Morecambe gained the edge in their League Two play-off semi-final over Tranmere with a 2-1 win in the first leg at Prenton Park.
Goals from Nat Knight-Percival and Liam McAlinden in the first half – either side of a Paul Clarke equaliser – saw the Shrimps claim the advantage ahead of the second leg on Sunday evening.
It keeps Morecambe on track for their first promotion to the third tier in England, while Tranmere have it all to do if they want to return to League One at the first time of asking.
Morecambe earn first-leg advantage at Prenton Park
It was a frantic first half at Prenton Park. Tranmere dominated throughout but two sloppy moments at the back, and two clinical moments for Morecambe, saw them go into the break behind.
Against the run of play, Knight-Percival opened the scoring from close range on 15 minutes, before Clarke’s far-post header levelled the game four minutes later.
Tranmere continued to dominate and create the better chances, but a failure to clear their lines properly from a free-kick in first-half stoppage-time allowed Cole Stockton to cross for McAlinden, who bundled in to make it 2-1.
Ian Dawes – taking charge of his first game back in caretaker charge of Tranmere following the sacking of Keith Hill last week – made a host of changes in the second half, but he could not get his side back level.
What the managers said…
Tranmere’s caretaker manager Ian Dawes: “It’s a tough one to take. We conceded two poor goals from two second-phase set-plays, which is disappointing for us as a group. You look at the balance of the game and I thought we were very good in the first half, but in the second half our tempo was a bit too slow when we wanted to step it up a little bit.
“They were there to frustrate us and they did that well tonight. We’ve just got to make sure going into the next leg that we learn from that.”
Morecambe’s Derek Adams: “We obviously knew how Tranmere were going to play. They started very well and we knew they would with 4,000 fans in the stadium, but we rode the storm and dealt with it. Once we got into the game we scored two very good goals and probably could have scored more.
“I’m delighted with the players. I thought they showed a lot of grit and determination tonight.”
Man of the Match – Nat Knight-Percival
Danny Gabbidon on Sky Sports Football:
“As well as his goal, in the first half, Morecambe had to defend for their lives and deal with an aerial bombardment. While in the second half they controlled Tranmere’s attacks brilliantly.”
The second leg will take place at The Mazuma Stadium on Sunday, May 23 at 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports Football.