Derek Adams secured his first League Two victory as Morecambe manager as the Shrimps overturned a first half deficit to defeat Newport County AFC 2-1 at the Globe Arena.
In a true game of two halves, County dominated the opening 45 minutes and deservedly led through Joss Labadie before Morecambe battled back in the second half to take all three points through goals from Cole Stockton and John O’Sullivan.
Michael Flynn elected to make one change to the starting side which salvaged a draw deep into stoppage time thanks to Jamille Matt’s divine intervention against Stevenage at Rodney Parade.
Captain Labadie made a welcome return to the side having recovered from a hamstring injury and took the place of Matty Dolan, who went to the bench, as the Exiles lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation at the Globe Arena.
In a forward thinking formation, Taylor Maloney, Labadie and George Nurse all pushed further forward than usual to support strikers Padraig Amond and Jamille Matt.
That midfield base with Josh Sheehan sitting just behind to help the defence afforded the Exiles a solid platform to go and make things happen in the final third of the pitch in the inaugural 45 minutes.
In the first half, Maloney was sensational - as was every other player in all fairness but the right midfielder edged it for his dynamism and attitude to go forward - and you could go so far to say that he and Labadie dictated everything in the first half as County looked comfortable and bossed proceedings.
The official statistics read as County having 52.8% possession in the opening 45 minutes but it did feel like Morecambe had more of the ball, although they didn’t do anything with it as Townsend had a comfortable first half.
County were really insistent on pressing back the home team and it almost worked an absolute dream inside 23 seconds. Maloney pressed John O’Sullivan and nipped clear, he played in Amond who crossed for Matt but the header narrowly went past the front post.
Some of the play through midfield was superb, on 13 minutes Maloney and Sheehan worked the ball to good effect to release Danny McNamara, he provided the pinpoint delivery for Matt but Steven Old got a foot in to prevent a tap in.
It wasn’t too much longer until County broke the deadlock and it came right at the start of the 15th minute. Again there was some neat play in midfield before a cross into the area, it spilled out to Labadie who crashed it in off the underside of the crossbar - the linesman in no hesitation to award the goal despite frustration from the home side.
Video replays seen at half time showed the linesman was absolutely spot on in his decision as the ball looked a clear two yards over the line and it was nothing more than County deserved for an imperious start away from home.
County must have won 90% of the aerial duels in the first half - they were dominant in both boxes which both inhibited the home side and allowed them to create chances.
On 34 minutes, Amond's header down to Maloney had Morecambe retreating thinking he’d shoot, he was streetwise enough to take a touch and assess the options before picking out a peach of a pass for Matt but Mark Halstead made a smart save.
The second half was a completely different story as Morecambe made a double substitution and came out like a train - they didn’t have a shot on target first half but by the time 50 minutes had elapsed, Townsend had already made three saves to deny AJ Leitch-Smith.
Still Morecambe applied the pressure and Townsend had to make two unbelievable saves to keep County in-front. First he denied Carlos Mendes Gomes with a flying save which was tipped onto the crossbar then Leitch-Smith was denied from 25 yards.
Amond cleared one off the line shortly afterwards but it was only a matter of time before they found the target and substitute Stockton placed a perfect low shot into the bottom corner in about the only place where he could have beaten Townsend on 63 minutes.
Morecambe were really good in the second half and you couldn’t begrudge them for their performance as they completed the turnaround with ten minutes to play.
It was a goal of sheer quality it has to be said, five passes which split County apart in a free flowing move, Kevin Ellison - so often a thorn in the County side - played in O’Sullivan and he curled it into the bottom corner.
County tried to salvage a draw late on but it wasn’t to be as Morecambe successfully completed a comeback in a game of two halves.
Morecambe FC (4-2-3-1): Mark Halstead, George Tanner, Steven Old, Alex Kenyon (C), Luke Conlan, Aaron Wildig (Kevin Ellison 45’), Tom Brewitt, Carlos Mendez-Gomes (Cranston 90’), John O’Sullivan, Lewis Alessandra (Cole Stockton 45’), AJ Leitch-Smith
Subs not used: Da Silva Mendes, Buxton, Brownsword, Miller, Cranston
Newport County AFC (4-1-3-2): Nick Townsend, Danny McNamara, Mark O’Brien (Ryan Inniss 70’), Mickey Demetriou, Ryan Haynes, Josh Sheehan, Taylor Maloney (Scot Bennett 67’), Joss Labadie (C), George Nurse (Abrahams 71’), Padraig Amond, Jamille Matt
Subs not used: King, Dolan, Collins, Poleon
Referee: Paul Marsden
Attendance: 2,161 (91 AWAY)
Next up for County: Exeter City (26th December) AWAY