The youth team eased to a comfortable 4-0 win over Accrington Stanley in an accomplished display.
Jack Armer broke the deadlock after 15 minutes with a powerful close-range effort and Adam O’Reilly curled a fantastic strike into the top corner just under 20 minutes later.
Josh Pollard capitalised on a goalkeeping error to make it three early in the second-half before Mike Howard completed the scoring with 67 minutes on the clock having only just come off the bench.
Playing at their usual home venue of UCLan Sports Arena, the Lilywhites were officially the away side for this one, absolutely dominating possession in the early stages.
Stanley got the first meaningful shot away, though, as Callum Roberts held onto Joel Mills’ long-range strike.
But North End’s pressure in the final third paid off a minute later. Lewis Simmons’ strong challenge advanced on the right was the catalyst for the opener, winning it back to cross and after a few men failed to connect with it, Armer powered it into the roof of the net at the back post.
The game began to open up thereafter, both sides having more chances as Garstang struck straight at goalkeeper Toby Savin from 25 yards.
Lewis Fensome headed over from Pollard’s corner shortly after and at the other end Roberts tipped wide Lewis Gilboy’s low strike from the edge of the box.
Stanley very nearly levelled it up with the half hour approaching but North End managed to clear after Josh Hmami’s superb free-kick hit the inside of the post.
However, PNE went one better shortly after with a fantastic strike from O’Reilly. Tyrhys Dolan picked out the Irishman in the corner of the 18-yard box and he then hit a perfectly placed shot into the far, top right corner.
Pollard nearly made it three moments later, forcing Savin to turn his 20-yard effort behind.
The hosts were also close before the break when Mills placed a first time effort just over after a flowing move from the back.
North End continued to dominate after the interval and shortly after Armer’s cross deflected onto the bar, they did extend their lead in the 52nd minute. It was a goal of Pollard’s own making – he was alert to intercept Savin’s clearance and slot it into the bottom right corner from a few yards out.
And 15 minutes later, the Lilywhites grabbed another. PNE ‘keeper Roberts provided the assist as substitute Howard rushed onto his long pass, rounded Savin and finished into an empty net.
Oscar O’Neil swept a low shot towards the corner to draw another from Savin while Roberts stopped Gabe Ellis’ strike from close-range, his efforts leading to treatment on the field immediately after.
Roberts was able to continue and hold on for his clean sheet, having little to do thereafter, although PNE might have added further gloss to the scoreline late on.
Pollard struck on the bounce from the edge of the area but Savin saved again, and he produced another stop deep into stoppage time to deny Howard after a fine pass from Garstang.
It ended 4-0, and youth team manager Nick Harrison was pleased with his side’s performance at both ends of the pitch.
“We’re really pleased to get back to a clean sheet first and foremost because we struggled with that in the last game against Fleetwood [a 3-3 draw],” he told PNE.com
“As a team, that was a hurdle we wanted to overcome and all the players contributed to that. Clean sheets are our first aim and if we can get those, we feel we have the quality in the group to score goals.
“Obviously, to score four is really pleasing and we were a lot more clinical today. I’m really pleased with the work rate of the players today and I thought they played some really good football.”
Despite the comprehensive margin of victory, Harrison felt his side could have won by more and said they would continue working to improve.
“We were a little disappointed that we didn’t create more chances when the game opened up.
“On a few occasions, we felt that we didn’t take chances to penetrate them and score more. That’s what we’ll challenge the players to do on a regular basis – not to take our foot off the gas and if we can score five, six or seven, then even better.
“I thought we took our chances really well but I thought we had opportunities to create more chances and that’s something we’ll continue to work on.”
North End had four different scorers on the day and with Armer netting the first, he became the young Lilywhites’ tenth different scorer of the campaign – another point of encouragement to take from the contest for Harrison.
“It’s fantastic, we’ve got good players who have got goals in them. We want to see that more and more and it’s brilliant to get two players from midfield on the scoresheet and a full-back getting into the box and scoring.
“I think it really showed today that we were intent on attacking and getting players forward, and I thought we were much more clinical in taking the chances.”
PNE line-up: Roberts; Simmons, Fensome, Day (Stead, 46), Armer (Jolly, 78); O’Neil, O’Reilly (Brannigan, 78); Smart, Pollard, Dolan (Howard, 65); Garstang. Subs not used: Cottam.