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Discussion in 'Preston' started by themaclad, Sep 13, 2017.
Big offers to BD & DJ but do they match what the Old Firms and German Bundesliga can offer?
Fisher in possible trouble for his nut grabbing exploits
PNE U18 2 Salford City U18 1
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The youth side extended their winning league start at home to four games as they beat Salford City 2-1.
Vaughn Green’s opener gave North End an early lead in the North West Youth Alliance clash at UCLan Sports Arena.
Josh Seary netted his second goal in as many games after the break, and despite the visitors pulling one back, the young Lilywhites stayed resolute to secure all three points.
There were five changes to the line-up that started the last game against Shrewsbury Town.
Kyi Nicholson and Lewis Coulton came in at right back and left back respectively, while Mikey O’Neil, Noah Mawene and Green slotted in to the XI too.
It took just six minutes for the hosts to go ahead when Nicholson found Mawene on the edge of the box, who tapped the ball to Green and the forward turned onto his left foot before firing low into the bottom right corner.
The goalscorer could’ve bagged again five minutes later as he powered through the challenge of two defenders in the box, but he didn’t connect with the ball in the way he would’ve liked and his shot went wide.
Oliver Lombard’s first action between the sticks came when he had to tip a long-range effort over the bar.
Green was alert in the box at the other end to steal the ball off a defender before shifting it onto his right foot and curling an effort just wide.
He came close once more when Bennett made waves down the left flank and fired a low cross just inches in front of his outstretched right boot.
Salford had the ball in the net shortly after, but the flag was raised when the No.9 slotted home from an offside position after the ball had rebounded off the post.
Bennett had a free-kick saved and Mawene prodded wide from the resulting corner when the ball fell to him in the box as the half-time whistle was blown.
Two changes were made by PNE for the second 45 as Seary and Levi Lewis replaced O’Neil and Green.
Another Bennett free-kick went closer than the last as he struck the post soon after the restart.
The woodwork was on North End’s side the next time it was hit though, when the two substitutes combined to double the lead.
Lewis capitalised on a mistake in the Salford backline and put a ball across the box for Seary to bundle in off the upright.
The visitors looked to hit back straight away with a set piece in a promising position, but the attempt was sent over the bar.
A third change saw Finlay Cross-Adair taking the place of Mawene in the attacking line.
The youngster was immediately into the action, cutting in on his left foot and shooting into the ‘keeper’s gloves.
With 12 minutes left, Salford found their goal as the forward jinked his way into the box and fired low into the bottom left corner.
Dana Amaral came on for the closing exchanges with Lewis LeighDooley On A Hard-Fought Win
Salford pushed for an equaliser and nearly found it when a curling effort whistled just past the post.
Ben Dooley was on hand to block superbly in added time to prevent a shot heading towards goal, and that proved to be the final action of a hard-fought contest.
Nick Harrison was impressed with how his side dealt with the wet and windy conditions to make it back-to-back wins in the North West Youth Alliance league.
“The weather played its part in terms of making it difficult to play and at times, the wind got hold of the ball and made it tricky, but I thought the players kept trying to do the right thing,” he said.
“Despite the conditions, I thought there were some really good spells where we passed the ball and created some good chances, so I’m pleased with the way the lads played and obviously it’s always good to get a win and two on the bounce.”
The U18s looked set to pick up their first clean sheet since the second game of the season but lost it late on, which the Academy manager put down to a lapse in concentration.
Harrison added: “I thought it was going to be, but I think we just lost our focus and made a couple of mistakes which led to their goal.
“Then we had to deal with a bit of pressure because when you’re winning a game 2-1 with five minutes or so to go, the opposition are going to come at you.
“I thought we weathered the storm and managed the game really well at the end, but if we’d took our chances throughout the game, we could’ve made it a lot easier for ourselves.”
Harrison changed half of the outfield players from the previous starting XI and was happy with how those alterations played out.
“That’s been the story of our season – we’ve made a lot of changes game by game, whether that’s down to injuries or players being out on loan or not available, and I think that’s the nature of youth football as well,” he said.
“We want to make sure that we give players the opportunities where we can, and I thought we did that today.
“All the players coming in slotted in well and that’ll continue until the end of the season.”
PNE line-up: Lombard; Nicholson, Nevin, Blanchard, Coulton; Dooley, Leigh (Amaral, 79); O'Neil (Seary, 46), Mawene (Cross-Adair, 73), Bennett; Green (Lewis, 49).
Subs not used: Duggan.
Referee: Mr E Bell.
Boro game now kicks off at 7
Fisher 3 game ban for ball grabbing
Bolton Wanderers U18 3 PNE U18 2
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A tough away day for Preston North End U18s ended in a narrow 3-2 defeat to Bolton Wanderers.
Goals from Mikey O’Neill and Kyi Nicholson were not enough to secure the three points for North End as the hosts edged a five-goal thriller.
Academy manager Nick Harrison made three changes to the side that beat Salford City last weekend; Josh Seary, Jacob Slater and Levi Lewis coming into the side, replacing Harry Nevin, Ben Dooley and Lewis Coulton in the line-up – the latter later appearing among the first team substitutes at Vicarage Road, alongside fellow scholar Jacob HollaDate Confirmed For Lincoln City FA Youth Cup Tie
Dooley, who has captained the U18s for much of the campaign, was also unavailable after travelling with the first team for their game against Watford.
Lilywhites goalkeeper Oliver Lombard was called into action within the opening minutes of the game, producing a fine double save to keep the scoreline at 0-0.
