Morecambe under-18s leapfrogged today's hosts Preston North End to go top of the Youth Alliance League with a 6-3 win at Springfields.
After trailing at the interval, Ollie Ras’ young guns came out firing in the second-half which saw the Shrimps score five, secure all three points and move top of the table.
The hosts came flying out the traps and broke the deadlock only four minutes into the contest as attacker Max Wilson rolled the ball into the bottom corner beyond Morecambe ‘keeper George Pedley.
Following the opener, Preston were firmly in the ascendancy and they doubled their advantage on 14 minutes as left-back Izac Khan picked out forward Theo Mawene to score their second.
The hosts’ pressure continued as they went in search of a third but Pedley produced a number of outstanding stops to prevent Preston extending their lead further.
On 28 minutes Morecambe had their first big chance of the game as winger Adam Fairclough whipped a venomous ball to the back post but all-action midfielder Lewis Ballantyne was unable to connect - the latter was cautioned moments later.
Four minutes later the Shrimps had one goal back as Nathan Mercer connected superbly on the volley, hammering the ball into the ground and beyond Tommy Davis in the Preston goal.
Pedley made another vital stop at the opposite end moments before the break as forward Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile was denied after cutting inside and powering a strong effort on goal.
The young Shrimps’ goal built confidence and they pushed for an equaliser prior to the break but were unable to score a second before the referee ended the first-half.
Half-time: Preston North End 2 Morecambe 1
Morecambe started the second-half like they ended the first - applying constant pressure hunting for a second goal.
Their hard work was rewarded on 52 minutes as Mercer found attacker Saul Fox-Akande, who hammered home from close range to bring us level.
Only five minutes later we had the lead and Mercer was involved once again, this time picking out Matthew Williams who coolly slotted home into the far corner.
Every Shrimps’ goal improved performance for Ollie Ras’ side and on 66 minutes they were firmly in control of the encounter as they netted their fourth. Brilliant interlinking play between left-back Vinny Wright and Williams forged a great chance for Fox-Akande who tapped home his second of the game at the near post.
We made our first change of the contest on 73 minutes as midfielder Callum Cooney replaced Ballantyne.
Cooney, who entered the fray on the right wing caused problems from the moment he came on, and within six minutes he had an assist to his name. After looking up he delivered the ball into a dangerous area and Williams was lurking at the far post to convert our fifth and his second of the game.
But the action was far from over. Two minutes later the referee pointed to the spot after Morecambe defender Andy Evans was deemed to have fouled Rodriguez-Gentile. The penalty winner became taker and lashed his spot kick beyond Pedley to reduce the deficit for the hosts.
A tense final ten minutes of regular time ensued as both sides searched for another goal and it was Ollie Ras’ side who found the net with three minutes of regular time left to play. Cooney was provider again with a brilliant cross and Saul Fox-Akande completed his hat-trick.
The hat-trick hero departed play moments later and was replaced by Max Holden.
Full-time: Preston North End 3 Morecambe 6
Preston North End: Davis, McGhee (Critchley 63’), Khan, Kamara, Wilkinson, Brindle, Garrigan, Horan (Carroll 63’), Rodriguez-Gentile, Mawene (Stringfellow 79’), Wilson (Havard 22’ (Goldsmith 79’))
Subs not used: None.
Goals: Wilson (4’), Mawene (14’), Rodriguez-Gentile (81’)
Morecambe: Pedley, Lynchey, Evans, Sowerby, Wright, Ballantyne (Cooney 73’), Mercer, Fairclough, McKean, Williams, Fox-Akande (Holden 89’)
Subs not used: Scales, Crane, Byron
Goals: Mercer (32’), Fox-Akande (52’, 66’, 87’), Williams (57’, 79’)