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Kick off 11:00 (UK)

20 January 2018 Venue Unavailable Attendance

Kick off 11:00 (UK)

Blackpool U18
2 - 5
Preston North End U18
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Match Reports

Blackpool U18 2 PNE U18 5

21 January 2018

Connor Simpson scored a hattrick as the youth team beat Blackpool 5-2 in an entertaining derby clash.

The striker broke the deadlock just seven minutes in but Dylan Sumner cancelled out his opener five minutes before half-time.

Adam O’Reilly put the Lilywhites back in front early in the second-half but Blackpool were level five minutes later thanks to Finlay Sinclair-Smith’s finish.

But two goals in three minutes from Simpson immediately restored North End’s lead and Mike Howard completed the scoring with a late fifth.

Simpson almost fashioned the opener out of nothing after five minutes, taking it past three men on his way into the box before shooting straight at goalkeeper Harvey Simson.

But two minutes later, the striker opened the scoring. Lewis Fensome’s pass cleared the Blackpool defence and Simpson’s strike proved too powerful for Simson to hold.

Simpson was denied again by Simson before ten minutes had passed, with Blackpool first threatening when Sinclair-Smith finished into the bottom corner from the left flank, only to be thwarted by the offside flag.

Ethan Walker had a free-kick palmed away and Blackpool countered with Emil Jaaskelainen down the left, the forward crossing for Rowan Roache at the back post where his volley was superbly saved by James Cottam.

Midway through the first-half, Jack Baxter was inches from doubling the lead when his free-kick thumped the crossbar.

Blackpool settled slightly thereafter and after seeing Simpson have another attempt stopped, the Tangerines equalised in the 40th minute. Nathan Shaw crossed in from the left and a couple of failed attempts to clear took it into Sumner’s path, who slotted home at the back post.

That brought about the start of a strong period from PNE as Walker curled wide before the break while Charlie Lyons, Tyrhys Dolan and O’Reilly all tried their luck within five minutes of the restart, the former shooting straight at Simson while the latter duo struck wide.

Dolan then stole possession in the Blackpool box but Simson reacted brilliantly to save before PNE deservedly went back in front after 57 minutes.

Walker regained possession with a sliding challenge on the halfway line, the winger then driving down the left and picking out O’Reilly just outside the box who found the top left corner with a magnificent strike.

That marked the start of a frantic ten minutes or so, as Blackpool levelled matters in the 61st minute. Roache found Sinclair-Smith with a cutting pass into the box where the forward placed a first-time effort beyond Cottam.

North End were immediately back in front, though, making it 3-2 after 62 minutes. Dolan raced down the left and drew Simson off his line, allowing him the space to pass to an unmarked Simpson to score.

And in the 65th minute, Simpson netted his third. The striker met Dolan’s right-wing cross with a classy finish past Simson at the near post.

Simpson could have scored a fourth soon after when Fensome found himself in space on the left wing and crossed well into the box, but the striker headed straight at Simson.

Roache curled a free-kick just wide from 20 yards and both ‘keepers saved well in the final moments, Simson first stopping Howard with his feet while Cottam palmed Sincair-Smith’s shot wide.

With Blackpool down to nine men due to a couple of injuries, North End got their fifth in the 87th minute when Simpson crossed low from the right and Dolan and helped it onto Howard at the back post, who side footed in from minimal distance.

Nick Harrison was delighted with another fantastic display from his players.

“It’s obviously a fantastic result for the players,” the youth team manager told “We’ve had three good performances since the start of the year, we lost to Wigan but I thought that was a very good performance and the same last week against Rotherham and again in this game.

“It was a local derby for the players and those always tend to be competitive games. It was a really good performance, especially in the first 20 minutes, where I felt we created numerous chances and should have been ahead by more than one.

“It’s pleasing that we scored the first goal because that’s important, but maybe not hitting the back of the net on the other occasions gave them a bit of belief. The first goal we conceded came from us just being a little undisciplined.

“There was only one team in it in the second-half, though, and the scoreline could have been even greater by the end. We’re pleased with the performance and I thought every single one of the players performed really well today.”

Harrison also praised hattrick goalscorer Connor Simpson and the fellow attacking players’ combination play, with all of the front four involved in at least one of the goals.

“It’s a great first game for Connor in a Preston North End shirt and we’re really impressed with him. I felt the play from those around him, in terms of getting the ball into him and that support and movement, was really good too.

“All the players linked up really well, especially the three furthest forward nearest to the striker, I thought they combined brilliantly. When the ball went into Connor, the movement off him was great.

“We’re pleased to have won the last two and we want that to continue because winning is a great habit, but the players need to keep performing and improving. We will look back on this game and show them that there is still room for improvement even though we scored five and won the game.”

PNE line-up: Cottam; Day, Fensome, Stead, Lyons; O’Reilly (Simmons, 83), Baxter; Walker (Garstang, 76), Dolan, Howard; Simpson. Subs not used: Armer, Lenton, Mason.

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