A last-gasp Lyle Magolis header gave North End’s U18s their second win in as many games, continuing their positive start to pre-season with victory over Fleetwood Town.
The forward’s second goal in pre-season was, surprisingly, the only goal of an action packed encounter.
The goal grabbed a deserved win for North End, whose high energy and perseverance from the first whistle to the last was rewarded in the dying minutes.
Fresh from their three day break in Wales, North End produced a frenetic start, setting the tone for an intriguing tie, with the first of many efforts on goal falling to Tyler Forbes.
Joe Whittington turned and twisted away from two Fleetwood Town defenders and whipped a dangerous ball to the back post where Forbes made good contact but saw his header loop harmlessly over the opposition goal.
Jack Ryan then went close soon after, harrying the Fleetwood defender into a mistake, before nicking in and, in an attempt to catch the keeper off guard, sent his shot the wrong side of the post.
Fleetwood started to create chances of their own however, and twice before the interval, forward Aiden Wainwright’s efforts were foiled by shot-stopper, Ross Dalton, with Wainwright’s second effort producing Dalton’s best stop of the match.
Pouncing on to a hopeful long ball, the striker took a touch before unleashing a menacing low-drive which Dalton got down to expertly and palmed wide of the post.
Preston began to be troubled by Fleetwood’s high pressing and were unable to reproduce their fluent possession of the ball, as had been showcased in last weekend’s win over Tranmere Rovers.
Wingers Forbes and Whittington proved an ample enough threat to keep their opponents worried however, and it was Whittington again whose menacing trickery created another Preston opportunity.
The wide man’s cross fell kindly to returning full-back Nick Anderton, whose thunderbolt effort was tipped spectacularly over.
Captain Josh Brownhill’s dead-ball delivery was an ever occurring problem for Fleetwood, who were troubled all morning by the midfielder’s precise crossing.
Jack Ryan nearly took advantage of one of Brownhill’s many wicked deliveries into the penalty area. The powerful frontman eased aside Fleetwood’s flailing centre-half, meeting the cross with a header which, via a deflection, bounced off the post.
It wasn’t long after half-time that Brownhill was causing confusion in the Fleetwood backline. Another free-kick was met by centre-half Bradley Roscoe whose header produced a wonderful reflex save from the Fleetwood goalkeeper.
Sean Holmes then pounced on the rebound but his shot was thwarted by a brilliant goal-line clearance and the game stayed goalless.
The scorching heat led to a lull in the game, with both sides giving away possession cheaply. Fleetwood did bring the game back to life, carving out two good opportunities which saw winger, Kurt Willoughby produce two rasping efforts, both of which sailed just over Dalton’s bar.
But, Preston continued to plug away and it was clear the young lads had benefitted from their three day break in Wales.
Sam Livesey was released down the left, producing a strong run to the by-line, before chipping the ball over a stranded Fleetwood keeper to find Lyle Magolis who happily nodded the ball home for the game’s winning goal.
The young Lilywhites did however survive a late scare. An in-swinging cross from the left, found Town’s unmarked Jake Porter, whose header crashed off North End’s crossbar.
Academy Manager, Nick Harrison, refused to get carried away with the win and stressed the importance of continuing to gel as a team, “We’re pleased to have two clean sheets. We’re pleased to have two wins but we’re not looking at a league table or anything.
"It’s just about giving the players an opportunity to improve their fitness levels and just get used to playing as a team.”
Fleetwood’s visit also saw a return of a familiar face, former Preston favourite, Youl Mawene.
The popular Frenchman is now gaining work experience as a coach for the Cod Army’s U18’s and was delighted to return to his old stomping ground, “Obviously, I am walking in and I feel as though I’m home…The training ground looks magnificent and the club is looking in good shape”.
The ex-PNE defender was also impressed by North End’s youngsters, “In terms of intention, they were really positive going forward. It is promising for the future.”
Preston travel to Carrington on Tuesday afternoon to face Manchester United in what is sure to be their toughest challenge of pre-season, and they will hope to build on a solid start to their season’s preparations.