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PNE U18s 3 Walsall U18s 2

24 September 2012

Preston North End U18s battled to a thrilling victory against Walsall U18s on Saturday morning...

“It’ll be another tough game when Fleetwood come here next week. We’re looking to win the game because our players have a winning mentality but we must make sure that everyone improves their individual performances, if we get that then we’ll get a very strong team performance and that’s what we’re looking for.”

The manager said: “I’m always looking for improvement. We’ll take both the offensive and defensive positives from today and look to improve on every aspect possible. 

Looking ahead to next week’s clash with Fleetwood Town, Alexander said he’s looking to build on today’s performance by getting the side to work hard through the upcoming week to improve the team further.

“We’ve stressed the importance of practicing attacking and defending set-pieces and I feel that’s paid dividends. We’ve scored two from them and haven’t conceded from any today,” he added.

Alexander was also pleased with his strike pairing of Amis and Zibaka: “If you play two strikers and they both score to get you the win then you’ve got to be happy. Those two are always going to cause problems for any defence, along with Jack Ryan.

“It’s still early in the season with a new bunch of lads, we’re still progressing a lot on the training pitch. I think the lads can take a lot from this win against decent opposition.”

There’s been a few times where we’ve given leads away and had to respond to it, I want to get us to the stage where we don’t have to respond and we control the game when in the lead.

“Once we went 2-0 up I thought we should have controlled the game a little bit better, we opened the door for them. The lads responded really well though and I can’t take anything away from their team spirit.

He said: “I’m pleased with the way we played today. Walsall are a decent team too, they were very worthy opponents.

Speaking to PNE.Com after the match, satisfied Youth boss Graham Alexander praised both sides for the way they performed.

It was Preston who were piling all of the pressure on late into the match as they went in search of another goal before time was called on an impressive performance from the Lilywhites. 

The tall frontman rose to nod a cross towards the corner of the goal, only to be prevented by the stretching arm of Jones who made an impressive save.

A period of stalemate ensued as neither side could forge any clear-cut chances until Amis nearly grabbed his hat-trick in added time.

An inviting corner from Tyler Forbes was glanced into the far corner by the striker who wheeled away in elation with his teammates.

The score wasn’t tied for long as Zibaka stepped up to put Preston rightly back into the lead in the 68th minute.

Preston defender Ben Davies was judged to have fouled Danny Griffiths in the 18-yard box. A penalty was awarded that Heath coolly slotted into the bottom-right corner.

The half-time whistle didn’t slow the pace of the game whatsoever as Walsall levelled matters in the 49th minute.

Walsall nearly undid their own good work in the 38th minute. Midfielder Jake Heath completely misjudged Tyler Forbes’ cross from the left and sliced his attempted clearance against his own crossbar.

Reece Flanagan began a mazy run inside from the left wing, the midfielder avoided several challenges before hitting a 20-yard drive past Tom Quinn to make it 2-1.

Walsall responded in a more positive fashion on this occasion and shortened the lead as quickly as six minutes after Preston’s second goal.

Josh Brownhill found space down the right flank before drilling a dangerous ball towards the six-yard box. Amis had once again positioned himself well and tucked in the cross to double his and Preston’s tally.

Walsall struggled to react in the way that they would have desired and they found themselves two goals behind in the 27th minute.

The forward was composed and sent a deft flick over goalkeeper Richard Jones to open the scoring.

Poor defending from Walsall allowed a ball played deep from the Preston defence to find the feet of Amis in behind the visitor’s backline.

North End asserted themselves in the match as soon as proceedings got underway, their bold approach paid dividends as they broke the deadlock as early as the 9th minute.

A first-half brace from Lilywhites striker Josh Amis was cancelled out by the visitors before a header from Brandon Zibaka snatched all three points for Preston.

Subs: Jack Ryan, Steve James, George Gray, Joe Whittingham, Alan Scurry.

PNE: Quinn, Kuba Kuba, Anderton, Amis, D.Forbes, Davies, T.Forbes, Croasdale, Zibaka, Brownhill (Gray, 88), Greenwood. 

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