Morecambe 2019/20 season review: October brings a league victory as well as the end of an era
With a decision now made as to the starting date for the 2020/21 season – and Morecambe having been out of action since early March – we thought we’d take a month-by-month look back at 2019/20.
This week, we go back to October when a long-awaited victory was recorded but it also saw the end of an era...
Morecambe had gone into October looking for a win of any sort after six games without a victory in September.
The month started, as was the case in September, with an EFL Trophy group stage tie.
Wolves’ youngsters made the trip to the Globe Arena and left with victory on penalties following a 2-2 draw.
The Shrimps came from behind twice in a game that burst into life with three goals in six minutes midway through the first half.
Elliot Watt’s free-kick gave Wolves a 23rd minute lead, only for Morecambe to level within a minute when Tom Brewitt netted after Jordan Cranston’s shot was saved.
However, Austin Samuels re-established Wolves’ lead just before the half-hour.
Morecambe dominated the opening periods of the second half and were unlucky not to pull a goal back just before the hour when Cole Stockton’s 25-yarder came back off the underside of the bar.
An offside flag thwarted Rhys Oates but the Shrimps levelled late on when George Tanner struck the woodwork and Michael Howard netted the rebound.
The penalty shootout started well for the Shrimps with Cranston, Steven Old, Adam Buxton and John O’Sullivan scoring before Howard and Carlos Mendes-Gomes missed their spot-kicks to give Wolves the extra point.
Four days later and Jim Bentley’s players travelled to Port Vale where they were beaten 3-1.
Cranston’s red card on 32 minutes proved pivotal as the Shrimps had led when he took a needless kick at an opponent and was dismissed.
Morecambe had led through a stunning effort from O’Sullivan, who gave the keeper no chance with a curling effort into the top corner.
Following Cranston’s red card, though, they were forced to defend in numbers but still led at the break.
That resistance was broken almost immediately after the break when a corner found its way to Luke Joyce on the edge of the box and he sent a volley into the top corner.
Port Vale laid siege to the Morecambe goal and took the lead on 68 minutes when Tom Pope headed past Barry Roche.
Pope wrapped up victory late on, sliding the ball home after Buxton’s clearance was blocked.
There was no let-up a week later as Morecambe’s 2-1 loss to Bradford City was their eighth in 13 league games and saw them drop to the foot of League Two.
Clayton Donaldson missed the best chance in a goalless first half but the deadlock was broken just after half-time.
Buxton lost possession deep inside the Bantams’ half, and with the full-back stranded upfield, Dylan Connolly was able to sprint clear and find Hope Akpan, whose shot went through the legs of the retreating Old.
Morecambe could have levelled when Sam Lavelle met Lewis Alessandra’s corner, only for Anthony O’Connor to clear off the line and Kevin Ellison to head the loose ball against the bar.
Bradford doubled their lead on 78 minutes when Old’s weak header away was seized upon by the visitors with the ball eventually worked out to Aramide Oteh, who fired across Roche and inside the keeper’s left-hand post.
The Shrimps’ heads didn’t drop as Stockton saw a shot tipped onto the post before sending the rebound across goal and inches wide.
Brewitt halved the deficit in the third of four added minutes but it was too little and far too late for the Shrimps.
Seven days later, however, and a second win of the season finally arrived with a 1-0 victory at Colchester United.
Colchester looked the more threatening in the early stages with Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu seeing an effort blocked before Frank Nouble forced Roche into a great save.
Colchester keeper Dean Gerken had to make two good saves, palming out a Stockton effort before superbly tipping away a near post shot from Alessandra.
The Shrimps continued to ask questions in the second half with Gerken denying Stockton and Lavelle before they took the lead on 66 minutes.
Alessandra whipped in a near post cross and Stockton got away from his marker to head past Gerken from eight yards out as the ball took a deflection past the keeper.
The Shrimps were then forced to defend valiantly as Colchester produced late pressure.
Roche produced a flying save to tip away Courtney Senior’s left-footed drive before Luke Conlan made a superb close-range block to deny Luke Norris in added time.
Any positive feelings disappeared three days later though as Morecambe were beaten 2-0 at home by Forest Green Rovers.
An even 45 minutes saw the game goalless at half-time, Alessandra coming closest for Morecambe with a shot cleared off the line.
However, the visitors went through the gears in the second half with Morecambe unable to do much more than clear the ball and invite pressure back upon themselves.
They had a slice of luck just before the hour when Old seemed to bundle over Matty Stevens inside the area, only for play to be waved on.
The visitors opened the scoring with 15 minutes left when Jack Aitchison’s shot deflected off Tanner and completely wrongfooted Roche.
Old lashed wildly off target from six yards before Alessandra was sent off late on for a second yellow card.
Further salt was rubbed into the Shrimps’ wound in the last of four added minutes when Liam Shephard’s fierce finish gave Roche no chance.
It meant the last game of the month at Stevenage was a battle of the bottom two – and one which Morecambe lost 1-0.
A scrappy game saw Stevenage look the more threatening early on with Kelland Watts heading straight at Roche before seeing a volley cleared off the line by Alex Kenyon.
Shaun Miller was played in on goal, only to be denied by keeper Sacha Bastien, before a contentious offside decision ruled out Stockton’s goal.
Stevenage began to forge some openings in the final quarter with Roche making a brilliant save from Charlie Carter on 80 minutes.
He was powerless two minutes later as Scott Cuthbert met Carter’s corner and saw his header go through a crowd of bodies on the line.
Cranston went agonisingly close to an injury-time leveller but defeat sent Morecambe back to the foot of the table.
Then, after a weekend of rumour and counter-rumour, confirmation came through on the last Monday of the month.
Bentley’s 17-and-a-half-year, 763-game stay as player and manager was over as he resigned to take the vacant managerial role at AFC Fylde, leaving along with assistant boss, Ken McKenna, and goalkeeping coach, Lee Jones.
Ellison and Roche were asked to take temporary charge, supported by John McMahon, as the club sought only its fourth manager in 25 years.
Next week: Caretaker bosses have an immediate impact before Bentley’s successor is unveiled...