Morecambe keeper doesn’t want a similar season again

Morecambe celebrate their survival     Picture: B&O PRESS PHOTO
Morecambe celebrate their survival Picture: B&O PRESS PHOTO
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Morecambe keeper Barry Roche admits he doesn’t want to experience another season like the one just ended.

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The Shrimps avoided relegation out of League Two thanks to their final day draw at Coventry City.

The point was Morecambe’s 19th stalemate of the season and saw them edge out Barnet on goal difference despite their victory against bottom side Chesterfield.

Roche’s performance was arguably the main reason behind their point at the Ricoh Arena.

A hat-trick of excellent stops to deny Michael Doyle, Jonson Clarke-Harris and Tom Bayliss ultimately kept Jim Bentley’s players on level terms.

The best of the three was a stunning stop from Clarke-Harris’ close-range effort in the first half when most people inside the ground had expected to see the net bulge instead.

However, Roche did not understand the fuss as he explained afterwards amid the Morecambe players’ post-match celebrations.

“It was just a reaction save and it’s the kind of thing I do week in, week out with Jonesy (Lee Jones, goalkeeping coach),” he said.

“He prepares us for making saves like that but people might say ‘what a save’.

“But, if I get beaten with the height on the ball and where it’s going then I’m disappointed – but we’ve got a clean sheet which has been pleasing.

“Don’t get me wrong, this is the best feeling I’ve ever had on a football pitch but I never want to go through that again.

“Since we lost to Crewe, this is all I’ve been thinking about but that feeling at the end and the celebrations with the supporters – who were incredible – will live with me forever.”

Three wins in 21 games during 2018 were largely responsible for the Shrimps seemingly sleepwalking towards the relegation places.

That ramped up the pressure on Bentley, who has attracted criticism from a section of the club’s fanbase over the course of another difficult season.

A perceived preference for long ball football and negative tactics are two particular sticks with which the Shrimps’ manager has been beaten increasingly during his time in charge.

However, Roche believed the manager’s critics have been out of order given the well publicised difficulties Bentley faces on and off the field against sides with bigger crowds and bigger budgets as well as teams with better playing surfaces and their own training facilities.

“It’s something to be celebrated because we’ve been up against it all year and I know, at times, our form hasn’t been great,” he acknowledged.

“However, to come to a place like this and do a job like we did was pleasing.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I think a lot of the criticism has been unfair.

“What the gaffer does for this club and what he has to work against is unbelievable.

“You could see how much it meant to him at the end; everyone put their bodies on the line for him.”