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Kick off 11:00 (UK)

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4-1
13 March 2021 Venue Unavailable Attendance

Kick off 11:00 (UK)

Preston North End U18
4 - 1
FT
Port Vale U18
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Match Reports

PNE U18 4 Port Vale U18 1

13 March 2021

Preston North End completed back-to-back wins in the North West Youth Alliance league following a 4-1 victory against Port Vale.

An own goal from Port Vale's Will Tam, Vaughn Green's strike and a Mikey O’Neil brace completed a professional performance from the young Lilywhites.

There were three changes from last week's resounding 6-0 win against Accrington Stanley, as Harry Huddart, Vaughn Green and Mikey O'Neil came into the side, with Joe Blanchard, Josh Seary and Noah Mawene making way.

PNE started the game well and had good spells of possession early on despite the harsh weather conditions. Bennett and captain for the day Lewis Leigh dictated the play for much of the opening stages.

And the home side's persistent early pressure prevailed, and they got the opening goal on eight minutes. Leigh produced a dangerous cross into the box that was converted into his own net by the helpless Tams.

Port Vale almost had an equaliser ten minutes later, springing Oliver Lombard into a smart save as he tipped a deflected header onto the bar, preventing what would have been another own goal.

The visitors looked threatening again going forward, this time clipping the outside of the post before Huddart cleared the danger.

Taz Chibaya did level it up for the away side just before half time after he curled an audacious attempt into the top corner.

Nothing separated the two sides at the break, but North End started the second half similar to the first, pressing and looking threatening every time they went forward, and their pressure was rewarded on 50 minutes.

Bennett dribbled towards the backline before threading a delicate through ball to O’Neil who converted coolly past the goalkeeper to reinstate the Lilywhites' lead.

Vale were unlucky not to be level again moments later after hitting the crossbar for the second time in the match.

As the closing stages of the game drew closer, PNE reasserted their dominance and regained a foothold in the game. Ben Dooley came close to scoring after good work from Levi Lewis, but his effort was just wide. 

At the other end Lombard produced the best piece of defending of the match as he made a last-ditch sliding tackle – a challenge any centre back would have been proud of.

The only substitution of the game came with 20 minutes left to play as Ellis Jones replaced Rhys Waiters for Port Vale. 

After a nervy final 10 minutes North End made sure of all three points with two minutes of regular time left to play - Vaughn Green calmy slotted home a one-on-one past Joe Collinge in The Vale goal.

It was the late-late show for Nick Harrison’s men as they added a fourth with the last kick off the game. Joe Rodwell-Grant so very often the goal scorer - turned provider for Mikey O’Neill as he had the easy task of heading home into an empty net.

Speaking after the game, Academy manager Nick Harrison reflected on what he said was a ‘well-deserved victory’.

He told PNE.Com: “It was another good result on the back of last week’s win, we showed a lot of our qualities today and you could see that from the goals we scored. It was a well-deserved victory but more importantly, I thought it was a very good performance.”

Despite having scored ten and conceded just one in their last two games, Nick said that his team are still constantly striving to improve.

“It’s a good stat,” he continued. “I do feel, though, that we could have prevented the goal we conceded, we were just a bit slow to get the block in to stop the shot.

“We are always looking at ways to create chances and score goals, we have done that well these past two games, but hopefully we can do that for the rest of the season.”

Nick also gave his thoughts on how well his side have developed so far this season.

“I’ve been pleased with how the team has developed so far throughout the season, what’s been most pleasing is we have been able to accelerate a number of young players throughout the year and they have developed well.

“We actually had two games today, we had the U18 and U16s, giving more players more opportunities and chances to play and progress.”

“Overall, I am pleased with how we have developed, I think we have played some really good football, although we have conceded some silly goals which we continue to work on, but in terms of our play and our approach, I am really pleased.”

North End will look to continue their winning run with a midweek trip to face Tranmere Rovers.

PNE line-up: Lombard; Nicholson, Mfuni, Huddart, Lewis; Leigh, Dooley; Green, Bennett, O'Neil; Rodwell-Grant.

Subs not used: Blanchard, Duggan, Amaral, Kelly.

Referee: Mr L Corns.

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