Match Report – Morecambe U18s 3-1 Preston North End U18s 26/9/20

PNEU18s warm up ahead of their North West Youth Alliance League game against Morecambe U18s

Despite a decent display from Preston North End U18s, it was not enough to secure three points against a resilient Morecambe side as the hosts ran out 3-1 winners.

PNE got off to the perfect start after Levi Lewis opened the scoring for the visitors after just 11 minutes.

Lewis connected sweetly when his left foot strike placed the ball into the right corner of the net topping off an impressive move for The Lilywhites.

The lead was cut short just three minutes later as Morecambe equalised through a deep in-swinging free kick that caught everyone unaware at the back post.

With the score line locked level and both teams trying to get a foot hold on the game this period of play seen strong challenges from both Teddy Mfuni and Harry Nevin as they worked together to minimise the threat of Morecambe’s No.9.

Preston regained momentum and were playing some nice one touch football with midfielder Aaron Bennett at the heart of most PNE attacks.

During a good spell of possession for the visiting side, the midfielder showed encouraging signs to get on the ball and make stuff happen, playing some nice one-twos with midfield partner Dana Amaral.

But it was the home side who took the lead on 30 minutes against the run of play as an unfortunate deflected shot trickled past the helpless Declyn Duggan in the North End goal.

The Lilywhites defended well to keep the score line at 2-1 after crucial tackles again from both Mfuni and Nevin kept the threatening Shrimps at bay.

Nick Harrison’s message from the side-line of encouraging his players to push up seemed to be working as they responded positively, creating two chances before the half-time break with Levi Lewis almost adding his second of the game.

The Visitors started the brighter of the two sides and on the 50th minute Bennett seen his long-range strike narrowly sail over the bar. 

Bennett was at the heart of things again for PNE, this time creating a chance for Kyi Nicholson who seen his attempt saved by the goalkeeper.

Mikey O’Neill was also unfortunate not to see his effort find the back of the net just a minute later after he was denied by another good save from the Morecambe number one.

The best chance of the half fell to Bennett again, this time dancing his way through the home sides defence before lobbing the on rushing ‘keeper, only to see his audacious effort come back off the cross bar.

PNE stuck to Nick’s game plan of patient one touch passing football but were often met by a sea of red shirts behind the ball when threatening the opposition box.

The closing stages also seen the introduction of last weeks hat-trick hero Joe Rodwell-Grant as well as appearances from Lewis Leigh and Ben Dooley.

Morecambe were becoming increasingly dangerous through counter attacks and almost made it 3-1 on 75 minutes if it had not been for a crucial last-ditch challenge by Joe Blanchard.

Ben Dooley had an effort flash just wide with ten minutes remaining on the clock for The Lilywhites, but it would be the home side who would get the next goal and extend their lead with eight minutes to go.

North End looked threatening right to the final whistle but just could not find a way back into the game against a resolute Morecambe defence.

Speaking after the game Nick Harrison insisted despite the result there was plenty of positives to take from the game.

“I thought overall the general performance of the team was good, we had some good patterns of play in the game and when we got into the final third we had plenty of chances we should have scored from.

“We had to be patient and look to break through their lines but I thought we looked quite threating when we did break through, the only thing missing was our players being more clinical in front of goal but overall the performance was very positive.”

Harrison was also pleased with how influential play maker Aaron Bennett performed today after he was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet for North End.

“I thought Aaron was outstanding today, we made the decision to push him higher up the pitch in the second half and he got into some very dangerous areas in the final third and was unlucky not to score after hitting the cross bar.”

Looking ahead to the next game, Nick added: “We will go away now and analyze the game over the week and improve the areas we need too, the next game we play we will be looking for the players to perform well and aim for a more positive result.”