Preston North End U18s rounded off 2012 in perfect style with a 5-1 win at Lancashire rivals Blackpool.
Late chances for Blackpool didn’t cause any hard as PNE cruised to the full time whistle and a 5-1 win, duplicating their result from the opening day of the season.
From then on there was only one team in it and Preston made their intent known when another long ball from Anderson found Zibaka who slotted home his second goal of the morning. The seventeen year old from Camden completed his hattrick and Preston’s goal haul when his 75th minute shot exploded into the top left hand corner of the Blackpool net for his 14th goal of the Young Alliance League campaign.
Preston did however reap their rewards in the 53rd minute when Zibaka pounced on a mistake by the Blackpool defence to intercept a pass and put Croasdale through on goal. The Lilywhites captain sprinted clear of the Tangerines back four and fired his shot beyond Connor Hunt in the Blackpool goal to put his side three-one ahead.
North End came out firing on all cylinders after the break and almost doubled their lead straight away. Nick Anderson’s long ball was controlled expertly by Zibaka who turned on a six pence and produced a powerful shot which was saved well by the Blackpool ‘keeper.
Challenges continued to be aggressive from both teams and North End paid the price when right back George Gray was injured following a high foot from Blackpool’s Mark Waddington. Gray was replaced by Josh Brownhill and Waddington was booked for his efforts. PNE were unable to add to the score line as the away side went into half time with a slender advantage.
Preston looked the livelier of the two sides for the remainder of the half and might have been three-one ahead had a contentious offside decision gone Zibaka’s way.
The Tangerines then carved out a scoring opportunity of their own when they were awarded a free kick on the left hand side of the Preston penalty area. North End struggled to clear the ball and were helpless when Louis Cross steered home a fiercely hit square ball to make the score 2-1 in the 23rd minute.
The Lilywhites proceeded to dominate the first half and chances for Adam Thurston, Croasdale and Zibaka could have put the game out of sight. Although, an injury to Matt Greenwood forced a substitution for the away side when the midfielder suffered what seemed to be mild concussion after being struck in the head by a Blackpool clearance.
North End’s Sam Livesey and Zibaka played on the Blackpool defenders’ shoulders, using their pace to offer the Preston midfield easy through balls all morning. Sowerby took advantage of one such opportunity when his pass slid beyond the Tangerine back line and met Zibaka who powered the ball under the home side’s ‘keeper to make it two-nil after just 12 minutes.
The game had all the hallmarks of a local derby as tackles flew in during the early minutes. One particularly tough foul by Cole on Preston captain Ryan Croasdale earned him a talking to from the referee.
Their first shot on goal quickly followed when Deon Charles tested Steven James who was up to the task of saving the low drive.
The hosts were angered to have been denied a penalty in the fifth minute when forward Ade Cole slalomed his way through two Preston defenders, only to go down in the box and be told to get to his feet by the referee.
Preston were buoyed by their early dominance and almost doubled their lead just a minute later. Tricky winger Matt Greenwood used some clever footwork down the left by-line and squared to Zibaka who was unlucky as the ball bobbled up in front of him, causing his shot to fly over the crossbar.
North End soon made amends for the miss when attacking midfielder, Jack Sowerby, was played clean through on goal, rounded the oncoming Pool keeper and slotted the ball home to make it one-nil to the visitors after just two minutes.
Starting on the front foot, North End opened the Tangerines up from kick-off as Zibaka broke free in the first minute only to fire his shot wide.
Striker Brandon Zibaka continued his impressive scoring record with another superb hat trick which helped the Lilywhites to victory.