On what was a wet and windy day at the Eddie Davies Academy, both sides battled for possession, with neither team able to grab a strong foot hold of the game in the opening 15 minutes.
Bolton began to look more threatening as the half went on, and on 18 minutes, they found themselves in front as the ball squeezed past Lombard in the Lilywhites goal.
Moments later, the Trotters came close to doubling their lead, only to see the looping header sail over the crossbar.
North End’s defence was called into action on 32 minutes, not once, but twice as Josh Seary made a crucial block before his defensive partner Nicholson ensured the ball stayed out of the net.
As PNE looked to be heading into the half-time break behind, Mikey O’Neill smashed the ball home from close range, leaving the Bolton No.1 with no chance, after a delightful pass from Nicholson to create the opportunity.
Half-time saw Harrison make his first change of the game when Oliver Lombard was replaced by Declyn Duggan between the sticks.
Harrison’s team talk during the interval seemed to have worked as PNE started the brighter of the two sides, Vaughn Green unlucky to see his effort flash just wide of the post.
But unfortunately for the visitors, it was Bolton who regained the lead on 55 minutes against the run of play, causing frustration for the PNE backline after their good start to the half.
Finlay Cross-Adair and Dana Amaral were introduced to the action just after the hour of mark, in place of Noah Mawene and Aaron Bennett.
Despite the changes, it was Bolton who got the next goal of the game, when a corner kick was headed home from close range to double the hosts’ lead.
PNE responded positively to the setback and almost found a way back into the game through Nicholson, whose effort deflected wide for a corner before being cleared.
The game had become slightly stretched in the final ten minutes, as Wanderers almost made it a four, only to be denied by the crossbar.
As the game entered the final five minutes of play, North End were given a lifeline as Kyi Nicholson coolly converted from inside the box, lifting the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper to ensure the visitors weren’t going down without a fight.
Despite late pressure from the young Lilywhites it was not enough to grab a late point at the Eddie Davies Academy.
Speaking after the game, Nick Harrison was full of praise for his younger players’ performance despite the result.
“In terms of the performance, I thought it was good, especially the younger players, as we rested a few players today and had quite a few of the senior players missing as they travelled with the first team.
“It was two good teams with both sides trying to win the game, its unfortunate we haven’t been able to come out on top on this occasion, but overall, I thought we did okay.”
Harrison insisted that despite the result, his group of players will have taken something important from the game.
“With a number of the senior players not available today or being rested, it was a good chance for some of the younger lads to come in and play against a really good opposition.
“I think the best way for players to improve is to play against good players, so I definitely think they will have learnt something from the game.
“We had some good chances today and maybe should have scored more, but the main positive to take is the minutes on the pitch for some of the younger lads who haven’t featured as much this season and their development.”
Preston North End U18s travel to Lincoln City in the third round of the FA Youth Cup in their next game, with a 7pm kick-off at the LNER Stadium on Friday 4th December.
PNE line-up: Lombard (Duggan, 46); Nicholson, Seary, Blanchard, Slater; Leigh, Mawene (Cross-Adair, 60); O’Neil, Bennett (Amaral, 65), Lewis; Green.
Subs not used: Huddart, Rodwell-Grant.
How to ruin Christmas, Sky showing our home game aganst Brizzle 18/12/20 8pm
Contact extension imminent
PNE U18 3 Walsall U18 0
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Preston North End U18s swept aside ten-man Walsall thanks to a Joe Rodwell-Grant finish and a Lewis Leigh brace.
After an even first half, it looked set to be level between the two sides at the break, but the Walsall goalkeeper was sent off for handling outside the box in added time, and Rodwell-Grant scored when the resulting free-kick rebounded to him.
Leigh netted his first shortly after the restart when he fired into the top left corner, and then he made it three with a low shot after he had been played in by Rodwell-Grant to wrap up the win.
Nick Harrison made five changes to the team from the last game against Bolton, with Lewis Coulton, Ben Dooley, Harry Huddart, Rodwell-Grant, and Jacob Holland-Wilkinson coming into the starting line-up.
Both sides had chances in a hotly contested start to the game, with Walsall’s No.10 shooting narrowly wide of the post and Holland-Wilkinson blasting over the bar at either end of the pitch.
Oliver Lombard was out smartly minutes later when a through ball nearly found the Saddlers’ striker; the PNE shot-stopper just got to the ball first to prevent a shot.
Walsall could’ve taken the lead when a ball across the box found the left winger at the back post, but his attempt went high over the bar when he should’ve got it on target.
Another chance went begging for the visitors when the defensive midfielder charged forward from the centre spot and toe-poked wide on the edge of the box.
North End were next to have a golden opportunity to go ahead when Coulton put a teasing ball right across the face of goal, which both Rodwell-Grant and Leigh were inches away from tapping in.
A crazy end to the first 45 saw Walsall’s No.1 sent off after he’d misjudged the bounce of the ball and saved it with his outstretched hand outside of the 18-yard box, with the referee blowing his whistle as Rodwell-Grant’s shot was heading into the net.
That proved to be inconsequential though, as the frontman tapped home after the substitute ‘keeper had parried Leigh’s free-kick to Rodwell-Grant, who gave his side a half-time lead.
That lead was doubled just four minutes into the second half when Leigh found himself with time and space on the left side of the box, from where he powered a shot into the top corner.
The scorer of the second then had a set piece from a similar position which was saved well.
The young Lilywhites kept attacking the ten men and should’ve extended their advantage when first Blanchard’s shot in the box was blocked, and then Holland-Wilkinson blazed over from close-range.
