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Kick off 19:30 (UK)

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2-1
02 May 2023 Venue County Ground Attendance

Kick off 19:30 (UK)

Preston North End
2 - 1
Accrington Stanley
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Match Reports

Match Report: Accrington Stanley U18 1 PNE U18 2

2 May 2023

Preston North End U18s were crowned champions of the Lancashire FA Professional Youth Cup after a 2-1 victory over Accrington Stanley.

Finlay Cross-Adair opened the scoring at the County Ground after 55 minutes and later netted a penalty to give his side a two-goal lead.

Kian Best was sent off in the 83rd minute and Owen Devonport scored to threaten a late comeback for Stanley, but it was North End who lifted the trophy.

It was a hectic start to the match as both sides had chances in the opening ten minutes. James Pradic was required to keep out a flick-on from Kian Best which was heading into the back of his own net, before Kaedyn Kamara then fired towards the far corner at the other end, forcing Max Clayton into a smart stop.

Pradic was needed again on 12 minutes to deny Harley Lawton, who broke through one-on-one, and Clayton came up with another good save himself to deny Kian Taylor.

Noah Mawene had a couple of presentable opportunities for North End, firstly after Cross-Adair had found him in the area but Clayton managed to keep it out, before the PNE skipper then headed against the crossbar just after the half-hour mark on the end of Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile’s cross.

Three minutes into the second period Lewis Trickett nearly broke the deadlock for Accy, taking the ball out of the sky and hitting an effort a matter of inches wide.

At the other end, Nelson had two efforts kept out in quick succession after being found by Rodriguez-Gentile, having a shot blocked and then saved by the ‘keeper.

North End did find the opener on 55 minutes, though, as Finlay Wallbank intercepted a loose ball and glided forward before slotting Cross-Adair through on goal, and he made no mistake slotting home across the ‘keeper.

Cross-Adair nearly had an assist to his name five minutes later when he found his strike partner Rodriguez-Gentile six yards out, but the youngster sent his effort over the bar.

Pradic maintained his clean sheet in the 65th minute when it looked like he was going to be beaten, saving well to his left to frustrate Trickett, and captain Aaron Pickles headed wide from six yards just moments later.

PNE couldn’t have come much closer to finding a second in the 76th minute when both Slater and Mawene struck the post, but the former then won his side a penalty within the same attack after being brought down by Brad Kelly. Cross-Adair stepped up to take the spot-kick and drilled it into the roof of the net.

North End were reduced to ten men in the 81st minute when Best was shown a second yellow card, and Stanley got a goal back a few moments later when Devonport headed beyond Pradic.

Cross-Adair had a chance to secure his hat-trick with just a few minutes left on the clock, sending his effort just wide, before Pradic came up with a huge late save to deny Harper’s effort which was heading for the top corner.

Stanley were really pushing for a late equaliser and so nearly had it through Devonport, but Taylor came up with a crucial header off the line to ensure it was his side who became champions.

Accrington Stanley line-up: Clayton; Kelly (Procter, 85), Smith, Pickles, Newton; Henderson, Poilly; Lawton (Gough, 59), Trickett, Harper; Devonport. Subs not used: Rogerson, Young, Hall.

PNE line-up: Pradic; Wallbank, Taylor, Best; Seary, Kamara, Mawene, Nelson (Wilson, 90+3), Slater; Cross-Adair, Rodriguez-Gentile (Pasiek, 82). Subs not used: Davis, Horan, Eccleston.

Referee: Mr E Murray.

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