Despite a spirited showing, Wrexham AFC exited the FA Youth Cup following a narrow 3-2 defeat in extra-time on the road against Morecambe in the First-Round Proper of the competition.
James Rainbird opened the scoring in the 20th minute before Morecambe responded in the 59th minute through Nathan Mercer to level the scores.
Saul Fox-Akande scored Morecambe’s second goal of the evening after 72 minutes, but a last-gasp 100th minute equaliser from Anthony Connolly sent the game to extra-time.
It wasn’t to be for Wrexham though, who succumbed to a late goal from Max Holden as they were knocked out of the competition.
Chadwick named Harry Ashfield as captain, after he made his first-team debut against Crewe Alexandra last month.
It was a fast-paced start in Lancashire, with both sides approaching the match with the type of enthusiasm and passion you’d come to expect from a side in the FA Youth Cup.
Morecambe fired a few warning strikes towards the visitors, but ultimately it was Wrexham who secured an early lead on the road.
Having played a cameo in the young Red Dragons' FA Youth Cup campaign last season, James Rainbird was named in the starting XI and looked determined to leave his mark on the match on his full debut in the competition.
It was Rainbird who rose highest to a cross from the right, and he managed to direct a powerful header into the net past Alfie Scales to break the deadlock for Chadwick’s side after 20 minutes.
The Shrimps – who have enjoyed a great start to their league campaign this season, reminded everyone of their qualities, as Adam Fairclough fired just wide of the post in the 29th minute.
Both sides continued to play out a hard-fought first half at the Mazuma Mobile Stadium, but neither could find a further breakthrough with the players closely matched.
Rio Owen came closest to finding the second goal, after making a smart run to lose his opposite number – Wrexham’s number nine broke into the box, but he failed to produce a strike inside the box in stoppage time.
Wrexham came out for the second half unchanged after a positive first-half performance, but it was the hosts who took the initiative as they looked to find a response at home.
Eventually the hosts’ attitude paid off, as Nathan Mercer shifted through the Wrexham backline and fired under Jack Pilkington to level the scores in the 59th minute.
The Red Dragons came within centimetres of retaking their lead, with the hosts having to clear a header off the line just minutes later.
Morecambe ramped up the pressure, as the experience of Ollie Ras’ side started to show against a youthful Wrexham side.
The hosts took the lead for the first time in the match after 72 minutes, as Saul Fox-Akande managed to get the final touch on Fairclough’s cross, firing past Pilkington from close range.
Determined not to go down without showcasing the fighting spirit which Wrexham sides typically embody – Chadwick’s side continued to battle for an equaliser in hopes of keeping their FA Youth Cup campaign alive.
Ashfield produced a moment of magic, managing to judge a looping ball and fired on the volley from just inside the box in the 89th minute. It should’ve been the leveller, but Scales produced a world-class save to keep Morecambe’s lead intact.
With just seconds remaining in stoppage time, the youthful Wrexham side took some inspiration from the first-team’s never-say-die attitude and found the leveller to take the match to extra time.
Goalkeeper Pilkington even made the dramatic late run up to take part in the set-piece, but it was Anthony Connolly who got the final touch from an in-swinging 100th minute Ashfield corner to keep Wrexham's hopes alive.
Morecambe restored their lead in the 9th minute of extra time, with Max Holden pouncing on a rebound to fire home a vital goal from close-range.
Mikey Hayman forced Scales into a fine low stop with moments left of the first-half in extra-time, as Wrexham continued to stay resilient in their efforts to respond.
Two minutes after the restart, goal scorer Connolly came agonisingly close to netting his second goal of the evening.
Wrexham’s number 18 managed to get a touch on the ball from a goalmouth scramble, but it wasn’t enough to beat Scales as time started to run out for the visitors.
After showing such spirit to force extra-time, it was just one step too far for the young Red Dragons who were narrowly edged out after a hard-fought 120 minutes in Lancaster.
Wrexham AFC: Pilkington (GK), Hayes, Kelly, Moore (Roberts 90’), Dean, Purvis, Edwards (Wright 103’), Lussey (Connolly 78’), Owen (Hayman 90’), Ashfield (C), Rainbird.
Subs not used: Owen (GK), Nicholas, Hazeldine.
Morecambe FC: Scales (GK), Lynchey, Wright, Dobson, Evans (C), Ballantyne (Sowerby 83’), Fairclough (Wright 108’), Mercer, Fox-Akande (Holden 90+6’), McKean, Williams (Cooney 8’).
Subs not used: Ashcroft (GK), Crane, Byron.
Match Attendance: 229