With quarter of the League Two season gone, D3D4 looks at how The Shrimps have started the new campaign…
With all the problems that faced Jim Bentley last season it was only natural that expectation levels would not be sky high at the Globe Arena at the start of this campaign. There was always going to be a tight budget for Bentley to work with but one thing he did have in his favour was a settled squad. Players like Ellison, Wildig and Roche were all players that had plenty of experience, add to that the new signings of Vadaine Oliver, a big target man from York, Patrick Brough, a defender from Carlisle and the return of club legend Garry Thompson and you could see that Morecambe had all the pieces necessary to be competitive in League Two.
They started with a dramatic 2-1 home win against Cheltenham and it was that man, Gary Thompson, who took the plaudits thanks to a 91st minute winner following his second half equaliser to take the points. Next up was Lincoln City who were back in to the EFL following a stellar campaign the season before. Many expected the Imps to dominate the Shrimps but an inspired performance from Roche and a classy Wildig finish saw Morecambe grab an unlikely point.
One thing that was clear from the opening couple of games was Morecambe were going to be tough to beat but not free scoring. What followed proves this point as a 1-0 defeat to Swindon, thanks to an early Donal McDermott goal was enough for The Robins to take the points back to Wiltshire, followed by a battling 0-0 draw at Cambridge to see out August.
A busy September started with the Shrimps losing 2-1 in the local derby against Accrington with Kevin Ellison grabbing his first of the season, the first of seven games in the month. Another defeat without scoring followed at high flying Notts County before a battling performance saw Morecambe claw back a 2 goal deficit to draw 2-2 away at Yeovil.
Ellison scored twice in the 2-1 win back home against Newport to give Bentley a much needed win but defeat to Stevenage followed before a back to the wall 0-0 at home to Luton. A tricky month ended in a heavy 4-1 defeat against a table topping Exeter leaving Morecambe with just 10 points from the first 11 matches.
October started no better as Crawley won 1-0 at the Globe thanks to a goal straight from a corner as Ellison was controversially sent off for an apparent off the ball incident. The month of October could define the Shrimps season as they play the bottom three teams, two of them away as well as a Grimsby side that have been uninspiring thus far. Whether Jim Bentley’s side have enough goals in them to avoid the drop this season remains to be seen but with the exception of Exeter away they haven’t conceded more than two goals in any game and have only conceded 17 times, which is less than 4th placed Wycombe. It is scoring that remains the issue with only 10 goals so far and Kevin Ellison has bagged four of those. Bentley will be hoping that it will be a Red Red October for Morecambe,
Garry Thompson has been excellent this season and his drive, determination and energy are a great example to those around him. Kevin Ellison has been his usually prolific self and his goals could decide the outcome of the Shrimps season.
Most surprising player?
Vadaine Oliver has done well coming in from non-league York City. He is big, strong and causes all sorts of problems for League Two defenders. Patrick Brough has also looked good and has gone some way to making up for the loss of Ryan Edwards in the summer.
Performance against expectations?
Morecambe were not expected to be challenging at the top end of the table but a lack of goals and some poor results at home will be particularly disappointing for the fans. The club have announced that former co-chairman Abdulrahman Al Hashemi has given the EFL funding assurances for the next two years but the club remain up for sale and crowds have been lower than many would have liked. Like I said the next four games could be crucial as to the outcome of this season for Morecambe but they are a side that can never be written off.
words James Richards