However, it wasn’t long until the third goal came – Rodwell-Grant tapped the ball around the corner into the path of the on-rushing Leigh, who took a touch into the box and placed a strike into the bottom left corner.
The first change for the hosts saw Leigh, who had picked up a knock from a tackle, make way for Kian Taylor.
Walsall looked for a way back into the game and a cross from the left flank was headed only narrowly over Lombard’s bar.
As North End looked for another, Rodwell-Grant spun his defender well and drove into the box, but he opted to pull the ball back instead of shooting and it was cleared by the visitors.
With five minutes left Lombard saved brilliantly from an edge of the box free-kick, diving to his right and palming the strike away to protect the clean sheet.
Bradley Kelly and Dan Mahaffy entered the fray for the final few minutes, replacing Blanchard and Noah Mawene, as North End saw out the win to take all three points in the North West Youth Alliance league.
Not only did the final whistle bring a valuable win, but also the youth side’s first clean sheet since the second game of the season in September.
Speaking after the game, Academy manager Harrison said: “I thought it was a very good performance and obviously it’s a very good result given that we’ve got a clean sheet.
“It’s a positive step in the right direction. Walsall had a couple of chances at the end, which teams will always have, and we defended well and thankfully stopped them scoring.
“[Playing against ten men] is a bit of a different challenge and young players can sometimes lose their concentration, but the fact we kept the clean sheet goes to show the players have done really well with their focus and keeping on top of the game.”
Having had a man advantage for a whole half, Harrison did feel like his side could’ve added to the two goals they scored after the break.
“We could’ve scored more than three today, to be honest, we had a number of chances, especially in the second half,” he said.
“The positives are that we created really good opportunities, whether that was through individual play or the team passing the ball really well.
“It’s the hardest part of the game putting the ball in the back of the net, so maybe it was a little bit of composure or a bit of quality in front of goal that we just didn’t quite have at certain times.”
The U18s play their final game before a three-week Christmas break next Saturday, making the journey to Tranmere.
Looking ahead to the game, Harrison said: “It’s the same messages that we’ve given the players throughout the season so far.
“We want players to work hard and work for each other, and then show their quality.
“Regardless of the result, first and foremost that’s what we want, and I think in terms of the players we’ve got in this group, if they do that then we will get a positive result.”
PNE line-up: Lombard; Nicholson, Huddart, Blanchard (Kelly, 89), Coulton; Leigh (Taylor, 67), Dooley; Green, Mawene (Mahaffy, 89), Holland-Wilkinson; Rodwell-Grant.
Subs not used: Barry.
Referee: Mr P Fuller.
Preston North End centre half Paul Huntington has signed an extension to his contract until the summer of 2022.
The Lilywhites’ No.23, who joined the club on a free transfer in the summer of 2012, will take his time at the club to ten years with this new deal.
Since signing on a free transfer from Yeovil Town, he has gone on to make 292 appearances and is closing in on becoming the 26th player to play 300 or more competitive games for the club in its 140-year history, where he will join the likes of Alan Kelly Senior, Sir Tom Finney and most recently, current team-mate Paul Gallagher.
In those games he has also contributed 18 goals, including the second in the club’s 2015 League One Play-Off Final victory over Swindon Town at Wembley.
Speaking after completing the paperwork, the 33-year-old defender said: “I’m obviously delighted to sign, it’s a club that I have been at for a long time now and next year will make it my tenth year.
“It’s a very special club to me and I think everybody knows what it means to me being a part of this club and this group of lads as well.
“I’m delighted with it and I’m looking forward to cracking on and doing as well as we can this season.”
Rudd has operation
Blackburn away on telebox
PNE U18 1 Blackpool U18 4
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The youth side were beaten 4-1 by Blackpool at home in the North West Youth Alliance league on Saturday.
The young Lilywhites took the lead early on in the match when Jacob Holland-Wilkinson got on the end of a through ball and slotted in.
But goals from Brad Holmes, Michael Fitzgerald and a Rob Apter brace turned the game around for the visitors.
There was one enforced change to the team that faced Oldham last weekend, with Jacob Slater coming in for the injured Lewis Coulton at left back.
The opening goal of the game came after just six minutes when PNE’s number one Oliver Lombard smashed a long ball forward, which was not dealt with by the Tangerines, and Holland-Wilkinson nipped in round the back to capitalise.
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Holland-Wilkinson Intent On 'Putting Right' Derby Defeat
The visitors equalised ten minutes later when a throw-in from the left fell to Apter and he played in Holmes. From there, the striker placed a shot into the bottom right corner.
As PNE looked to respond to the setback, captain Ben Dooley burst down the right well, but his cross found only the gloves of Charlie Monks in the Blackpool net.
Soon after, Holmes’ movement allowed him to find space down the right flank to cross to Luke Mariette, who headed his effort just wide of the left post.
Both sides were finding room in the opposition’s box – Apter attempted to chip Lombard at one end but didn’t put enough on the effort, whilst Rodwell-Grant went close with a strike at the other.
Blackpool took the lead when some good work down the left wing by Prince Yelegon won his side a corner, from which Fitzgerald tapped in.
The visitors were not looking to settle, and midfielder Tayt Trusty showed nice control in the box to work an opening, but shot straight at Lombard.
PNE fought back with Slater stinging Monks’ palms with a left-footed effort and Lewis Leigh testing the ‘keeper from distance, but the home side headed into half-time behind.
A substitution at the break saw Noah Mawene replace Aaron Bennett.
A bright start to the second 45 nearly brought an equaliser. First, Dooley played in Leigh smartly down the right, and Blackpool only just managed to clear his ball in. Then a cross from the left was deflected off a defender and could’ve gone anywhere, but ended up going wide.
