Morecambe boss Derek Adams was “so proud” of his side after they reached their first ever Football League play-off final with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Tranmere.
Adams has taken the Shrimps from regular Sky Bet League Two strugglers to promotion contenders in 18 months and they held their nerve to stave off a strong second-half response from Rovers and book a trip to Wembley.
The Shrimps, who missed out on automatic promotion by one point on the final day of the season, took a vital lead through Aaron Wildig in only the ninth minute of the game and held on after James Vaughan pulled one back to make it 1-1 early in the second half.
Adams said: “We got the all-important first goal and it looked like we would go on and win the game convincingly. But Tranmere had other ideas and became much more direct and we had to deal with their threat.
“We dealt with it well overall and it is a tremendous win for us and a fantastic for the club to get through to the play-off final on aggregate.
“We were disappointed to miss out on the final day of the season but this is a just reward for the effort the lads have put in all season and I’m so proud of everyone at the club.”
Tranmere went close to taking the lead after eight minutes when Vaughan made space for himself in the box and headed a pinpoint cross from Liam Ridehalgh against the top of the Morecambe crossbar.
But Morecambe’s Liam McAlinden soon threaded a perfect pass through to Wildig, who took the ball in his stride and fired into the bottom right hand corner from 12 yards out.
The second half saw Tranmere caretaker boss Ian Dawes change his tactics, with the experienced David Nugent coming off the bench and making an immediate impression as he played a part in Tranmere’s leveller in the 53rd minute.
The former England striker headed down a Liam Feeney corner into the path of Vaughan, who bundled the ball home from close range.
Dawes said: “I’m angry. It’s something that we addressed going into the game about starting with desire, hunger and aggression and the players never did that.
“Morecambe wanted it more than us, especially in the first 20 to 25 minutes and by that stage we were behind and had to react to it. It was unacceptable.
“The minimum requirement to be a Tranmere Rovers player is to represent the fans. They want to see the players play for the shirt and the badge with hunger and desire, and I’ll be angry if I were the fans today watching, in the first 25 minutes in particular.
“We get the goal back and you think, ‘come on let’s lift it again’, but they managed the game better than we did then.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.