A late strike from Doncaster Rovers condemned Morecambe under-18s to a 1-0 defeat in this afternoon’s Youth Alliance Cup encounter.
Ollie Ras named a side which featured four younger age group players on the bench - Kyran Tonge, Oscar Wright, Billy Whaite and Dan Marshall.
A battling contest which provided opportunities for both sides ended in heartbreak for the young Shrimps as Rovers’ substitute Deshaun Musgrave-Dore netted a late winner in stoppage time.
The fixture started with both teams creating chances as they looked to break the deadlock and it was the visitors who thought they had done so on eight minutes. Rovers attacker Harry Wood rounded Shrimps’ shot-stopper Alfie Scales and rolled the ball into the back of the net, but the linesman deemed Wood to be offside.
Morecambe forged their first big opening on 11 minutes after brilliant play down the left. Attacking midfielder Jack McKean floated an inviting ball towards the back post for the arriving winger Callum Cooney, but he was unable to connect.
Pacey winger Adam Fairclough had Morecambe’s next chance in front of goal after being picked out by energetic midfielder Nathan Mercer, but his shot on goal flew over Rovers’ bar.
Despite both sides battling hard to gain the ascendancy it was goalless at the interval.
Half-time: Morecambe 0-0 Doncaster Rovers
Ollie Ras’ young guns came flying out the blocks in the second-half as Cooney and McKean came close to opening the scoring.
Moments later Morecambe skipper Andy Evans climbed highest following a free-kick from Mercer, but the centre-back nodded his header wide.
The Shrimps’ confidence was growing and they continued their search for the first goal of the game just after the hour mark as Fairclough lashed wide from the edge of the box.
The hosts made their first substitution of the game on 67 minutes as 16-year-old forward Billy Whaite replaced attacker Saul Fox-Akande.
Soon after his introduction, Whaite received the ball on the edge of the box and hammered an effort towards Rovers’ goal, but it fell just wide.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Morecambe had two great chances as Mercer and right-back Joe Lynchey fired efforts from the edge of the area. Mercer’s shot flew wide, whilst Lynchey’s powerful hit forced a strong save to keep the game level.
Lewis Ballantyne entered the fray on 86 minutes as Nathan Mercer was withdrawn.
On 87 minutes it was Whaite who was fighting for the lead once again. The forward showed outstanding skill and power to glide through the Doncaster defence before getting a shot off, but visiting ‘keeper Jacob Bryant made the required stop.
It was late heartbreak for Ollie Ras’ side as Deshaun Musgrave-Dore poked home from close range following a scramble in the Morecambe box to seal the win for Doncaster Rovers.
Full-time: Morecambe 0-1 Doncaster Rovers
The Shrimps continue to find themselves top of their Youth Alliance Cup group despite today’s defeat with results elsewhere in the coming weeks determining their fate.
Morecambe: Scales, Lynchey, Holden, Evans (C), V. Wright, Dobson, Mercer (86’ Ballantyne), McKean, Cooney, Fairclough, Fox-Akande (67’ Whaite)
Subs not used: Tonge, O. Wright, Marshall
Doncaster Rovers: Bryant, Piekarski (76’ Murray), Tomlinson (53’ Musgrave-Dore), Allen, Bacon, Flint (C), Dillon, Bennett, Straughan-Brown, Wood (60’ Campbell-Ryce), Green
Subs not used: Corbett, Thompson