A host of second half Tranmere Rovers U18s missed chances prevented a remarkable comeback as Morecambe ran out 3-2 winners in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup.
The Shrimps raced into a three-goal lead inside the first 20 minutes at The Campus. Jacob Walton struck home from the penalty spot to reduce the deficit before the break.
Jake Burton grabbed another back for Rovers in the second period which proved to be the last goal in a five-goal thriller.
After an even start to the match in tough conditions, the visitors were awarded a penalty just five minutes in when Morecambe’s striker was sandwiched between two Tranmere players in the area. The spot kick was placed coolly into the corner, sending Joe Bickerstaffe the wrong way in the Rovers net.
George Nugent showed great trickery on the wing to work a shooting angle soon after, but his effort was hit straight at the Morecambe keeper.
With 17 minutes on the clock, the Shrimps doubled their lead firing in from outside the box. Two minutes later and the away side racked up a third. A cracking volley from the Morecambe midfielder nestled into the bottom corner.
Andy Parkinson’s side showed a great desire to wrestle back control of the game. With TRFC pressing for a response, Walton was bundled over in the area and the referee pointed to the spot. The forward stepped up and found the corner to provide hope of a possible fight back.
The Whites had opportunities to score a second before half time. Nugent’s free-kick from 25 yards out narrowly sailed over the bar, before Harry Farley’s long throw fell to the feet of Louis Shead who couldn’t find the target.
The second 45 began with substitute, Burton, racing past the Morecambe defence and squaring to Cameron Ferguson whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.
In the 56th minute, Burton who had made an instant impact since his arrival at the break, latched onto a long clearance and thundered home at the near post.
Tranmere looked determined to equalise with the chances coming more regularly. Burton found Michael Quinn who saw his shot well-saved low down, before on the hour mark, Burton was unlucky to hit over unmarked in the area after being picked out by a long Ryan Stratulis pass.
A great cross by Stratulis in the 67th minute found Ferguson, whose left footed strike was palmed away by the Shrimps keeper at point blank range.
Bickerstaffe was called into a rare piece of action in the 71st minute. He dived at full stretch to save a curling effort.
In stoppage time, Tranmere had two great opportunities to complete a revival. First, Quinn rifled a shot inches away from the target. Ethan Gouldbourne then found himself unmarked in the box from a corner, but leaning back he was unfortunate to head over the bar.
Next up for Tranmere’s U18s is a trip to Sunderland on Tuesday night in the FA Youth Cup.
Starting Line Up: Bickerstaffe, Badhawi, Shead, Musuamba, Farley, Quinn, Hayde, Gouldbourne, Nugent, Walton, Ferguson
Used Subs: Burton, Stratulis, Sinnott, Jones, Corness
Report by Joe Sargent