Preston North End's U19s were 1-0 winners against Carlisle United thanks to captain Harry Nevin’s last gasp winner in the Youth Alliance League.
Nevin’s late winner was enough to see North End walk away with all three points at a sunny Springfields in what was a crucial game at the top of the table.
Manager Nick Harrison made four changes from the team that defeated Bolton Wanderers in the Youth Alliance Cup sectional final last weekend. Lewis Leigh, Noah Mawene, Teddy Mfuni and James Pradic were switched out and in came Oliver Lombard, Finlay Wallbank, Vaughn Green and Jacob Holland-Wilkinson.
The Lilywhites started the game on the front foot, Aaron Bennett broke forward through the middle, he played through Holland-Wilkinson but his effort was well blocked.
After a big challenge from Nevin, Green was played through on goal, he opened up his body and fired towards the bottom left-hand corner, but it went wide of the post.
Bennett was involved in everything positive for North End and he fired an effort from the edge of the area which was well saved by the keeper.
North End were really dominating the ball, but the chances were few and far between.
The last chance before half-time fell the way of Mikey O’Neill, his first-time volley from the edge of the area forced a great reaction save from the Carlisle 'keeper.
The Lilywhites started the second half as they ended the first, Josh Seary burst down the right and lofted a ball into the area which was fired over by O’Neill.
The second half was very similar to the first, North End dominating possession without many chances being created as the Carlisle defence stood strong.
Holland-Wilkinson had to be replaced after struggling with cramp and Finlay Cross-Adair was the man chosen to come on.
Bennett was once again involved in everything positive, he danced around multiple Carlisle defenders but when it came to the shot, he couldn’t get a connection on it to trouble the 'keeper.
North End continued to push for the winner and certainly looked the most likely to get it.
North End made a second change as the game entered the final 20 minutes with Green replaced by Kitt Nelson.
The Lilywhites had a golden chance to win it, O’Neill weaved his way through the Carlisle defence, but his effort was fired straight at the keeper.
Right at the death North End were able to grab the winner they deserved. A great free-kick routine saw Finlay Wallbank play O’Neill down the right, he fizzed the ball across the box and Nevin was there at the back post to tap home.
Just a minute later the referee blew the full-time whistle as North End picked up a huge three points in the race for the title.
Speaking after the game, Nick Harrison said: “I thought it was a very challenging game.
“It was very sunny, very humid for the players, Carlisle stuck to their game plan and made it difficult for us.
“What I am pleased about is the way the players kept going, we had a lot of the ball and just overall dominated.
“I thought we showed some great passages of play to create chances I just felt we were lacking that final little bit of quality to put the ball in the back of the net.”
This win marked nine wins in a row for North End who sit top of table and Harrison credited his players for their impressive form.
“It’s great, I give every credit to the players for being in this position,” Harrison continued.
“All I'm interested in is the progression of the players and seeing them develop and get better and working hard.
“If that means we win a lot of games then brilliant, this is youth development, getting players to that next level is what we’re going to keep striving to do.”
PNEU19 are back in action next Saturday as they travel away to Oldham in the Youth Alliance League as they attempt to make it ten wins in a row.