Morecambe 3 Carlisle United 1: Derek Adams enjoys a winning start as Shrimps boss
Derek Adams’ reign as Morecambe manager got off to a winning start with victory in their final Leasing.com Trophy group match of the season.
Adams’ big night was in danger of being upstaged when Jarrad Branthwaite gave the visitors the lead and became their youngest scorer of all time in the process.
However, two goals in six minutes just past the hour from Andrew Tutte and Aaron Wildig put Morecambe ahead before Luke Conlan’s first senior goal secured victory.
Adams had named an unchanged side from that which had lost at Blackpool in the FA Cup at the weekend.
He saw a decent enough start from his side with a strong challenge from George Tanner on Jon Mellish setting the tone early on.
Carlisle keeper Louis Gray was out quickly as Tanner chased a through ball, while Conlan opted to pass instead of shoot when in a decent position.
However, that bright start faded as the visitors began to enjoy the better of proceedings.
They forced the first save of the night on 17 minutes when Elias Sorensen’s effort was turned behind by Mark Halstead.
Canice Carroll sent a first-time shot over the bar before Branthwaite took centre stage on 26 minutes.
Winning the ball inside his own half, he strode forward and held off the would-be tacklers before firing beyond Halstead, scoring his first goal at the age of 17 years and 138 days.
Although the Shrimps were struggling to impose themselves in an attacking sense, they could have drawn level before the break.
Gray punched out a Tutte shot before making a more eye-catching save moments later in tipping over Lewis Alessandra’s effort.
Steve Old also headed over but the Shrimps had an escape before the break when some lax defensive work ended with Sorensen’s acrobatic effort hitting the post and going behind.
With Morecambe still trailing in the second half, Adams opted to freshen up his side early in the second half.
Ritchie Sutton and A-Jay Leitch-Smith were both introduced off the bench as the Shrimps switched to a back three, emulating their visitors’ formation.
They drew level just past the hour when Christie Elliott clumsily fouled Wildig and Tutte gave Gray no chance from the spot.
Six minutes later and the turnaround was completed when Leitch-Smith was sent clear down the right-hand channel.
He got to the line, waited for support, and his cross was bundled home by Wildig from close range.
Both sides continued to refresh their line-ups as the half progressed and one of the visitors’ replacements, Olufela Olomola, saw a shot blocked on its way to goal.
Cole Stockton could have made it 3-1 when he collected Wildig’s through ball but, having held off the defenders, saw his effort blocked by the onrushing Gray.
Olomola and Harry McKirdy both failed to find the target as Carlisle poured on the pressure in the closing stages.
However, in the first of five added minutes, Conlan had the last word with a fierce strike after the ball dropped invitingly on the left-hand side of the Carlisle area.
Morecambe: Halstead, Tanner, Lavelle, Old, Conlan, Tutte (Kenyon 75), Brewitt, O’Sullivan (Leitch-Smith 55), Wildig, Alessandra (Sutton 55), Stockton. Subs not used: Roche, Ellison, Miller, Cranston.
Carlisle United: Gray, Knight-Percival (McKirdy 69), Branthwaite, Mellish, Elliott (Jones 85), Carroll, Bridge, Sagaf (Olomola 71), Iredale, Sorensen, Loft. Subs not used: Robinson, Hayden, Charters, Walton.
Referee: Graham Salisbury.