Preston North End U19s ran riot in a 7-0 demolition away against last season's champions Fleetwood Town U19s.
A Lewis Leigh stunner saw North End take the lead after just three minutes with Finlay Cross-Adair’s first goal of the season and a penalty from Mikey O’Neill extending the visitors’ lead to 3-0 at the break.
Second half goals from Jacob Slater, Dana Amaral and Vaughn Green, as well as a Fleetwood own goal, completed the rout for the Lilywhites as they recorded a resounding victory along with their first clean sheet of the campaign.
There were several changes made to the side that won at Bradford the previous week, with Leigh, Declyn Duggan and Lewis Coulton all returning to the starting XI and right back Josh Seary also made his return to the team after injury.
Leigh justified his inclusion at holding midfield almost immediately with a spectacular low drive from all of 30 yards out that arrowed into the far corner and fired PNE ahead with just three minutes on the clock.
On seven minutes, Cross-Adair doubled his side’s advantage as he scrambled the ball home from a free-kick, grabbing his first goal of the campaign.
After an explosive start to the game, with the rain pelting down, there was a period where neither side could create any clear-cut chances.
However, the visitors managed to win a penalty on the brink of half-time and O’Neill made no mistake from 12 yards, making it 3-0 to the Lilywhites at the interval.
With such a comfortable lead, manager Nick Harrison was able to alter the team somewhat with Joe Blanchard and Green replacing Teddy Mfuni and Rio Pemberton for the second half.
PNE remained on top after the break and substitute Green looked to have scored within a minute of play resuming, but an offside Cross-Adair was judged to have interfered with play and the goal was ruled out.
However, there was no chance of Slater’s ferocious strike being chalked off seven minutes later, as the left midfielder was found with an incisive pass from Amaral and fired home from a tight angle.
Kian Taylor entered the fray a few minutes later, replacing Seary, who had performed well in his first start in six weeks.
The scoreline became 5-0 two minutes past the hour mark as Cross-Adair was slid through expertly by Leigh and saw his shot saved well by the Fleetwood ‘keeper, only for him to push the ball into the path of his unfortunate defender who could only divert it into the back of his own net.
Kitt Nelson replaced Slater immediately after the own goal, meaning every outfield player in the PNE squad got at least 25 minutes of action.
The hosts’ best opportunity came on 68 minutes when their corner was cleared to the edge of the area where it was met by a sweet volley from a Fleetwood defender which only just went wide.
With just under ten minutes left, North End bagged their sixth as Amaral’s looping header from the edge of the area somehow found a way into the net and just a minute later, Green scored the goal he’d been longing for after six months out with injury, with a hard shot at the near post.
The match ended with the Lilywhites as the dominant 7-0 victors at Poolfoot Farm, extending their impressive record to six wins in their last seven matches.
Speaking to PNE.Com after the match, Academy manager Nick Harrison hailed the performance from his side as ‘outstanding’.
He said: “I’m just delighted with the performance. We created a lot of chances and scored a lot of goals. We were outstanding when we didn’t have the ball and I thought we were outstanding when we did have the ball.
“The lads worked hard, the attitude throughout the game was brilliant, in difficult conditions with the weather and everything. I thought the players were outstanding today.”
Harrison also spoke highly of the players who came on in the second half and said he was pleased to have been able to hand each player sufficient game time.
“We’ve got a few players coming back from injury,” he said.
“We need to think about individuals and get them on the pitch, a lot of that was planned before the game anyway.
“It was good to see some of the injured players coming back and well done to them. When all the subs came on I thought they impacted the game really well.”
PNE line-up: Duggan, Seary (Taylor, 56), Coulton (C), Leigh, Mfuni (Blanchard, 45), Nevin, Pemberton (Green, 45), Amaral, Cross-Adair, O’Neill, Slater (Nelson, 63)
Unused subs: Pradic