Morecambe 0 Southport 2 (ATS Challenge Trophy) A DEPLETED Morecambe side struggled to stop their seaside rivals in the ATS Cup Final at Preston's impressive new Deepdale Stadium on Tuesday night. With their fanatical fans filling one half of the fabulous Tom Finney stand, they started lively enough but their stylish, flowing football broke down too often and decent attempts on goal were rare. And the Shrimps have keeper McIlhargey to thank for pulling off three fantastic saves which stopped the scoreline being embarrassing.

Southport, who haven't beaten Morecambe in 12 games, were worthy winners and now Jim Harvey will have to fire-up his side for the Spalding Cup if they are to get any silverware this season.

The match started lively enough with both sides looking to attack. Southport nearly drew first blood when Justin O'Reilly broke clear and fired a low shot into the side netting.

Then Stuart Drummond struck a peach of a pass to put young Gary Williams through for a one-on-one with the keeper. Williams picked his spot and tried to place the ball into the top corner but Stewart stood his ground well and pushed the shot wide.

In the 15th minute, playmaker Drummond got a good chance himself but his shot was just an inch or two wide of the mark.

With player manager Paul Futcher solid at the back, Southport started to win the loose ball and their forays forward yielded greater results.

Butler ran clear for a head to head with McIlhargey but the keeper got down brilliantly to stop the side-footed shot.

When the ball was curled into the box minutes later Steve Morris got his foot to the ball at the near post to put Southport into the lead.

There was an inevitability about the goal and the way Morecambe seemed to wilt as they faced the prospect of getting back on level terms.

Stuart Parkinson, who had replaced a hobbling Gary Williams, was gifted a free header on goal late into the first half but it bounced high off his head.

McIlhargey made a breath-taking save from Morris minutes into the restart and in the 54th minute he was called upon again to deny O'Reilly a golden opportunity. Then came the killer second goal. Morecambe's back four hesitated thinking Brian Kennedy had been fouled by Butler but the ref waved play on and Morris toe-bunged the ball 25 yards towards goal. A deadly bounce caught out McIlhargey and although there was still half an hour of the match left, there was no way back for Morecambe.

Valiant Shrimps salute their fantastic following

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