Ellison seals late late win
Kevin Ellison’s last minute header earned Morecambe their first win in seven games as they defeated promotion-chasing Rotherham at the Globe Arena.
Robbie Threlfall had given the Shrimps the lead with his first goal for the club, but striker Alex Revell equalised for the Millers before they saw captain Johnny Mullins sent off.
The win keeps Jim Bentley’s side in 14th place, but an eighth home win of the season moves them nine points clear of the relegation zone with three games to play.
Bentley made three changes to the side which lost 1-0 against Wycombe on Monday, with Barry Roche, Gary McDonald and Andy Parrish returning to the starting line-up, while Andreas Arestidou, Ryan Williams and Jordan Burrow dropped to the bench.
The Shrimps reverted to a more familiar 4-3-3 formation for the visit of the Millers, with Andy Wright moving forward into an unfamiliar attacking role.
Just like on Monday the home crowd witnessed a slow start to proceedings, with both sides failing to gain control of possession on a bobbly Globe Arena pitch.
The visitors – who are targeting a play-off finish this season – sent more bodies forward in search of the opening goal however and they had appeals for a penalty turned down after a strong challenge on Kieran Agard.
Incensed by that decision the Millers continued to push forward and Ben Pringle thought he had given the visitors the lead after 25 minutes, but his scuffed shot was blocked on the line by Will Haining.
Winger Lionel Ainsworth then tried his luck from 25 yards but his powerful shot brushed the roof of the net, before Chris McCready made a vital intervention to divert Mark Bradley’s cross away from the dangerous Revell.
Despite that pressure from the visitors Roche was untested in the Morecambe goal and the Shrimps came close to taking the lead with their first effort on goal.
Jack Redshaw did well to keep the ball in play and after twisting inside the box, his powerful strike was tipped over the bar by Millers’ keeper Scott Shearer, as the sides went in level after an uneventful first-half.
The attacking spark that was absent from the first-half soon appeared after the break but it was the visitors who looked the more dangerous side once again.
A low driven strike from Revell was comfortably held by Roche, before Agard should have opened the scoring after outpacing the Morecambe defence but he lashed his shot high over the bar.
With the home fans growing disgruntled at a lack of creativity in the final third, they were soon on their feet as the Shrimps took the lead against the run of play.
After Andy Fleming was tripped on the edge of the box, Threlfall stepped up to curl the resulting free-kick around the Rotherham wall which flashed past Shearer into the bottom left corner.
Full of confidence, the Shrimps went forward in search of a second and Shearer had to be alert to hold onto Fleming’s curled effort.
The visitors were not rattled by those chances though and they found themselves level just seven minutes later.
After Ainsworth found himself free on the edge of the Morecambe box he unleashed a low shot, which deflected off the legs of Revell and wrong footed Roche in the Morecambe goal to the joy of the Rotherham fans.
With the game now flowing with chances at both ends, Stewart Drummond headed inches wide from a Fleming free-kick, before the visitors were reduced to ten men.
Wright gambled on a mistake and after bursting through the Millers defence he was cynically brought down by Mullins who was given his marching orders.
From the resulting free-kick, Threlfall again went close but his powerful effort flew narrowly over the Rotherham bar.
Bentley brought on Lewis Alessandra as he sensed a second goal and the winger soon found space on the edge of the area, but his side-footed effort was pushed aside by Shearer.
The home side continued to take advantage of their extra man and after Shearer held Redshaw’s low drive, he could do nothing to prevent Morecambe from taking the lead.
Alessandra beat his man on the wing, before delivering an inch perfect cross into the centre which was met by former Rotherham winger Ellison, who diverted his header into the top left corner to the delight of the home fans.
Rotherham sent men forward in an attempt to rescue a point, but the Morecambe defence stood firm to hold on for a vital three points.
Morecambe: Roche; Parrish (Alessandra 73), McCready, Haining, Threlfall; Drummond, Fleming, McDonald; Wright, Redshaw, Ellison.
Unused subs: Arestidou, Doyle, Mwasile, Williams, Burrow, Holroyd.
Rotherham: Shearer; Bradley (Tonge 75), Mullins, Morgan, Skarz; Ainsworth, O’Connor, Arnason, Agard; Pringle; Revell (Odejayi 81).
Unused subs: Warrington, Nardiello, Noble, Kearns.
Referee: P Gibbs