A Brandon Zibaka penalty and a goal from Jack Sowerby gave the young Lilywhites the three points in their first competitive game of 2013 on a tough trip to the Potteries.
Having not played a league game since December 8th the U18s could have had plenty of excuses for being rusty, but they showed their ability to come from behind to defeat the Valiants with two second half goals.
The sides traded penalties, Zibaka dusting himself down having been felled in the box to level the home side’s opener, before Sowerby converted U16 winger Sam Livesey’s cross to give PNE the victory.
Speaking after the game, Academy Manager Nick Harrison was delighted to have returned from the extended break with a positive result: “We conceded a penalty about ten minutes into the second half, having been goalless at the break. They scored and then we won a penalty of our own when Brandon [Zibaka] was put through by Jack Sowerby and then cleaned out as he tried to shoot.
“Brandon picked himself up and scored and then we won the game when Jack converted a Sam Livesey cross. The win and the goals were thoroughly deserved. We had a high percentage of the game, in terms of chances and possession, we just couldn’t put the ball away.
“It’s strange to only be playing our first league game after the winter break in mid-February, but we’d played a lot of our games prior to the break. We have had a number of friendly games organised which has enabled the lads to keep a certain competitive edge, because they have approached those games in the right way. It is strange to play so late, but I think the lads were ready and prepared.”