Derek Adams saluted his “outstanding” Morecambe side after JJ McKiernan’s hat-trick secured them a deserved 3-1 win at Colchester, despite playing for more than an hour with 10 men.
McKiernan headed home Adam Mayor’s 21st-minute corner to give Morecambe the lead but the visitors had James Connolly sent off in the 36th minute after the defender appeared to leave a boot in on Samson Tovide.
McKiernan stabbed home from close range in the 53rd minute after Yann Songo’o had helped on Mayor’s corner and completed his hat-trick in the 61st minute when he collected Donald Love’s pass and ran almost the length of the Colchester half before firing past Owen Goodman.
Adams said: “The performance was outstanding and we opened up Colchester so many times and had so many opportunities on goal.
“The way we passed it, the way we pressed them, the way we allowed their goalkeeper to come to 30 yards out and not affect us and the way we picked them off.
“We hit the post, we made their goalkeeper make saves, we missed chances and then there was the sending off.
“We were already 1-0 up at that time and we had to make two substitutions and take (Jordan) Slew and (Tom) Bloxham off, two of our best players.
“So it was a big shuffle up at that stage and we then got into half-time and kicked on in the second half.
“The goals that JJ scored today to get a hat-trick were excellent.
“He has really found form and found a position that really suits him in the side.”
Colchester bagged a consolation from Cameron McGeehan’s 73rd-minute header following Brad Ihionvien’s assist and Noah Chilvers blazed a stoppage-time penalty over for the hosts, after Songo’o had handled Ihionvien’s shot in the area.
Colchester boss Ben Garner said: “It wasn’t good enough, frankly. Right from the start of the game, we were second best.
“We weren’t competitive, we weren’t intense, people not doing their jobs, people not doing their jobs off a set-piece cost us a goal.
“They then get the red card and we finish the first half well and then in the second half, we don’t do what we spoke about doing at half-time.
“The players want to go and do their own thing and so the team shape goes and we let two really poor goals in and gave ourselves a mountain to climb.
“I apologise to the supporters as it was nowhere near good enough. It’s a million miles away from where it should be but we’ve all seen how good it can be and how good it has been.
“It’s very frustrating that there’s no level of consistency or minimum standard.”