It wasn’t long however before the lead was extended by Apter. The midfielder cut in from the right to the middle of the park and took aim from distance, placing a well-hit shot into the right corner of the goal.
There was nearly an instant response to the third when Dooley and Leigh combined once more and the latter’s powerful strike from the right of the box hit the outside of the post.
The end-to-end nature of the contest continued and Apter was denied by Lombard, who palmed his effort over the bar, before Mawene put too much on his shot after the ball had fallen to him on the edge of the box.
Holmes was denied by a Joe Blanchard block but Blackpool did score when Apter broke clear and found the net for his second.
Further changes were made by both teams with Mikey O’Neil and Dana de Oliveira Amaral taking to the pitch for the hosts in place of Rodwell-Grant and Dooley.
Mawene dinked a ball to the back post where Huddart was on hand to head towards goal, but the attempt was saved in what was the last meaningful action of the game.
Reflecting after the full-time whistle, Academy manager Nick Harrison said: “I think overall it was a poor performance and probably our worst of the season.
“Normally if it’s not a result that we wanted we talk about how we played well but we couldn’t take our chances, but I don’t think that was the case today.
“They’ve trained well all week, but they’ve got to do it when it matters and overall at the elite level, it matters when game day comes along, so that’s really disappointing.”
Harrison believes his side were made to pay by the visitors for the mistakes they made.
“I think Blackpool were very clinical so we’ve got to give them credit, but the goals come from really bad errors, whether that be from someone giving the ball away further up the pitch when they don’t need to, or just bad errors from individuals at the back,” he told PNE.com.
“Sometimes you get away with them and today we didn’t. At this level our players shouldn’t be making those mistakes – it’s simple passes, touches or decisions to make.”
In last week’s narrow defeat, Harrison had been encouraged by the fighting spirit his team had displayed. However, he felt this was lacking this time out.
“I think the positives are that we started both halves well, we moved the ball well and we looked threatening so that’s what we need to continue with and build on, but when it didn’t go right for us and we couldn’t find the answer, we kind of gave up and that’s not the mentality we want – it’s not acceptable.
“If you can’t score you’ve got to make sure you don’t give up and give the opposition easy goals. If it’s not going quite right, then we’ve got to keep going and young players can’t afford to give up.
“We’ve got to learn that we can’t afford to make mistakes at this level because we get punished and we’ve got to be more ruthless and keep at it.”
PNE U18 line-up: Lombard; Seary, Huddart, Blanchard, Slater; Dooley (Amaral, 68), Leigh; Nicholson, Holland-Wilkinson, Bennett (Mawene, 46); Rodwell-Grant (O'Neil, 68).
Subs not used: Mfuni, Duggan.
Referee: Mr J Gillett.
PNE U18 3 Accrington Stanley U18 0
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Preston North End U18s got back to winning ways after a 3-0 victory against North West Youth Alliance league opponents Accrington Stanley on Saturday morning.
First half strikes from Kyi Nicholson, Joe Rodwell-Grant and Ben Dooley were enough to secure all three points for the Lilywhites, playing under wet and windy conditions.
PNE started the game brightly, looking to put last week’s derby defeat behind them early on, and they almost got the opener of the game inside the first 90 seconds when Noah Mawene had an effort flash just wide.
Ten minutes later, PNE were starting to dictate the tempo of play and create chances, first through Joe Rodwell-Grant, and then a long-range effort from Ben Dooley had the keeper’ troubled.
The best chance of the opening stages fell to Jacob Holland-Wilkinson after he danced through the Stanley defence before striking the ball straight at Jack Buckley in the Reds' goal.
Accrington thought they had opened the scoring on 27 minutes only to be denied via a last-ditch challenge from Josh Seary.
The Lilywhites did go in front moments later after the ball fell nicely to Kyi Nicholson, who slotted coolly home through Buckley’s legs to break the deadlock.
Stanley responded well to going behind, forcing a crucial block from Joe Blanchard followed by a smart save by Oliver Lombard to keep PNE in a winning position.
The moment of the match came on 34 minutes after a long ball upfield was controlled expertly by Joe Rodwell-Grant. The in-form forward collected the ball with the outside of his heel before turning and unleashing a powerful shot into the bottom right corner.
North End had the ball in the net again a minute later after a smart attack but unfortunately this time it was ruled out for an offside.
As the first half drew to a close and the weather worsened, North End grew in confidence and added a third goal on 39 minutes. Ben Dooley found himself unmarked in the box and made no mistake with his effort, smashing it through the hands of the helpless Stanley No.1.
The Lilywhites' dominance continued in the second half as Dooley and Jacob Slater went close to adding a fourth for the hosts. Rodwell-Grant also had an effort tipped over the bar.
Stanley’s biggest chance of the game fell to forward Owen Davenport, who failed to get on the end of a tantalising cross by winger Oliver Patrick.
On 65 minutes, PNE made their first change of the game and it was a double switch for goalscorers Rodwell-Grant and Dooley, who were replaced by Mikey O’Neill and Dana Amaral.
Moments later, Academy manager Nick Harrison turned to his bench again, this time sending on Teddy Mfuni and Aaron Bennett in place of Noah Mawene and Lewis Leigh.
Welsh youth international Bennett almost made an instant impact, only to be denied by a sliding challenge by Stanley centre back Jasper Newton.
Bennett was at the heart of things again for North End when he was unlucky not to find the net with his great effort 10 minutes from time.
