Preston and Wolves.
But this may just have been the best yet.
When referee Paul Tierney blew the final whistle it was the cue for the loudest noise of the day from the Shrimps fans who had out-sung their Blackpool counterparts all day and were only topped by the deafening sounds from the stars of the sea front air show, that soared over Bloomfield Road during the second half.
They weren’t enough dampen the chorus of Shrimps songs though, as fans ran through a repetoire that included all their classics, most joyously a pre-match rendition of Bring Me Sunshine, as well as a claim that the Polo Tower was far superior to the more celebrated Blackpool one.
Despite the slightly unusual timing of the game, with first round league cup ties usually reserved for the first Tuesday night of the season, there was no doubting what this game meant.
If Blackpool looked slightly under-cooked for the game in front of a disappointing crowd of just over 6,000, often misplacing a pass at the crucial moment, the Shrimps were sharp and expansive, not looking to sit back and hold on against their more fancied opponents.
With Alessandra’s goal the Shrimps fans dared to dream and Bentley’s side could have been further ahead despite a good spell from Blackpool before Fleming, seemingly the coolest man on the Fylde Coast, kept his nerve to score what turned out to be the winner ten minutes into the second half, despite Alex Baptiste pulling a goal back for the home side.
After the Shrimps survived four minutes of added on time, with Barry Roche pulling off one excellent save from Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Matt Phillips hitting a post to finally bring the Blackpool fans to life, it was left to Bentley to show what the result meant.
He conducted the obligatory handshakes with opposite number Holloway and his staff and players before making his way over to the corner of the ground that had been turned to a sea of red on what eventually turned into a sunny afternoon by the sea.
The legendary former number five then delivered his familiar fist pump, a sure sign for every Morecambe fan that it had been a good day for the club.
Not content with that, the Wembley winning skipper kissed the badge on his new, blue tracksuit, a gesture that in the day of modern-day footballing mercenaries is often frowned upon.
But coming from the man it did, you know that the last thing you can question is Jim Bentley’s love for Morecambe FC.
As amiable as you would expect after such a victory, the Shrimps boss paid tribute to the players and fans during his post-match media engagements and will be surely hoping they come together to make sure his side have as much success at the Globe Arena this season as they have done on recent away days.
One thing is for sure, as they prepare for their League 2 opener at Exeter this Saturday, Bentley will hope this most memorable of days can kick start an equally successful campaign.
Because as starts to the season go, this wasn’t half bad.
Full match report from Bloomfield Road HERE