Morecambe kept up their perfect start to the new League 2 season with a hard-fought win over Oxford United at the Globe Arena on Tuesday night.
The Shrimps were on the back foot for large periods and they survived a late penalty appeal but Kevin Ellison’s first half header, his fourth goal of the season, was enough for a victory that kept them top of the table.
Oxford will feel they should have picked up their first point of the season but they had a luckless evening as the Shrimps made it three wins from three with their first ever home victory over the U’s.
In an even opening, the visitors had the first sight of goal four minutes in but Barry Roche easily dealt with former Fleetwood man Junior Brown’s shot from 25 yards.
At the other end, Alex Kenyon saw one effort from distance go out for a throw in before finding his radar with a 20-yard snap shot that was parried away by U’s stopper George Long on the quarter hour.
But it was Oxford who looked the more likely to score as the Shrimps made another sluggish start.
Danny Hylton met Joe Riley’s right-wing cross midway through the half but his bullet header from 12 yards was tipped over by Roche.
From the resultant corner Hylton saw another header cleared off the line by Andy Fleming with Tom Newey blasting over a volley from the edge of the area as the ball broke free.
After the Shrimps had survived the frantic couple of minutes, Kevin Ellison headed over a Jamie Devitt free-kick as they grew into the game.
Fleming then saw a volley from 30 yards go wide of Long’s right-hand post on 35 minutes before the Shrimps went ahead five minutes later.
Jack Redshaw, fresh from turning down a move to Peterborough, cut in from the left and saw his shot to the far post palmed by Long onto the diving head of Ellison who squeezed the ball inside the post to give Bentley’s side the lead.
The Shrimps nearly made it 2-0 shortly afterwards, the ball breaking to Redshaw eight yards out with his drilled shot clipping the top of the bar.
Oxford weren’t done in the opening period however, Riley seeing a shot through a host of bodies from 20 yards initially spilled by Roche before the Shrimps ‘keeper clung on at the second attempt.
And it was the visitors who had the first sight of goal in the second half, Newey drilling a shot from the left-corner of the area across the face of goal and wide.
Like the first half, Morecambe made a slow start and skipper Mark Hughes was nearly made to pay for a silly foul 10 minutes after the break with Danny Rose crashing a 25-yard free-kick off the crossbar.
The Shrimps again conceded plenty of possession to the visitors but did have a sight of goal shortly before the hour mark, Devitt’s drilled shot from 18 yards unconvincingly parried wide by Long.
But the Shrimps were well below par and invited Oxford pressure, Andy Parrish’s diving block preventing a Carlton Morris shot testing Roche on 63 minutes after a fine move.
The visitors were then furious 12 minutes from time when Hylton went down under a challenge from Roche in the area as he capitalised on a miscued back header from Hughes and was booked for diving by referee Tony Harrington when Oxford felt they should have had a penalty.
Hylton’s frustrating evening continued when he hit the side netting five minutes from time with some visiting fans thinking the ball had gone in. It was an effort that broke the netting requiring a late stoppage in play.
Seven nervous minutes of added time later the Shrimps held on for just their second win in 12 games against Oxford.
Morecambe: Roche, Beeley, Hughes (capt), Parrish, Wilson, Goodall, Kenyon (Mullin 67), Fleming, Devitt (Wright 82), Redshaw (Sampson 67), Ellison. Subs not used: Arestidou, Williams, Doyle, Amond.
Oxford United: Long, Riley, Mullins, Wright (capt), Newey, Ruffels, Collins, Hylton, Rose (O’Dowda 82), Brown (Potter 82), Morris (Jakubiak 70). Subs not used: Crocombe, Meads, Raynes, Hunt.
Attendance: 1,615 (176 away)
Referee: Tony Harrington