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Kick off 10:30 (UK)

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02 September 2017 Venue Unavailable Attendance

Kick off 10:30 (UK)

Preston North End U18
1 - 3
Blackpool U18
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Match Reports

PNE U18 1 Blackpool U18 3

3 September 2017

The youth team tasted defeat for the first time this season on Saturday, falling to a 3-1 home loss against Blackpool.

Nathan Shaw and Finlay Sinclair-Smith gave the visitors a two-goal lead at the break, Rowan Roache then extending the advantage from the spot on the hour.

Harry Garstang headed in a reply for North End five minutes from time, but it proved to be no more than a consolation.

Either side could have taken the lead early on, Shaw curling a shot straight at goalkeeper James Cottam from the edge of the box before Alex Wood’s side-footed volley drifted just wide of the opposing goal.

It was the visitors that took the lead, though, as Shaw cut inside from the right and drilled a low shot into the bottom left corner with nine minutes gone.

The Lilywhites kept possession well but were often thwarted in attack, Garstang going closest midway through the half after Hafizul Rahman’s mazy run forwards, but the former scuffed his shot.

Blackpool made it two after 31 minutes. Roache moved into space in the centre and laid it off for Sinclair-Smith to his left, who curled a first-time shot low into the far corner from just inside the area.

Few chances followed for either side before half-time, but North End began to look more threatening following the interval.

Jack Baxter shot wide on the half-volley from distance, and Tom Stead then glanced a header wide from the former’s free-kick.

Ethan Walker stung the goalkeeper’s gloves from range and Oscar O’Neil almost pulled back a superb individual goal less than ten minutes into the half, but his low shot trickled just wide of the bottom left corner following an impressive run to the edge of the box.

However, it was again the visitors that grabbed the next goal after Sinclair-Smith earned his side a penalty following a late challenge in the area. Roache stepped up and although Cottam dived the right way, the effort went too high into the right corner for the ‘keeper to reach.

O’Neil again went close following a powerful run but struck just wide once more, this time of the bottom right corner.

The Lilywhites did manage to pull one back in the dying embers, and deservedly so for their efforts in the second period.

Wood delivered a fantastic whipped cross from the right flank for Garstang, who glanced a header past the goalkeeper and into the far left corner.

However, the scoreline remained unchanged at the final whistle, and youth team manager Nick Harrison felt his side were just lacking something in the final third during this contest.

“I thought we dominated possession which is pleasing in some respect, but we didn’t have any real goal threat,” he told “We got into some good areas but we either played a bad pass, hit the first man with our crosses or just didn’t get a shot off.

“I’m pleased that we dominated possession, and we’ve said that to the players at the end of the game, but you’ve got to keep possession for a reason and when you get the chance to open up, you’ve got to take it. When we had the chance for somebody to drive at the back four or to play a ball in behind, we didn’t take them and we opted to pass it again.

“It was a good ball into the box [for PNE’s goal], but it was probably the first time we missed the first man.

"If you look back at the video of it, we had loads of chances where we got it out wide into good positions but the quality of the cross just wasn’t quite there, and that can be difference.”

Harrison also suggested that all three of the visitors’ strikes were a result of the hosts’ own attacks breaking down.

“If you look at all three of the goals we conceded, they probably start from our attack and us giving the ball away. When they got the ball in the final third, they took their chances.

“I think they probably had four chances in the game and scored three, whereas I feel we got into their final third on a number of occasions but didn’t show enough devilment to go and score goals.

“We’ve got to be better in the final third by making better decisions and show more quality, and we’ve also got to defend the counter attack better as well.”

The youth team manager stressed that it’s now all about responding properly for the young Lilywhites, who are in next action away to Wigan Athletic next weekend.

“You’ve got to react by winning the next one and finding the right way to win the next one.

“The challenge for the players now is to have a good week of training and to go into next week’s game against Wigan Athletic with the confidence and belief that we can play the right football and try to hurt them in the final third, score goals and win the game.”

PNE line-up: Cottam; Ngongo (Walker, 46), Fensome, Stead, Campbell (Armer, 46); Smart (Dolan, 46), O’Neil, Baxter; Wood, Garstang, Rahman (Mason, 70). Subs not used: Horton.

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