Ethan Walker’s late stoppage-time goal sealed a victory for Preston North End reserves against Fleetwood Town in the Central League Cup.
Walker opened the scoring for the Lilywhites at Euxton after 28 minutes, finishing after good work from Joe Rodwell-Grant, who later doubled the scoring from a spot kick.
The visitors then came back into it in the second half, equalising in the third minute of added time, before Walker produced a superb solo goal to give his side the win.
There was a quiet opening to the game, with the first real chance for either side coming 24 minutes in, as Matthew Olosunde found Jacob Holland-Wilkinson with a cross from the right, but his flick goalwards was kept out by goalkeeper Luc Rees.
He did well a few moments later, too, to initially keep out Walker’s effort, after he’d been found in the box following good work from Rodwell-Grant, but Rees couldn’t keep out the rebound as Walker opened the scoring.
PNE didn’t have to wait too long for their second of the afternoon, as they were given a chance to score from 12 yards after Adam O’Reilly’s cross had struck the arm of Akile Raffie, and up stepped Rodwell-Grant to power home to the goalkeeper’s left.
At the other end, Raffie had Fleetwood’s first shot of the game when he saw his free-kick comfortably saved by Mathew Hudson.
Before the break, North End could have had a third were it not for great defending by a Fleetwood trialist, who denied Walker and Rodwell-Grant who looked to get on the end of captain Greg Cunningham’s cutback.
The Cod Army pulled a goal back in the opening stages of the second half, with a trialist sending a 25-yard free-kick right into the top corner, giving Mathew Hudson no chance.
PNE took the opportunity to bring a number of U19s on as substitutes in the second half, with the likes of Jacob Slater and Vaughn Green getting a chance to play with members of the first team.
Fellow U19 Lewis Leigh, who started the game, was forced off with an injury after 78 minutes meaning North End had to play the remainder of the tie with ten men.
Goalkeeper Hudson was called into action a couple of times before the equaliser came, making a smart stop to deny Raffie before then making an acrobatic save from a volley inside the area.
The goal did come for the visitors before time was up, though, with Raffie taking the ball out of the sky to volley home and seemingly earn a draw for his side, but Walker had other ideas, picking the ball up and running towards goal and expertly finding the far corner to earn the victory for North End.
PNE line-up: Hudson; Rafferty, Lindsay, Blanchard (Mfuni, 70); Olosunde (Green, 61), Leigh, O’Reilly, Cunningham (Slater, 61); Holland-Wilkinson (Pemberton, 74), Rodwell-Grant, Walker. Subs not used: Lombard.
Fleetwood line-up: Rees; Jones, Bird, Trialist B, Trialist A; Trialist D, Boyle, Raffie; Edwards, Trialist C (King, 70), McMillen. Subs not used: Eastham, Thompson-Prempeh, Marsh, Johnson.
Referee: Mr M Mitchell