The youth team were made to pay for a four-minute period, in which their opponents scored twice, as they fell to a 3-1 home defeat against Rochdale.
Fabio Tavares and Aaron Morley scored within a matter of moments of each other midway through the first-half, although Adam O’Reilly reduced the arrears with a fine effort just before the break.
The Lilywhites conceded a third late on with James Neild completing the scoring.
Rochdale made the brighter start to the game and could have gone ahead inside two minutes but for James Cottam’s excellent work, the North End stopper brilliantly denying Florian Yonsian in the box.
Tyrhys Dolan shot from outside the box moments later after a neat exchange with Jerome Jolly but it was straight at Rochdale ‘keeper Fryatt.
Dolan struck wide from a similar position moments later, that after O’Reilly had a tame effort collected from a corner.
North End looked to be growing into the game, but then came the visitors’ quick double salvo.
In the 22nd minute, Luke Matheson played a neat one-two to get to the right byline and whipped a low ball across to the back post, where Tavares applied a simple finish.
And four minutes later, it was 2-0. The visitors won a free-kick out wide on the left, just outside the box, and Morley managed to curl it over the wall and into the near bottom corner.
As had been the case before conceding, the Lilywhites improved as the game went on and halved the losing margin right before the break.
It was a fine move which saw Dolan slip a pass between the right back and centre-back for O’Reilly, who moved one-on-one against Fryatt, slotting the ball into the bottom right corner.
Jolly also went close before the interval with a curling right-footed effort drifting just wide of the right-hand post.
The second-half proved quieter in terms of clear chances, although there were a couple at either end, as North End’s share of possession grew.
Neil Kuemo looked the biggest threat for the visitors as he cut inside from the right and unleashed at goal, Cottam getting a strong hand to it but needing a defender to clear amid a scramble.
Ethan Walker and Lewis Coulton were introduced after the hour and to decent effect, the wide pairing helping the Lilywhites to increase the pressure on the Rochdale backline.
Kuemo went close again with less than a quarter on an hour to go, curling an effort just wide of Cottam’s right post from 20 yards.
Coulton then had a golden chance inside the final ten minutes after Walker provided a pinpoint delivery from a wide right free-kick, but the young forward – still with the club’s U15 side – was unfortunate with his controlled volley just edging over the crossbar.
It proved a crucial moment, Dale then extending their lead in the 84th minute. It came from a similar position to their second goal as Morley delivered a free-kick into the box, but centre-back Neild this time connected with a deft header to take it past Cottam.
Kamol Campbell struck wide and O’Reilly straight at the ‘keeper in the closing moments as Dale secured the win.
Youth team manager Nick Harrison said his players application was pleasing but that the quality to match was not evident throughout the 90 minutes.
“Our lads’ effort was very good but the quality and decision making wasn’t quite there,” he told PNE.com. “We’re disappointed to lose the game because both teams had the same amount of chances.
“They started more brightly than us, which is disappointing because that put us on the backfoot and the goals we conceded put us further on the backfoot. We found ourselves 2-0 down but that was against the run of play somewhat because we had a couple of chances prior to them scoring
“When you find yourselves 2-0 down early on in the game it always becomes difficult, but I thought the players responded really well. The move for our goal was fantastic, it was a great move from Tyrhys [Dolan] and Adam [O’Reilly] showed good composure to score.”
"At half-time, we went in being the better team towards the end of that first-half and went back out and played on the frontfoot. We had some chances at 2-1 that we feel we should have put away and we give another silly free-kick away and we get done on the back post for their third goal.
“I think there was patches of the game we were really pleased with and the players’ effort was generally very good, I just thought giving the two free-kicks away and not getting our positioning quite right has contributed to us losing the game.”
Harrison said the players can right the wrongs of this game with further application.
“We’ve reviewed the goals on the video and they’re avoidable by someone not conceding a free-kick or a player being better positioned. We’ve gone through that already and hopefully the players can learn from that.
“We have generally played well in recent games – we didn’t against Walsall on Saturday – but that’s one game out of maybe seven or eight. We were okay today, we had moments where we did open them up and should have done better.
“The outcome of this game has been determined by some naïve decisions but these are things the players can rectify and we hope to see that in the next game.”
PNE line-up: Cottam; Ngongo, Day, Armer, Campbell; O’Reilly, Baxter; Simmons (Walker, 62), Pollard (Coulton, 71), Jolly; Dolan. Subs not used: Lenton, Huddart, Rodwell-Grant.