North End’s youngsters warmed up for their FA Youth Cup quarter-final tie against Southampton with a thumping 6-1 victory over Walsall U19s in the Midlands.
Early goals from Finlay Cross-Adair and Kacper Pasiek got PNE off to a flying start, before the hosts pulled one back, but an own goal put North End two ahead going into the break.
Ethan Eccleston, a second from Pasiek, and a late header from substitute Theo Carroll then put the gloss on a comfortable victory for the U19s.
PNE started the game on the front foot, with Pemberton forcing a good save from the home goalkeeper, before Cross-Adair saw a header from six yards out deflected just over the bar.
Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile, starting upfront with Cross-Adair, broke through on eight minutes, but was denied by Jenson Kilroy in the home goal, as he produced a smart one-on-one stop.
Kian Best, who had shown his quality from set pieces in recent weeks, went close again from long range, but Kilroy scrambled across goal to keep the ball out.
However, the opener finally arrived on 17 minutes, when Cross-Adair fired a penalty into the bottom corner to give the Lilywhites a deserved lead and, within a minute, it was two, as Josh Seary sent a fantastic diagonal ball across to wing back Pasiek, who ran on and finished.
The visitors halved the deficit ten minutes before the break through Noah Rubio, but PNE’s two-goal cushion was restored on the stroke of half-time, when the Saddlers put the ball into their own net to make it 3-1 to North End at the interval.
It took less than five minutes for three to become four after the break; Eccleston was found by Cross-Adair in the area, before firing right-footed into the top corner of Kilroy’s goal.
He had been a spectator for much of the game, but Ryan Hogarth, on his first start, made a fine save to tip an effort over the bar and within minutes it was five; Pasiek at the double, with a shot across goal, that went in off the right-hand upright.
Hogarth was at it again with a superb double save on 74 minutes, denying Walsall from a free-kick, before reacting quickly to get up and prevent the rebound from being fired home.
The final goal of the side’s half dozen came with six minutes to go when Carroll – who had replaced Kitt Nelson on the hour mark – was found in the box by Rio Pemberton, and he fired home from close range.
This was the last of the action, as North End comfortably saw out the remaining minutes for a positive afternoon.
PNE line-up: Hogarth, Seary, Pasiek, Kamara (Taylor, 82), Wallbank, Best (McGhee, 20), Eccleston, Pemberton, Cross-Adair, Nelson (Carroll, 59), Rodriguez-Gentile. Subs not used: Davis, Mawene.