Morecambe boss Derek Adams hailed his side’s spirit and superb defending after maintaining their promotion push with a 1-0 victory over Cheltenham which saw the Robins drop to second in the League Two.
Liam McAlinden scored the only goal of the game against his former club in the 20th minute and despite Cheltenham’s best efforts, the home side held on to take a vital three points.
It was a win that delighted Adams, who said: “We had six players ruled out today and we had to make a few changes to the formation but the lads showed their spirit once again.
“We started the game really well and deservedly got ahead with a well-taken goal from Liam McAlinden and did well in the first half.
“But credit to Cheltenham as they came back strongly in the second period. We had to defend really well because they went a bit gung ho and piled bodies forward.
“They had a front five at times and got into some good openings and we produced some fantastic blocks and restricted them to very few openings, with our keeper making a couple of decent saves when he had to.
“We had a couple of chances to hit them on the counter-attack which we almost did on a couple of occasions but we held on for another clean sheet which was fantastic.’’
Morecambe started the game the better with McAlinden scoring the all-important opening goal. Liam Gibson’s header forward was flicked on and the striker took the ball in his stride before providing a fine low finish to beat Scott Flinders from 12 yards out.
The home side thought they had doubled their advantage five minutes later when John O’Sullivan turned sharply in the box to fire home an Aaron Wildig cross, only to see the effort ruled out for offside.
Cheltenham began to look a threat as the half came to a close with Lewis Freestone heading a Liam Sercombe cross over from close range and Sam Smith going close.
The Robins had much the better of the play in the second half and soon threatened with Kyle Letheran tipping over a Callum Wright effort.
Wright tested the keeper again from long range before the midfielder volleyed a Finn Azaz cross over at full stretch.
Cheltenham piled bodies forward at the death and went close in stoppage time when Smith fired inches wide after a smart turn and shot from the edge of the box.
Cheltenham boss Michael Duff said he was disappointed with the result but not the performance.
He said: “We had a poor start and the first 15 minutes wasn’t good enough but after that I thought we played well and created 20 chances and got into a lot of good positions but it just wouldn’t go in for us.
“We tweaked a few things at the break and we were definitely the better team after the break.
“We created enough chances the second half to win it but credit to Morecambe because they threw themselves in the way of everything, made it difficult and managed the game well.
“It’s disappointing to be off the top of the league but if we play like that we won’t be too far away. If you create as many chances as we did today in a game away from home you will more games than you lose.”