A rampant first half display and a professional second half performance from Harrison’s men secured the three points, and speaking after the game, youth team boss Harrison described the win as ‘a really good result’.
Nick said: “It was a really good performance and a really good result.
“We also had the bonus of a clean sheet, which is something I have been challenging the players to get as we have been conceding too many goals in the last few games, so of course I’m delighted with the clean sheet and the goals we scored.”
Nick reflected on Kyi Nicholson's opening goal as being a ‘vital moment’ in the win.
“We always like to challenge the players, so for them to respond and get the first goal of the game it was a vital moment for us.
“I think it gave the players the confidence to go on and create further chances throughout the game and we probably should have scored a lot more than we did.”
Harrison also spoke of the inclusion of the three U16 players in the starting XI; defenders Josh Seary and Jacob Slater, and midfielder Noah Mawene.
“This is something we have been doing all season," Nick continued.
“We want to accelerate the best players into the squad and give them a chance, so it was nice to see them perform and develop but I thought the senior players done a good job because sometimes they have to help the younger players.
“I thought every player played their part today and showed their quality when we needed them too.”
PNE line-up: Lombard; Seary, Huddart, Blanchard, Slater; Dooley (Amaral, 65), Leigh (Mfuni, 72); Nicholson, Mawene (Bennett, 72), Holland-Wilkinson; Rodwell-Grant (O'Neil, 65).
Subs not used: Duggan.
Referee: Mr L Corns.
PNE U18 2 Morecambe U18 1
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Preston North End U18s made it back-to-back wins on Saturday after a 2-1 victory against Morecambe in the North West Youth Alliance league.
Second half strikes from Joe Rodwell-Grant and Jacob Holland-Wilkinson were enough to secure all three points as Nick Harrison’s men continued their fine winning form.
A youthful starting XI, which included four U16s, was made-up of five changes from last week's win against Accrington Stanley, as schoolboys Kian Taylor and Kitt Nelson and second year scholars Teddy Mfuni, Dana Amaral and Mikey O'Neil came into the side.
Bryan Ly of Morecambe had the first chance of the game on seven minutes as he unleashed a thunderous strike that cannoned back off the inside of the crossbar and back into play, before the loose ball was cleared by Harry Huddart.
The Shrimps came close to scoring again moments later, only to be denied by the outstretched foot of Oliver Lombard in the North End goal. The visitors threatened again ten minutes later, striking the bar for the second time in the match.
As the half went on, PNE began to grow into the game and came close to scoring themselves on 25 minutes, Joshua Seary drilling an effort hard and low that was parried by the opposition 'keeper, unfortunately O’Neil couldn’t reach the rebound.
After a close encounter, similar to the first half of the previous meeting between the two sides back in September, the teams entered the half-time break goalless.
The Lilywhites started the second half on the front foot and immediately looked more comfortable playing with the wind on their side, after a tough first 45 playiJosh Seary: "We Had To Dig Deep"
Within the first ten minutes of the restart, PNE had two half chances to take the lead, first through Holland-Wilkinson who was denied via a last-ditch block, then through Amaral, who couldn’t generate enough power in his header to beat the 'keeper.
The game burst into life on the hour mark as PNE were awarded a penalty after Holland-Wilkinson was brought down by a Shrimps defender. Joe Rodwell-Grant made no mistake with the spot kick, sending opposition 'keeper Mendes the wrong way.
Two minutes later and the ball was on the penalty spot again, but this time it was the visitors who had the chance to score from 12 yards, and Ly dispatched expertly to make it 1-1.
The Shrimps looked to undo all North End's good work in a matter of minutes and almost took the lead, only to be denied by Lombard again, who was on inspired form to keep the scores level.
On 75 minutes, PNE went in search of a winner by introducing Levi Lewis for Nelson, as the Lilywhites pushed to turn one point into three.
Lombard, who had a busy game between the sticks, was called into action again, this time producing a fine double save to help set up a dramatic final ten minutes as both sides showed no signs of settling for a point.
As the clock struck 88 minutes, Rodwell-Grant looked like he had won it for the home side after he headed home from close range, only to be denied by the offside flag in what looked a very tight call, much to PNE's frustration.
But deep into added time, there was to be a winner and it was Holland-Wilkinson who supplied it, squeezing the ball home after a scrappy goal line scramble; no need for goal line technology for this one!
A strong performance from a young North End side ensured they came away with a much deserved three points.
Speaking after the game, Academy manager Nick Harrison said he was ‘pleased with his really young team’.
“I am really pleased with the performance,” said Nick.
“We had four U16 players starting the game, a game that was played in really hard conditions. It was very physical at times and we had to battle for every ball and our young players stood up to that.”
North End were much changed this week compared to last weeks fixture after Nick announced the squad had been suffering from injuries and COVID related absences.
“We have suffered a few injuries this week to some of the older lads, some lads are also self-isolating, so we have had to bring in a few of the younger players today, but they are more than good enough, as we have seen today; they took their opportunity.”
Building on last weeks win, Nick has high praise for his side’s performances, adding the only difference from their slight dip in from is that they have been more clinical in recent weeks.
“We have been taking our chances and stopping the silly goals we were conceding. In terms of the results, the performances have still been good.
“In the last two games the players have been more clinical and improved in them areas, we are always looking to progress, improve and challenge the players, and we will continue to do that.”
PNE line-up: Lombard; Seary, Mfuni, Huddart, Slater; Taylor, Amaral; O'Neil, Nelson (Lewis, 75), Holland-Wilkinson; Rodwell-Grant.
Subs not used: Wallbank, Pedley, Best, Green.
Referee: Mr J Wareham.
