Bentley: Relegation battle will make us stronger

The Morecambe bench looks on against AFC Wimbledon.

The Morecambe bench looks on against AFC Wimbledon.

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Jim Bentley believes coming through his biggest test as a manager can only make him and his Morecambe players stronger in the future.

The Shrimps produced one of their best away performances of the season to win 3-0 at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday to secure their League 2 status for another season.

Bentley is now targeting a final day victory over Bury on Saturday which would match last season’s points total of 56 which would be an “unbelievable achievement” according to the Morecambe boss.

He said: “It’s been the biggest test I’ve had as a manager.

“We’ve had to make cutbacks, had a relatively small squad and been stretched for bodies.

“I believe we’ve had hard luck this season too. Officials haven’t been great for us and we’ve had injury problems.

“But you can’t use that as an excuse. You’ve got to keep digging in and it’s been by far the hardest season.

“It’s been really difficult, certainly the last three or four weeks.

“I’ve been a nightmare to live with. It takes its toll, your whole life is taken over.

“But I’m at the head of the ship. Every day I’ve come in I’ve remained positive, I’ve remained upbeat and I’ve got the lads going.

“It was nice that a few of them said after the game on Saturday ‘that was for you’.

“I’ll take a lot from it. We’ve got another game next week and I’m already thinking about that and if we win that we can finish on the same total as last year which would be an unbelievable achievement for us.”

Bentley believes his side have often come out on the wrong side of tight games during a disastrous run of form in 2014.

The Shrimps had only won two of 21 before Saturday’s win as they slid alarming down the League 2 table.

But Bentley insisted he has confidence in the players he has at his disposal as he starts looking ahead to next season. 
He said: “There’s a fine dividing line between winning and losing games of football.

“We’ve had blips like Accrington and Plymouth but the majority of the games have been a goal here or there.

“But we’ve got to learn from that, especially in games like Bristol Rovers where we just lacked a bit of know-how, and I do believe in the players we’ve got.

“We’ve got a lot of young players who will only get better and they’ll learn from this experience and get better next season.”