By Tony Leighton
League 2 side Morecambe should have no reason to suffer from an inferiority complex when they visit Championship outfit Nottingham Forest for their first round Carling Cup tie on Wednesday evening.
Forest may be four times winners of the competition and they will certainly be hot favourites to progress into Round Two, but if they underestimate the Shrimps they will do so at their peril after the Carling Cup exploits of Sammy McIlroy's team last season.
Belying that 'Shrimps' nickname, Morecambe knocked out first Preston North End and then Wolverhampton Wanderers before succumbing to another Championship side, Sheffield United, in Round Three.
That was some going in their first season as a Football League club, a season of far more than consolidation as they also reached the Area Final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and finished 11th in the League 2 table.
Manager McIlroy says: "It was a very pleasing season for us, set up nicely by the two wins we had in the Carling Cup. Those results were a massive boost for everybody at the club and certainly helped in terms of confidence that we could stay in the League.
"After coming out of the Conference through the Play-Offs our main aim was not to get relegated, and that wasn't being negative - we wanted to ensure survival first and then hopefully establish ourselves as a Football League club.
"But when we beat Preston and then Wolves, expectations went sky-high and we were being tipped for this and tipped for that. But I told the lads, 'enjoy your bit of glory,' and insisted everybody kept their feet firmly on the ground.
"We did that and in the end had what I thought was a very good season. Now we've started the new one with a good League result at Wycombe (the Shrimps held Wanderers to a 1-1 draw) and we're really looking forward to the Cup game at Forest.
"We'll obviously be underdogs against a Championship side at their great stadium, but we'll go there with no fear and aiming to put on a show. A number of my players have never been to stadium like the City Ground, so it's going to be a big night for us."