DANNY Carlton fired Morecambe to their biggest ever Football League win – and to the top of League 2.
The Shrimps’ Wembley winner scored his first ever league hat-trick to stun a Crawley side who were literally hit for six by the super Shrimps.
Carlton grabbed the headlines and the match ball on a memorable afternoon for Jim Bentley’s side who took top spot on goal difference from Rotherham.
A delighted Carlton said: “I’ve scored two goals in a game a couple of times before but it is the first time I have scored three in the league and it feels amazing, particularly as it came against a side as good as Crawley.
“This was always going to be a really big game for us and to go top of the league feels really good. It’s been a fantastic start to the season and the lads have been terrific.
“There is an amazing team spirit here and competition for places all over the park so you always have to be on your toes.
“We could not have asked for a much better start to the season but it is very early days yet and there is a long way to go.”
In front of watching TV celebrity chefs the Hairy Bikers the Shrimps showed all the ingredients that have made them the surprise package of League 2 this season.
They defended superbly and broke with a pace and purpose that Morecambe fans have been crying out for a long time – and they totally shocked Steve Evans’ highly fancied side.
New signing Jason Price had the first effort after just eight seconds when Crawley messed up the kick off – and it didn’t get any better for the visitors from there as the Shrimps took the lead after just nine minutes.
Laurence Wilson swung in a cross from the left which Crawley defender Charlie Wassmer missed and Carlton was free at the far post to poke the ball past Michael Kuipers.
Crawley hit back with Tyrone Barnett heading David Hunt’s cross inches wide of the right hand post but that proved to be a mere irritant as the Shrimps added a second on 22 minutes.
Izak Reid delivered a superb free kick from the left and central defender Nick Fenton evaded his marker to head past Kuipers for his second goal of the season.
The Shrimps then went close to adding to their advantage with Reid drilling two efforts off target and Price also going close before Barnett hit the side netting in first half injury time after rounding Barry Roche.
Crawley’s players faced the full wrath of boss Evans at the break and they stepped up the pace without really causing any problems for the Shrimps who reasserted their authority with three goals in nine minutes to kill the game off.
Carlton made it 3-0 on 61 minutes from Price’s pinpoint cross and Kevin Ellison made it 4-0 with a close range finish after the excellent Gary McDonald’s header had hit the crossbar.
Carlton clinched his hat-trick on 70 minutes when Reid produced another excellent cross and the striker had time to pick his spot to beat Kuipers for a fifth time.
Reid could have capped off a fine display with a sixth goal but blazed over from close range before Laurence Wilson then joined in the party from the penalty spot after McDonald was brought down in the area by Josh Simpson.
Morecambe: Roche 8; Haining 8 (Parrish 82), McCready 8, Fenton 8, Wilson 8; Reid 8, Drummond 8, Ellison 8; Price 8 (Jevons 66), Carlton 9. Subs not used: Routledge (GK), Charnock, Hunter.
Crawley: Kuipers; Hunt, Wilson, Wassmer, Griffiths; Smith (Neilson 56), Torres (Doughty 64), Bulman, Simpson, Tubbs, Barnett. Subs not used: Akpan, Akinde, Shearer (GK).
Referee: R Lewis.