- On August 15, 2018
- In Commentary
Preston North End 3 Morecambe 1.
Carabao Cup 1st Rd, Tuesday 14 August 2018. Deepdale, 7.45pm.
Attendance – 6077, with 622 Shrimps fans.
Roche Sinclair Old Yarney Conlan Kenyon Fleming Wildig Oates Oswell Mandeville subs used Leitch-Smith on for Kenyon 45, Ellison on for Mandeville 65, Mendes-Gomes on for Oates 65.
PNE – Maxwell Earl Huntington c Storey Woods Gallagher Ledson Burke Barker Johnson Moult subs used Harrop for Barker 70, Nmecha for Johnson 80, Fisher for Woods 38.
Ref – Mr T Nield, allowed niggling and nudging by PNE, but not the Shrimps. Huntington fouled Oswell four times in 25 minutes, shirt pulling, elbowing etc, only on the 4th occasion did this warrant a talking to, yellow card after the first two for me. More than a hint of offside for the third goal but Refs assistant behind play so couldn’t see it. Didn’t give us much.
Goals – PNE – Barker 14, Moult 33, Burke 57, Shrimps- Mandeville 45.
Weather – Clear, warm and dry, pitch like a bowling green.
So our interest in this competition ends for another year early on. With a little more belief and a braver selection policy, this needn’t have been the case, but on the night PNE fully deserved to go through. Don’t let anyone con you this was PNE’s second string, yes there were 11 changes from the team that played on Saturday, but this side was brimming with young players with a point to prove. Barker making his debut on loan from Man City had a great game, as did recent signing Burke, Gallagher and Johnson were regulars in last season midfield and they paid 750K for Jordan Storey from Exeter. This is not forgetting Moult who was scoring for fun last season for Motherwell in the Scots Prem.
However, these aren’t excuses, they were a class above on the night but The Shrimps inability to get near the ball or lay a finger on any PNE player until new were already 2-0 down didn’t help.
Brandon Barker, aforementioned City loanee, was direct and a handful all evening, Sinclair making his inaugural start at full back was overrun as Barker and Josh Earl doubled up down the left flank, Mandeville helping little with his defensive duties. Gallagher served notice of intent with a curling effort from the D when we failed to clear, Roche helpless as it drifted agonisingly wide. This failure to close down proved crucial on 14 minutes as Barker ran unchallenged to shoot home accurately with his left foot from 20 yards as the defence backed off. PNE stroked the ball around and we chased shadows for the next ten minutes as chances came and went. Baz saved well from Burke at an angle and a string of corners were just about dealt with as Old and Yarney looked to establish a platform.
Oswell was causing a nuisance by competing, Huntington failing to bully him despite trying his hardest, however the ref, displaying social worker tendencies,was lenient on him even after four consecutive and increasingly frustrating misdemeanours on Jason. Despite this we got a foothold and a couple of wasted free kicks in the opposition half suggested that we were at least awake. That was until a poor Conlan backpass was intercepted, Burke and Moult exchanged passes and Moult stroked home from an angle just inside the right side of the box. Oops, nothing to lose now.
The game continued to amble along, both teams evidently happy to see it out to half time. However, a lifeline was thrown when PNE failed to clear a better Shrimps free kick, the ball bouncing nicely for Mandeville who didn’t hesitate and side footed into the bottom right past Maxwell to the amazement of everyone!! We’d scored at last!!
The second half saw us change to a more expansive 4-4-2, with Kenyon making way for AJay Leitch-Smith to assist Oswell up front. Confidence appeared for the first time this season and with Wildig and Flemo urging us on, we began to take the game to PNE. A couple of corners followed and the 622 away fans made some noise. North End seemed to realise they were in a game and there first meaningful raid of the second half proved crucial. Burke finished off with his left foot after a suspiciously offside looking Moult played him in, but the swiftness of the movement and passing only highlighted the difference in the teams. This knocked the wind out of our sails somewhat, changes were made and the PNE brought on Harrop, a one man dribbling machine while we replaced both our wide players. Mendes-Gomes made his bow and a what a delightful cameo, he doesn’t lack confidence in his ability and was willing to take players on and try things, more of this please. He immediately perked the away fans up with aggressive running and his crosses were dangerous.
Flemo volleyed a mistimed clearance towards his own goal inviting the lurking Burke to help himself, however Baz stood tall and saved for a corner. Harrop continued to duck and shimmy, and shoot from anywhere, as we tried in vain to get back into the game. It wasn’t to be, we were held at arms length for the remaining minutes.
The positives were Oswell starting, he showed enough to be worth another on Saturday, and Jims willingness to play 4-4-2 and him chucking on Mendes-Gomes.
The negatives, too slow out of the blocks and too respectful in the first period, however, the signs are there that with the right attacking intention and starting eleven that this season could yet spark into life. The question remains, will Jim and Ken revert to type on Saturday and stick with their trusted formula, or will they build on what they saw tonight and trust the new fangled method of two up front??
A word for the away following. Yes its only 23 miles and yes we took 2000 their 11 years ago, but given the past couple of seasons and the poor start, for 622 to make the effort was fantastic. The noise was deafening at one point, lets hope they are rewarded with a more positive and exciting team to watch, as we won’t be playing that sort of quality weekly, and we have proved we can scare teams.