Carnforth Rangers 1-1 Morecambe XI

Jim Smith scores the equalising goal for Morecambe against Carnforth Rangers. Picture: Mike Williamson.
Jim Smith scores the equalising goal for Morecambe against Carnforth Rangers. Picture: Mike Williamson.
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A youthful Morecambe side opened their pre-season campaign with a battling draw at Carnforth Rangers on Tuesday night.

The Shrimps had to come from behind after Kyle Davis put the North Lancashire and District Premier Division champions ahead just after half-time, but with 20 minutes left on the clock full-back Jim Smith scored from close range to secure a draw for Neil Wainwright’s side.

At a sunswept Quarry Park both sides made a bright start to proceedings with the immaculate playing surface making for an entertaining opening.

It was the hosts who had the first effort on goal however, with Morecambe goalkeeper Will Kitchen catching a looping effort from Nick Pidcock after the young ‘keeper had initially flapped at a corner.

As Morecambe began to settle into the game, Lewis Masters and Robson Hall linked up well down the right-hand side, creating a number of openings for the visitors.

The Shrimps’ first shot in anger came from highly promising midfielder Charlie Bailey, but his instinctive 25-yard strike was well palmed over his own crossbar by Carnforth ‘keeper Tom Barnfield.

With the game evenly poised, it was the home side who tried their luck on goal but after jinking his way past several defenders Byron Nixon could only see his stinging drive palmed away by Shrimps’ numer one Kitchen.

As the first-half came to a close it was the Shrimps who ended it on top but Barnfield was not to be beaten, denying Hall with his legs before getting down well to claim a low shot from Jake Townsend.

Following a hatful of substitutions for both sides at the break, it was a slow start to the second-half with both sides trying to familiarise themselves with new personnel.

It was the home side who settled quicker though and seven minutes after the restart they took the lead, with substitute Davis hitting a first time effort which squirmed underneath the despairing dive of substitute Max Povey via a wicked deflection.

Minutes later and Davis could have grabbed a second but after being played through on goal the striker blazed high over the Morecambe crossbar.

With clear-cut opportunities drying up for the Shrimps, Smith unleashed a powerful shot which was punched clear by Barnfield, while at the other end Mambwe Chilufya curled a ferocious drive agonisingly wide.

As the game entered its final quarter Wainwright’s young outfit upped the tempo and 20 minutes from time they got their reward.

An inswinging corner fell at the feet of Smith and despite seeing his first effort blocked by a Carnforth defender, the full-back smashed in the rebound from close range to equalise for the Shrimps.

Despite that leveller it was the hosts who came closest to winning the game but after controlling well, Damian Murphy’s hooked effort was acrobatically tipped around the post by Povey and both sides were made to settle for a hard-fought draw.

Carnforth Rangers: Barnfield; Brockbank, Greenland, Plevey, Crabtree; Pidcock, Darby (c), Meeks, Brooks; Nixon, Murphy. Subs: Hetherington, Rucastle, Jackson, Day, Davis, Chilufya.

Morecambe XI: Kitchen; Masters, Hilton, Reynolds (c), Smith; Hall, Roberts, Bailey, Townsend; Tomlinson; Preston. Subs: Povey, Cowley, Fortune, Livingstone, Homson-Smith.