Morecambe boss Jim Bentley hails week to remember after Portsmouth win

Jim Bentley. Picture: Matt Rushton
Jim Bentley. Picture: Matt Rushton

Nine goals, three wins and a first clean sheet of the season; Morecambe manager Jim Bentley admitted he’d endured worse weeks following Tuesday’s defeat of Portsmouth.

A 2-0 win over Pompey in midweek made it back-to-back league victories following Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Blackpool and the 5-4 League Cup success at Rotherham United.

First-half goals from Ryan Edwards and Tom Barkhuizen, followed by a man-of-the-match display from keeper Barry Roche in the second 45 minutes, saw the Shrimps lay down a marker against a Pompey side Bentley had tipped to win League Two.

“A massive win but it’s been a great week for us,” Bentley said afterwards.

“It’s important we keep our feet on the ground; I’ve said before Portsmouth are the favourites – unbelievable players and I have a lot of time for their management and staff.

“We’d gone into the game confident after the last two games and we had everything to gain.

“We knew how the game was going to go and I thought we defended well when we needed to.

“We could have scored more than the couple we did; certainly first half we got into good areas, the keeper’s made a save and Tom hit the side netting.

“It was all hands to the pump second half. We changed the formation slightly and brought on Alex Kenyon to stiffen it up a bit.

“Paul Mullin had a great chance to make it three but, all in all, what a fantastic night and a great three points.”

Bentley had made two changes from the side victorious against Blackpool at the weekend.

Out went Kenyon and Lee Molyneux with Andrew Fleming and Kevin Ellison restored to the starting XI.

Those changes didn’t have an undue effect on the Shrimps’ performance as, from the first minute, they hustled and harried their opponents.

That hard work was coupled with some excellent football which meant the Shrimps were full value for their two-goal lead at the break.

In contrast, the second half was a case of working hard against a Portsmouth side which piled pressure on the Shrimps’ backline.

The back four of Edwards, Liam Wakefield, Alex Whitmore and Luke Conlan all performed manfully.

When the visitors did get through, they found Roche in inspired form.

He produced a number of excellent stops to deny Carl Baker, Curtis Main and Christian Burgess, to be a worthy man-of-the-match.

“I left a couple out for the right reasons and the two who came in were chomping at the bit,” Bentley said.

“The 11 that started and the subs that came on all worked hard; you have to fight, battle, scrap and do all the ugly things if you want points.

“We know we can play better with the ball but our counter-attacking was fantastic again.

“We had to dig, be positive, back each other up and put our bodies on the line.

“The back four seem to be growing in consistency but special mention has to go to Barry Roche; it looked like he pulled off some fantastic saves from where we were stood.

“We want them to battle, work hard and do their jobs – and that’s what they did.”