Fleetwood Town U18 5 PNE U18 1
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The youth side were defeated on the road at Fleetwood Town in the North West Youth Alliance league on Saturday.
North End took the lead through Jacob Holland-Wilkinson, who scored after Mikey O’Neil had picked him out in the box.
The home side turned the game around though, going ahead before half-time and extending their advantage after the break to win 5-1.
It was a much-changed side from the win against Morecambe, with Kyi Nicholson, Lewis Leigh, Joe Blanchard, Ben Dooley and Noah Mawene returning to the team.
A bright start saw North End win a free-kick in Fleetwood’s half within the first minute. Leigh opted to try his luck from the set-piece, but the goalkeeper claimed his effort.
The hosts quickly had the ball up the other end and their first attempt of the game was fired over the bar from just inside the 18-yard box.
The first major opportunity fell PNE’s way when a cross from the left was met by Joe Rodwell-Grant. His header found Mawene, who was brought down strongly, prompting penalty claims from the PNE frontline. Play was waved on though.
The promising opening continued with Leigh swinging in a corner and hitting the far post. The ball bounced back out and was cleared by the hosts.
The young Lilywhites were rewarded for their attacking endeavour when O’Neil put a teasing ball across the box, which Holland-Wilkinson controlled and then placed into the bottom right corner.
Chances for a second goal followed. Rodwell-Grant first crossed low after winning out against two defenders, but neither O’Neil nor Mawene could get a touch on the ball, and then minutes later, Mawene missed a one-v-one opportunity.
It was Fleetwood who scored next though. Cian Hayes beat the PNE defence to a cross and he turned in the box before firing into the net.
Left back Billy Batch then gave his side the lead, finishing accurately into the side netting with a left-footed strike after he’d been played through.
PNE could’ve been level at half-time, but Holland-Wilkinson’s shot from a corner was blocked on the line.
Josh Seary replaced Nicholson at the break in the first substitution from either team.
Shortly after the restart, Fleetwood capitalised on a mistake at the back and striker Enoch Takpe netted a third.
North End searched for a way back into the game and Seary placed a cross into the corridor of uncertainty, but no one in a blue shirt could get on the end of it to tap home.
Aaron Bennett came on for O’Neil and nearly had an instant impact. The ball bounced to the winger inside the box, but he failed to get his foot over it and his shot went over the bar.
A slice of bad luck saw North End fall further behind. Lombard produced a great save with his legs to stop a shot from close range, but Fleetwood worked the ball back out to the edge of the box and from there a shot took a crucial deflection for an own goal.
A double change saw Dana Amaral and Levi Lewis enter the fray, with Ben Dooley and Jacob Slater coming off.
Leigh went close with a strike from range, but Danny Edwards rounded off the scoring at the other end when he slotted home from inside the box.
Academy manager Nick Harrison felt his side should’ve been the side ahead at the halfway point of the game but were made to pay for errors at both ends of the pitch.
“It was a really strange and frustrating game,” he said. “We started the game really well and probably should’ve gone 2-0 up.
“Then I think we made some really schoolboy mistakes which leads to their first two goals. That gave them belief and confidence when it really should’ve been ourselves going into half-time with a brighter result.
“The game could’ve ended up 5-5. Both teams created chances, we didn’t take ours and Fleetwood were clinical and punished us.
“There was a lot of mistakes all the way round the pitch that led to their goals, some really poor decisions from us and the players lost their way a little bit.”
Harrison had a strong message for the youth side after the full-time whistle.
He added: “It’s not good enough to concede five goals, nowhere near good enough, and at the same time, we can’t keep missing all these chances, some really clear chances.
“Even in the second half, we put a couple of balls across the face of goal in the six-yard box that we’ve got to get on the end of.
“Goals change games and we can’t afford at this level to miss those chances and make the mistakes we did for their goals.”
The youth side are currently scheduled to have a two-week break from competitive action, next travelling to Accrington Stanley on 6th March, where they will be looking to bounce back.
“Anytime that you’re on the wrong end of a result you’ve got to go back to basics and keep working hard and believing,” Harrison continued.
“I thought there were some real positives from the game, we did create and we did dominate in parts, but we want the right results and a good performance throughout the game so that’s what we’ll keep striving to achieve.”
PNE line-up: Lombard; Nicholson (Seary, 46), Huddart, Blanchard, Slater (Lewis, 79); Leigh, Dooley (c) (Amaral, 79); O'Neil (Bennett, 68), Mawene, Holland-Wilkinson; Rodwell-Grant.
Subs not used: Duggan.
Accrington Stanley U18 0 PNE U18 6
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Noah Mawene struck a hattrick as Preston North End U18s earned an emphatic 6-0 win away at Lancashire neighbours Accrington Stanley.
The son of North End legend Youl Mawene was joined on the scoresheet by Joe Rodwell-Grant, Aaron Bennett and Ben Dooley, who all scored one apiece.
It was a strong response from the young Lilywhites after going two weeks without a league game, having lost last time out against Fleetwood Town, despite creating plenty of opportunities in front of goal.
Rodwell-Grant and Lewis Leigh retained their places from that day’s starting line-up, having both since enjoyed the experience of being substitutes for the first team in midweek at Millwall.
There were four changes to the side that faced the Cod Army a fortnight ago, though, as Josh Seary, Levi Lewis, Teddy Mfuni and Aaron Bennett came into the side for Jacob Slater, Harry Huddart, Mikey O’Neil and Jacob Holland-Wilkinson.
Huddart was the 21st man in the first team squad on Saturday for AFC Bournemouth’s visit to Deepdale.
