Date: 9th August 2016 at 10:31pm
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Morecambe visited the New York Stadium on Tuesday night to face Rotherham United in the first round of the EFL Cup. Under newly arrived ex-Hibernian Manager Alan Stubbs, United managed to draw 2-2 against Wolves at home in the Championship in their opening game of the season last Saturday. Further south in Lincolnshire at the same time, Morecambe continued their dismal run of results during 2016 with a 2-0 loss against Grimsby, themselves newly-returned from the non-league wilderness.

Both sides were forced into changes after injuries during their first League games of the season. For the Millers, Lee Frecklington, Joe Mattock plus Kirk Broadfoot – and for Morecambe Aaron Wildig – were all unavailable for the game.

Cole Stockton had the first decent chance for the visitors after four minutes but his attempt was blocked by Kelvin Wilson. Presented with a second chance just a couple of minutes later, though, Stockton beat home keeper Lewis Price from within the penalty area with a sharp shot to put Jim Bentley`s Shrimps into what for many was a shock lead: Rotherham are two divisions ahead of them after all.

Jon Taylor came nearest to equalising for the hosts early on when his fierce long-range shot after 14 minutes beat Barry Roche in the Morecambe goal but crashed back into play off the crossbar. The game progressed from end to end but the next good chance fell to the visitors when Paul Mullin made progress into the Rotherham box after about half an hour but chose to shoot instead of passing to a better-placed Tom Barkhuizen. The game continued to provide chances for both sides but the visitors ended-up on top in the first half with Price making an outstanding save from Barkhuizen at his near post as the striker bore down on him unchallenged in the final minute: the Millers` keeper had thwarted the same player with a good save from the same player only a minute earlier.

Half time Millers` substitute Richard Wood survived just six minutes of the second period before he was booked for a foul on Paul Mullin. Then Price came to Rotherham`s rescue again a minute later when he won the latest chapter in his duel with Barkhuizen only for Stockton to blast the ball well over the bar with the goal gaping from the rebound caused by the goalkeeper`s block. This miss arguably could have proved crucial given that Ryan Edwards was adjudged to have fouled Will Halford in the penalty area after 59 minutes by referee Seb Stockbridge and United`s Captain Halford himself controversially equalised from the spot. But the Championship team didn`t seize the initiative and Jim Bentley pulled off what proved to be a master stroke when he substituted Mullin a few minutes later and replaced him with young Liverpool loanee Jack Dunn. Virtually his first contribution to the match was to put the visitors ahead again when he lashed home a cross from Luke Conlan which the Millers` defence failed to clear. But Rotherham continued to press and the perennial problem their opponents have suffered from for literally months – appalling defending – came home to haunt them again. First of all, Jerry Yates scored his first ever goal for the Millers after 81 minutes with an excellent left-footed shot past Roche. And almost straight from kick-off, United scored again: substitute Anthony Forde beat the Morecambe goalkeeper for a third time from an acute angle. But still the Shrimps didn`t lie down and die. Big Jim sent on Kevin Ellison and Andy Fleming with less than four minutes scheduled to play. The re-shaped team threw the kitchen sink at the home side and forced further excellent saves from the outstanding Price. But in injury time, Dunn was fouled by Wood in the penalty area. The United defender – who had already been booked – should have been dismissed. But he wasn`t. The Liverpool Under-21 player on the receiving end of Wood`s attentions picked himself up, however – and slammed the ball into the net. So it was 3-3 at full time.

Extra time duly followed and it was goalless at the end of the first period. But Kevin Ellison – pictured on the front cover of tonight`s programme as an ex-Millers` player – was in the right place at the right time after one hundred and thirteen minutes to steer the ball past Lewis Price from the centre of the box and put the Shrimps ahead for the third time. He wasn`t finished then – five minutes later, he set-up Dunn to complete his hat-trick with a superb pass to put the Shrimps 3-5 up. But still, the match wasn`t won: two minutes after this – with Morecambe`s defence yet again Absent Without Leave – Jerry Yates gave United hope with a shot which beat Barry Roche and reduced the deficit to just one goal. But the visitors held out; Dunn took the match ball home with him and the Shrimps marched on into the second round of the EFL Cup.

The Morecambe Manager`s Mantra so far this season is that his squad are young and will have to learn quickly. Tonight`s result will be at the steepest part of this learning curve. Few people gave the Shrimps any chance before the game yet Jim Bentley`s team gave a team supposedly far superior to them a real run for their money and were deserved winners at the end. If they continue with this level of skill – and particularly the never-say-die spirit they showed tonight – they will cause even more upsets this season in all competitions. Well done Morecambe. Well done Big Jim.

Rotherham United: 12 Lewis Price; 4 Will Halford (C); 16 Kelvin Wilson (6 Richard Wood 45 minutes (Y); 40 Mason Warren; 21 Scott Allan (7 Anthony Forde 76 mins); 33 Richie Smallwood; 4 Will Vaulks; 10 Jake Forster-Caskey (9 Danny Ward 63 mins); 11 Jon Taylor; 39 Jerry Yates; 40 Mason Warren.
Unused Subs: 1 Lee Camp; 2 Stephen Kelly; 42 Darnelle Bailey-Hill; 45 Kuda Muskwe.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Liam Wakefield (Y); 4 Alex Kenyon (17 Andy Fleming 87 mins); 5 Ryan Edwards (Y); 7 Paul Mullin (20 Jack Dunn 63 mins); 9 Tom Barkhuizen; 10 Lee Molyneux; 14 Luke Conlan; 16 Alex Whitmore; 23 Cole Stockton (11 Kevin Ellison 88 mins); 24 Michael Rose (C).
Unused Subs: Danijel Nizic; 3 Aaron McGowan.
Ref: Seb Stockbridge