Morecambe 2 Preston North End 4: Brave Shrimps bow out of the Carabao Cup
Morecambe’s Carabao Cup participation ended with a second round defeat on an entertaining night at the Mazuma Stadium.
Despite being two goals down just past the half-hour, Stephen Robinson’s players gave Preston North End a scare - not least when Anthony O’Connor and Cole Stockton dragged them level just past the hour.
Goals from Ryan Ledson and Sepp van den Berg put the visitors two goals ahead again before Stockton saw a late effort ruled out for offside.
That was as near as the Shrimps came but, despite a third consecutive loss in league and cup, they were able to hold their heads high.
Robinson made three changes from the team beaten at Gillingham at the weekend.
In came Shane McLoughlin, Alfie McCalmont and Courtney Duffus with Callum Jones, Adam Phillips and Josh McPake the men to make way.
The tone for a breathless, end-to-end night was set inside 17 seconds as Cole Stockton almost charged down North End keeper Declan Rudd’s clearance.
The end-to-end nature was exemplified on seven minutes when the visitors opened the scoring.
A Morecambe corner saw Rudd comfortably gather Sam Lavelle’s header before play immediately switched to the other end.
Daniel Johnson’s through ball sent Emil Riis in behind the Shrimps’ central defenders and he finished clinically past Jokull Andresson.
Back came Robinson’s players with Ryan Cooney played into space but, having advanced to the edge of the area, he sliced a shot horribly off target.
Riis fired straight at Andresson from distance before Rudd was called into more serious action, blocking Arthur Gnahoua’s effort from a tight angle.
Then, on 26 minutes, the first change of the night came as referee James Oldham limped off, pointing to his calf, seeing him replaced by assistant Paul Graham.
Seven minutes later and North End doubled their lead as Riis notched his second of the night.
It was a calamity from the Morecambe point of view as Lavelle held off Riis with both chasing a long ball.
However, Lavelle’s momentum took him into the advancing Andresson, who spilled the ball, and with both men on the floor, Riis fired into the empty net.
Lavelle and Andresson both required treatment before continuing with Morecambe facing the possibility of goalkeeping coach Barry Roche’s first appearance since October 2019.
Needing a lifeline, the Shrimps duly found one in the last of five added minutes before the break.
Andrew Hughes brought down Duffus and, from Leigh’s free-kick, O’Connor converted from close range.
The second half began in the same fashion with Morecambe the first to show as Rudd turned away Duffus’ fierce effort.
Back came North End with Brad Potts shooting narrowly wide from 20 yards before Andresson turned away a Johnson effort from distance.
Stockton lashed an effort over on the hour mark but was more accurate two minutes later, shrugging off a defender before firing home.
It was almost 3-2 in Morecambe’s favour seconds later when Leigh’s cross came off Greg Cunningham’s chest and Rudd was forced into a scrambling save.
Moments later and North End were back in front, though it was a strike worthy of winning any game as Ledson fired an unstoppable effort into the top corner.
Duffus shot wide from 18 yards as the Shrimps sought a way back into the game, though North End saw a penalty appeal for handball come to nothing as they hunted a fourth goal.
Riis was denied by Andresson but van den Berg wrapped up victory on 79 minutes, tapping home from Cunningham’s cross.
The assistant’s flag denied Stockton a second of the night, and despite four minutes of added time, a way back proved beyond the Shrimps.
Morecambe: Andresson, Cooney, Lavelle, O’Connor, G Leigh, McLoughlin (McPake 80), McCalmont, Diagouraga, Duffus (Phillip 80), Stockton, Gnahoua (McDonald 76). Sub not used: Roche, Jones, Mensah, Wootton.
Preston North End: Rudd, Van den Berg, Storey, Hughes, Rafferty (Bauer 75), Ledson, Potts, Johnson (Bayliss 83), Cunningham, Riis, Sinclair (Maguire 59). Subs not used: Iverson, L Leigh, Earl, Thomas.
Referee: James Oldham/Paul Graham.
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