Speaking after the victory, Academy manager Nick Harrison told PNE.Com: “The difference between the previous game was that we took our chances and were clinical. Yesterday, our performance was very good.
“On the ball, we passed it with purpose and we created lots of chances. The scoreline probably should have been more than six and obviously we protected our own goal and getting a clean sheet is just as important as scoring the goals that we did.
“Any time you get a clean sheet, it just gives you a platform for when you score goals which is how you end up winning games.
“That’s the challenge we pose to the players every session and every game, we want to work hard when we haven’t got the ball, work hard as individuals in a team and we want to score goals as individuals in a team. We did that in abundance yesterday, which is really pleasing.”
After seeing Mawene hit three of the six goals on the day, the Academy manager also spoke of his satisfaction to see the youngster flourishing, along with a number of U16 players getting their opportunity in the youth team this season.
“We’re really pleased for Noah, it’s something that we’re encouraging him to do is to score more goals – that’s five goals in his last three games now. It’s something that we’ll continue to challenge him with.
“What we have done this year is accelerated the growth of a number of U16 players. Yesterday, we had four involved again and I think that’s been the story of our season.
“There’s been a plan behind that; we only took 17 scholars over this period because we know we’ve got very good players coming from behind. It’s giving them the opportunity to play and they’re taking it.”
That has also seen opportunities for some scholars to train and travel with the first team this season, with Rodwell-Grant and Leigh not the only youngsters to have been among the substitutes for Alex Neil’s senior side this term.
Lewis Coulton and Jacob Holland-Wilkinson have also been on the bench for the first team earlier in the campaign, with Ben Dooley having the opportunity to travel and a number of other players training with the Lilywhites’ senior squad.
Nick added: “When some of the scholars get opportunities in and around the first team, that does open up places, but the spaces will always open up for players who are doing well, regardless of numbers.
“That’s the challenge for all the players, to be better than the people around you. It doesn’t matter what level, U18s or first team, that’s what football is all about. They’ve got to keep developing and keep pushing each other to progress and develop.”
PNE line-up: Lombard; Seary (O'Neil, 60), Mfuni, Blanchard, Lewis; Dooley, Leigh (Amaral, 46); Nicholson, Mawene, Bennett (Green, 60); Rodwell-Grant (Taylor, 67).
Subs not used: Duggan.
Referee: Mr J Ryan.
PNE U18 4 Port Vale U18 1
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Preston North End completed back-to-back wins in the North West Youth Alliance league following a 4-1 victory against Port Vale.
An own goal from Port Vale's Will Tam, Vaughn Green's strike and a Mikey O’Neil brace completed a professional performance from the young Lilywhites.
There were three changes from last week's resounding 6-0 win against Accrington Stanley, as Harry Huddart, Vaughn Green and Mikey O'Neil came into the side, with Joe Blanchard, Josh Seary and Noah Mawene making way.
PNE started the game well and had good spells of possession early on despite the harsh weather conditions. Bennett and captain for the day Lewis Leigh dictated the play for much of the opening stages.
And the home side's persistent early pressure prevailed, and they got the opening goal on eight minutes. Leigh produced a dangerous cross into the box that was converted into his own net by the helpless Tams.
Port Vale almost had an equaliser ten minutes later, springing Oliver Lombard into a smart save as he tipped a deflected header onto the bar, preventing what would have been another own goal.
The visitors looked threatening again going forward, this time clipping the outside of the post before Huddart cleared the danger.
Taz Chibaya did level it up for the away side just before half time after he curled an audacious attempt into the top corner.
Nothing separated the two sides at the break, but North End started the second half similar to the first, pressing and looking threatening every time they went forward, and their pressure was rewarded on 50 minutes.
Bennett dribbled towards the backline before threading a delicate through ball to O’Neil who converted coolly past the goalkeeper to reinstate the Lilywhites' lead.
Vale were unlucky not to be level again moments later after hitting the crossbar for the second time in the match.
As the closing stages of the game drew closer, PNE reasserted their dominance and regained a foothold in the game. Ben Dooley came close to scoring after good work from Levi Lewis, but his effort was just wide.
At the other end Lombard produced the best piece of defending of the match as he made a last-ditch sliding tackle – a challenge any centre back would have been proud of.
The only substitution of the game came with 20 minutes left to play as Ellis Jones replaced Rhys Waiters for Port Vale.
After a nervy final 10 minutes North End made sure of all three points with two minutes of regular time left to play - Vaughn Green calmy slotted home a one-on-one past Joe Collinge in The Vale goal.
It was the late-late show for Nick Harrison’s men as they added a fourth with the last kick off the game. Joe Rodwell-Grant so very often the goal scorer - turned provider for Mikey O’Neill as he had the easy task of heading home into an empty net.
Speaking after the game, Academy manager Nick Harrison reflected on what he said was a ‘well-deserved victory’.
He told PNE.Com: “It was another good result on the back of last week’s win, we showed a lot of our qualities today and you could see that from the goals we scored. It was a well-deserved victory but more importantly, I thought it was a very good performance.”
Despite having scored ten and conceded just one in their last two games, Nick said that his team are still constantly striving to improve.
“It’s a good stat,” he continued. “I do feel, though, that we could have prevented the goal we conceded, we were just a bit slow to get the block in to stop the shot.
“We are always looking at ways to create chances and score goals, we have done that well these past two games, but hopefully we can do that for the rest of the season.”
Nick also gave his thoughts on how well his side have developed so far this season.
“I’ve been pleased with how the team has developed so far throughout the season, what’s been most pleasing is we have been able to accelerate a number of young players throughout the year and they have developed well.
