Preston North End U18s suffered a slender defeat to Lancashire neighbours Burnley at Springfields on Saturday morningHe said: “I was very happy to give the youngsters a chance to play and show their quality, I’ve been impressed with these players and it’s great to have them competing and pushing for starting places.”
Alexander was delighted to hand exciting young prospects Sowerby, Quigley and Livesey opportunities to showcase their talent.
“If these performances along with the individual qualities shine through then you win games, it’s down to boys, whether they want to win or not.”
Speaking to PNE.Com, Alexander said: “All I’ve done as a player, as a coach or a manager is take the next game as a match I want to win. We want the lads to improve as individuals and we want the performance to show that they’re capable of being professional footballers.
The U18s manager looked ahead to the Cup tie as another match that he wants to win and isn’t prioritising between competitions.
“We always train hard. We’ve got the FA Youth Cup game with Gateshead so we’ll be preparing for that and learning from mistakes starting Monday. It’ll be another really tough game. They beat a good Wrexham side and they’re a very good team themselves so we have to certainly improve on what we showed today at the minimum,” the Youth boss added.
When asked if the coming week would involve tough training, Alexander felt that there would be a high level of intensity and hard work as always with the FA Youth Cup clash against Gateshead on Wednesday.
“Our thought our defenders got tested and stood up to it well but I don’t think we tested their defence enough. We just didn’t offer enough and we only had two or three opportunities at best.”
He said: “It was a massive disappointment and there’s a really flat feeling because that was totally different to what we’ve been producing for the last three or four weeks. We were deservedly beaten today. If we had got away with a point then we would have been extremely fortunate.
After the game, Youth boss Graham Alexander offered some positive and negative thoughts on the game.
The only other slight opportunity that fell to Preston came in the first minute of added time. Brandon Zibaka received the ball down the right flank before hitting a rasping drive wide in frustration.
A long, hopeful ball played from deep by Burnley was beyond the head of Daniel Forbes as it reached Gilchrist. The frontman utilised the momentum of the pass to flick the ball over Forbes before striking a powerful half-volley into the top corner to shock the Lilywhites.
It took a brief moment of technical brilliance to separate the sides and it arrived with two minutes remaining.
As the final whistle approached, it looked as though the points would be shared.
The Lilywhites nearly found the net through the electric Tyler Forbes in the 78th minute. The winger raced down the left flank, leaving defender Charlie Holt in his wake, before rifling a shot that flashed across the face of goal and flew inches wide.
Jack Sowerby received possession 25 yards from goal, showing composure as he turned and curled a dangerous effort destined for the top corner. Unfortunately for Preston, Burnley goalkeeper Callum Jakovlevs leapt across and tipped the ball around the post.
It was on the eve of the hour mark where either side came close to scoring for the first time in the second half.
Desperation crept in as Burnley had unconvincing claims for a penalty turned down by the referee. James attempted to hit a clearance before it was blocked by Gilchrist, the striker then tumbled to the floor under a challenge from the goalkeeper but play was waved on.
The second half continued in a similar manner, with very little threat to open the scoring.
The Clarets nearly ended the first half stalemate on the stroke of half-time. A misplaced ball from Adam Thurston allowed Gilchrist space to run at the defence. The striker laid the ball across to Luke Daley who couldn’t position himself well to hit a powerful shot as he mustered a poor effort that was easy for James to collect.
The defences of both teams remained resilient in the first half while Burnley proved to be more than worthy opponents as they pressed for the opener.
Burnley winger Evan Galvin hit a weak, speculative effort from 25 yards that didn’t trouble Steven James as he palmed the danger away, before a dry period in front of goal ensued for both sides.
The first half was starved of goalmouth action, with both goalkeepers barely being tested.
U16 players Luke Pritchard, Sam Livesey and James Quigley were all involved, with the former two playing a half each.
A stunning late goal from Jason Gilchrist stole all three points for the Lilywhites’ rivals after what was a tight affair throughout the match.