PNE U18s eased into the semi-finals of the LFA Youth Cup with a resounding victory over Morecambe“They came into a team that was playing well which always helps. I could hear the senior lads encouraging them to get on the ball and enjoy it, so that’s great to see because it means you’ve got good professionals with a great team spirit.”
“I’m a big advocate of bringing players through and to have them playing and training with us, they all equip themselves well. That was Livesey’s fifth game with us, Bradley Wicks and Jack Williams came on in the second half and it’s great to be able to do that. They fitted in really well.
He added: “We had three U16s involved today which was really good because we want to push players and see how good they are and if they can make the step up.
Alexander was also delighted to be able to field younger players to great effect in the match.
“It was really pleasing to watch, we created numerous chances and there were some really good performances.”
“We could have scored a few more goals but at half-time I was more bothered about keeping a clean sheet. In the past we’ve dominated games but given away a goal here or there and it’s come to bite us. We had to put that right and we did that really well today.
Speaking to PNE.Com, the manager said: “I didn’t think we started particularly well today but after the first 20 minutes we came into the game and I thought we bossed it right until the end.
After the quarter-final victory, Youth boss Graham Alexander felt that his team put in a solid, dominant performance after a slow start.
A header from the towering striker Josh Amis was parried into the path of the onrushing captain Davies who reacted well to strike the loose ball into the net, sealing the impressive victory.
Less than a minute later, Preston found their deserved fourth goal of the game.
Defender Kuba Kuba hit an acrobatic overhead of from 20 yards out that was destined for the net before Johnson leapt across to palm away the danger.
Another sustained period of pressure nearly saw North End score a fourth in stunning circumstances.
A goalmouth scramble ensued from a Kuba Kuba cross, resulting in Croasdale coming so close to adding to his tally as he prodded against the post in the 56th minute.
The Lilywhites picked up from where they left off in the second period as they looked to offer no way for Morecambe back into the game.
Quality teamwork from Sowerby and Zibaka reaped rewards again as the former’s cross was cleverly flicked by the striker into the path of Croasdale, the midfielder tapped in from close range to send North End 3-0 up at the break.
The constant threat of the home side throughout the first half paid dividends as they dealt Morecambe a demoralising blow on the stroke of half-time.
The striker immediately curled an effort that ricocheted off the post and away to safety, much to the relief of the visitors.
Livesey was the provider on this occasion as he showed excellent strength and control to create room on the edge of the area before sliding the ball across to Zibaka in plenty of space.
The Lilywhites continued their relentless pressure and came agonisingly close to stretching their lead further in the 35th minute.
Morecambe defenders Luke Selby and Chris Doyle couldn’t deal with a long ball played up towards Livesey as they collided, leaving the youngster with a clear run at goal as he calmly slotted past the goalkeeper and into the corner.
This was the catalyst for North End to stamp their authority on proceedings and this was highlighted ten minutes later when the energetic Livesey doubled their lead.
A dangerous cross-field pass from Sowerby released Zibaka down the left flank, the striker remained composed as he rounded Johnson before slotting the ball into an open net.
Just minutes later, the pair’s persistence paid off as they broke the deadlock.
The midfielder slid an accurate 20-yard pass through to the frontman who saw his shot from an acute angle saved by Sean Johnson.
North End started to pile pressure on the visitors as the combination of Jack Sowerby and Zibaka nearly found the opener in the 18th minute.
Matthew Knipe hit a defence-splitting pass that found Edward Gate, the striker couldn’t quite capitalise on the opportunity as he scuffed his attempt against the post.
Despite the dominance from PNE for large periods of the match, the home side began on the back foot and nearly fell behind after five minutes.
Brandon Zibaka, Sam Livesey, Ryan Croasdale and Ben Davies all found the net in a match where the Lilywhites were unfortunate not to score more.