“We actually had two games today, we had the U18 and U16s, giving more players more opportunities and chances to play and progress.”
“Overall, I am pleased with how we have developed, I think we have played some really good football, although we have conceded some silly goals which we continue to work on, but in terms of our play and our approach, I am really pleased.”
North End will look to continue their winning run with a midweek trip to face Tranmere Rovers.
PNE line-up: Lombard; Nicholson, Mfuni, Huddart, Lewis; Leigh, Dooley; Green, Bennett, O'Neil; Rodwell-Grant.
Subs not used: Blanchard, Duggan, Amaral, Kelly.
Referee: Mr L Corns.
Shrewsbury Town U18 3 PNE U18 3
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A late equaliser denied the youth side all three points in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Shrewsbury Town.
North End took an early lead through Josh Seary but were pegged back by half-time after right back Jamie Spiers finished from inside the box.
The Shrews went ahead shortly after the break but Jacob Holland-Wilkinson scored an equaliser soon after, and Noah Mawene thought he had won it with his poacher’s goal, but the victory was snatched from the young Lilywhites’ hands at the death.
Seary and Mawene were the two midfield changes to the team from the midweek win against Tranmere, with Teddy Mfuni also coming in at the back.
The visitors were rewarded for a bright start in Shropshire when Aaron Bennett capitalised on a loose touch and played through Seary, who pushed into the box and slipped the ball past Jaden Bevan in the hosts’ goal.
Holland-Wilkinson will have felt he could’ve doubled the advantage when he took Mikey O’Neil’s pass smartly and worked an opening, only to shoot straight at Bevan.
Spiers drew his side level just before the half hour mark, powering a strike into the back of the net after he’d been played in on the right side of the box.
As half-time approached, striker Tom Bloxham tried his luck after turning onto his right foot on the edge of the box, sending his dipping effort just wide.
An injury-enforced substitution saw Vaughn Green replace O’Neil at the interval.
There was an instant setback for the young Lilywhites in the second 45 when Nigel Aris’ deflected shot went in, despite the best efforts of Joe Blanchard and Mfuni.
They were straight back in it though five minutes later thanks to an impressive attacking move. Mawene flicked the ball around the corner to Green, who drove forward and fed Bennett in the box. He crossed low to Holland-Wilkinson, who tapped home.
At the other end, Blanchard got back in the nick of time to block Charlie Caton’s attempt away for a corner.
The resulting ball in caused danger in the PNE box and Oliver Lombard was on hand to save point-blank from Spiers, and then also claim Edan Sears’ shot.
The pressure stayed high but the defensive resolve remained, with Blanchard this time clearing off the line with his head.
The end-to-end action didn’t let up and Mawene was next to go close. Levi Lewis smartly took a free-kick quickly, chipping it into the box, but the youngster couldn’t keep his volley down.
He didn’t have to wait long to make amends though. A corner was taken quickly to Green, who floated a cross to the back post, where Seary headed back into the six-yard box. Holland-Wilkinson stabbed it goalwards, and Mawene was quickest to react as he prodded in to give PNE the lead for the second time.
The next change for the Lilywhites saw Lewis replaced by Lewis Coulton at left back, who is building up his game time after a spell on the sidelines.
Shrewsbury continued to bombard the North End goal and Sears went close again, hitting the post with a header.
Dana Amaral came on for Bennett and was straight into the thick of it, going into a 50/50 with William Thomas, which saw the latter sent off for a second bookable offence.
An inspired Lombard produced heroics to protect the lead as the clock ticked down. First, he threw out a strong hand to stop Aris’ fierce shot, and then he flew sharply down to his left to deflect what looked a certain goal onto the post.
North End looked to counter after the corner was claimed by Lombard. His long throw played in Amaral, who sprinted into the box, but put too much on his chipped effort.
The visitors were then dealt a cruel blow in the last minute of normal time as another Lombard save fell back to the striker, and he netted to ensure it was honours even in the North West Youth Alliance league.
Despite heartbreak at the end, Academy manager Nick Harrison was delighted with how his side performed.
“I think we’ve got to take the positives from the game, I think we do,” he said. “We created a number of really good chances. We score three goals, and two of those coming from two U16 players.
“We’re probably three senior players injured, and I thought all in all it was a large part of the game where we played really well.
“The way that they played and passed the ball and created the chances is the right way to develop players at the level that we’re looking at, and I think they did that in abundance today.”
Although conceding three goals would’ve been a disappointment for the young Lilywhites, their defensive performance was one that they can be proud of, and also one that Harrison feels will serve them well in the future.
“Credit to Shrewsbury, they made the game really difficult, were very direct and played to their strengths, and created a number of chances, but I’m pleased with the way that the boys defended at times.
“We brought a couple off the line, Oliver Lombard also made a few saves, which is sometimes what you have to do so I’m pleased in terms of that.
“It’s obviously disappointing that we conceded in the last minute. I think the players have got to learn to go to an away game, a long trip, winning the game 3-2, they’ve got to learn to see that out, and for the most part they did it’s just when it really matters in the final minute.
“The message at the end was very positive, and hopefully something that the younger players, like we’ve got two young first year scholars at the back at centre half, and that’ll be a game that they can learn from. Definitely a game to learn from.”
PNE line-up: Lombard; Nicholson, Mfuni, Blanchard, Lewis (Coulton, 72); Dooley, Mawene; Seary, Bennett (Amaral, 78), O'Neil (Green, 46); Holland-Wilkinson.
Subs not used: Duggan.