Match Report: Morecambe 2-0 Walsall, Johnstones Paint Trophy Round 1.
Morecambe produced another excellent performance to move into the second round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy after overcoming last year's beaten finalists Walsall.
Two superb second-half finishes from Jamie Devitt and Tom Barkuizen saw The Shrimps into round two at the expense of Dean Smith's side who had won their last six games.
The win was all the more special as the Shrimps lost Andy Parrish in the pre match warm-up, the second game in succession that a player had suffered an injury even before a ball was kicked.
It was a lively start from both sides, Roche helping over James Baxendale’s shot from 20 yards in the first real chance for either side and Jack Ryan, making his first Shrimps' start only denied a run on goal by an excellent covering tackle from James O'Connor.
The game was low on clear-cut openings but there was no lack of decent football from both sides as they attacked well but just struggled to find the killer final ball.
Roche was needed to beat away a 20-yard shot from highly-rated front man Tom Bradshaw on the half hour.
But the Shrimps always looked dangerous on the counter attack and Jamie Devitt’s shot from a tight angle was well saved saved by Craig MacGillivray before Ryan headed over the resultant corner on his first Shrimps start.
At the other end Kieron Morris brought a low save from Roche on 35 minutes before the Shrimps stopper had to parry Milan Lalkovic’s cross over the bar as the League 1 high-fliers pressed without reward.
The Saddlers’ best chance came right at the end of the opening period with captain Adam Chambers firing wide after a one-two with Bradshaw had released him in on goal.
It was aq amiss that he was made to regret.
The Shrimps were first to go close after the break, a fine Paul Mullin curler from 20 yards after driving in from the left landing on the roof of the net.
But the second half followed a similar pattern to the first. Roche was grateful that Bradshaw’s effort from close range landed in his arms as the Saddlers front man deflected a Lalkovic shot goalwards.
Against the run of the play The Shrimps went in front on 57 minutes however. A deep cross landed at the feet of Devitt on the left-side of the area and he sent a delightful strike in off the far post.
The goal prompted visiting boss Smith to make a triple change with one of the new faces Anthony Forde immediately testing Roche with two stinging efforts.
But Morecambe got the game’s next goal, doubling their lead on 72 minutes. Barkhuizen used his blistering pace on the counter down the right to break into the area and hammer in a fine finish across MacGillivray.
It was nearly even better for The Shrimps two minutes later with Barkhuizen crashing an effort off the bar with Devitt’s rebound dragged narrowly wide.
The game was far from over as a contest however and Walsall kept coming as they looked to equal a club record for consecutive wins.
Bradshaw was the main threat, turning well in the area 10 minutes from time and seeing his effort beaten away by the legs of Roche.
The visitors were increasingly leaving themselves open at the back however, Barkhuizen seeing a diving header go inches wide on 84 minutes.
Forde kept peppering Roche’s goal at the other end, firing narrowly wide before seeing a free-kick come back of the bar.
As the game came to a close the Shrimps brought on Nathan Bondswell for his first appearance to join Charlie Bailey and the two worked hard to keep the visitors out as the Shrimps held on for a memorable win.
Morecambe: Roche, McGowan, Parrish, Dugdale (capt), Molyneux, Kenyon (Bailey 72), Goodall, Barkhuizen (Bondswell 90), Fleming, Mullin, Ryan (Miller 68). Subs not used: O’Hara, Devitt.
Walsall: MacGillivray, Kinsella, O’Connor, Preston, Taylor, Chambers (capt), Morris (Forde 65), Mantom, Baxendale (Sawyers 65), Lalkovic (Cook 65), Bradshaw. Subs not used: Jezeph, Downing.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge
Attendance: 1,332 (322 away)