Preston North End’s U18s went down battling in their 4-3 defeat against Morecambe.
Goals from Sam Livesey, Jack Ryan and James Quigley were not enough as Tom Woods’ penalty with five minutes remaining proved decisive.
The visitors started brightly to the game and could well have taken an early lead if not for the Preston crossbar.
Michael Newton pounced on a loose ball which rebounded out to the edge of the box and he poked the shot against the woodwork.
Morecambe’s energetic start to the game was rewarded after ten minutes.
Winger Charlie Bailey snuck in behind the North End defence and applied a simple finish over Ross Dalton to put his side ahead.
The goal sparked a reaction from Preston, and Adam Robinson, who impressed in the FA Youth Cup win over York City, almost brought his side level.
The 15-year-old started the move, bursting forward from the centre of midfield, before exchanging passes with Livesey, only for his shot to be brilliantly blocked by opposition centre half Dan Towers.
It was Livesey who provided the young Lilywhites’ main goal threat and he went close soon after, drifting inside the box and cutting in onto his left foot before firing just over the bar.
Halfway through the first half, Livesey tested goalkeeper Tom Stewart who blocked well from the forward’s powerful volley.
But Stewart was powerless to stopping Livesey with his next effort.
Ben Greenop teed up his strike partner who fired the ball low, skidding off the slick surface and finding the bottom corner.
Morecambe responded well to North End’s equaliser and nearly scored a brilliant team goal.
They moved the ball patiently from back to front before Aaron McGowan was released down the right only for Woods to divert the ball just wide.
The first half provided great entertainment as both sides continued to pour forward, but it was the Shrimps who went into the interval ahead with a goal on the stroke of half-time.
Morecambe captain McGowan was released down the right and he cut the ball back for Alex Naylor who smashed a sublime volley past Dalton into the top corner of the Preston goal.
Not long after the break, the visitors’ winger Danny Dunleavy nearly stretched his side’s advantage.
The ball broke free from a Preston corner and Dunleavy knocked the ball past several defenders, running from one end of the pitch to the other, only to place his finish wide of the post after Dalton did well to narrow the angle.
A flurry of changes mid-way through the second half inspired a North End equaliser.
Tyler Forbes, Nick Anderton and Jack Ryan were all introduced and the changes paid dividends when Ryan gave Preston parity.
An in-swinging corner from Bradley Wicks wasn’t dealt with by the Morecambe defence and Ryan was on hand to tap the ball home.
The home side began to dominate and had it not been for some last-ditch defending they would have been ahead.
But it was Morecambe who retook the lead against the run of play with 15 minutes to go.
Woods fired the ball past Dalton into the bottom corner after evading the offside trap and latching onto a long ball to score his first of the game.
Again, Preston fought back and got an instant equaliser through a superb strike from right back James Quigley.
Ryan, proved to be a nuisance as he so often does, battled his way through several tackles before fizzing a ball to the edge of the box for Quigley who ran onto the cross and rifled the ball back across Stewart and in to the bottom corner.
Preston pressed forward for a winner and Ryan was inches away from getting it after flinging himself at Anderton’s cross from the left.
With five minutes to go, Morecambe lead for the fourth time in the game.
McGowan found Woods’ run with a direct ball from the halfway line.
Woods knocked the ball past the onrushing Dalton, who clattered into the forward and a penalty was awarded.
The Preston keeper was sent the wrong way from the spot and Woods claimed his second of the match.
There was still time for one last North End chance.
Morecambe again failed to clear a Preston set piece and the ball fell to Robinson whose shot was cleared off the line by McGowan to preserve the Shrimps’ lead and to clinch the three points.
PNE starting XI: Dalton, Quigley, Sampson, Roscoe, Hagon, Robinson, Boyd (Forbes), Wicks (C), Magolis, Livesey (Ryan), Greenop (Anderton).
PNE subs not used: Martin, Scott.
Morecambe starting XI: Stewart, McGowan (C), Smith, Towers, Lewis, Newton, Dunleavy, Roberts, Woods, Naylor, Bailey.
Morecambe subs not used: Preston, Kitchen, Hilton, Reynolds.