Preston North End U18s were unfortunate in defeat as they were beaten 1-0 away by Bury at the Abbey Stadium.
The loss was the youth side’s first set back in five games but, despite the result, there were plenty of positives to take away from the game for the academy players and staff.
Both sides started the game brightly with highly charged battles coming in the midfield area. The talent of the two vibrant young sides was on show, with North End and the Shakers eager to get on the ball and attack with intent.
In the early stages of the match, Bradley Roscoe sent a long ball forward and nearly produced a good opening chance for Jack Ryan, but Jonathan Barber in the Bury goal was alert and collected the ball.
With the game being end to end, the Shakers came back at Preston through Matthew Cook, who looked threatening from set pieces, but the Lilywhites were able to deal with the danger he posed.
Preston tried to break through the Bury defence by getting Joe Whittington on the ball, after he had shown some neat skill against the home side.
Attacking movement also came through the impressive Sam Livesey, who completed his second 90 minutes this week, as he continues his return from injury.
The only goal of the game came in the 26th minute, Scott Burgess threaded a neat ball through to Navid Nasseri who slotted the ball past Dalton in the Preston goal.
Lyle Magolis, who has been playing regularly for the youth side of late, showed relentless energy playing as a number ten in the away team attack, working hard defensively also.
Preston started off the second half on the front foot with a free kick in from Whittington, which was saved by the 'keeper.
Whittington was again involved just minutes later when his dipping effort went narrowly over the bar.
Adam Robinson entered the fray for Preston, with more U16 players making the transition to the U18 side, after George Boyd's cameo appearance against Fleetwood on Wednesday.
Robinson was superb when he came on, mostly drifting out wide, and gave Preston some fresh attacking options against a stubborn Bury defence.
The Lilywhites pushed hard for the equaliser and were creating chances throughout the match but Livesey and Robinson looked the most likely to make something happen in the latter stages.
Livesey was unlucky when attacking down the left and cutting in as the Bury 'keeper got a hand to his shot.
One of the final chances of the match, when Robinson crossed in towards the back post, came to nothing as no one managed to get on the end of the cross.
An unlucky day for the U18s and they will look forward to the next league match when they take on Carlisle at Victory Park.
Nick Harrison said post match: “I thought it wasn't our greatest game and we could have performed better. We had plenty of chances to get back into the game and even go onto win it.
“I think we struggled to pick the tempo up and get the ball forward and really hurt them. They got plenty of men behind the ball and made it really difficult for us but we've got to learn from it today and break teams down.”
On Sam Livesey's return and inclusion of numerous U16 players Harrison said: “It's great for Sam we want him to get on the scoresheet, which he didn't do today but it's great for one or two today that haven't played before and have got 90 minutes.
“That's what it's all about giving them game time and helping them to develop and become better footballers
“It's one of our philosophies we want to try and promote from within. We've got a good group of under 16 players.
“Young Adam came on today and he was one of the best players in the second half, he really effected the game. He had a couple of crosses and shots and we've got some good players at every level and if we can get them involved then great.
“The players have to analyse how they could have played better and we want them to play football in the right way.
“It's important for the players to learn from defeat and learn how to go and win the next game.
George Gray said post match: “First half I wanted to get forward more and support the play but it didn't work. Second half I thought I put some decent balls into the box
“Looking forward to the next game, I want to be positive and correct our mistakes and play well.
“Adam Robinson was great and probably the best player on the pitch in the last 15.”
Preston North End: Dalton, Gray, Quigley, Scott, Sampson, Roscoe, Livesey, Wicks, Ryan, Magolis, Whittington
Subs: Holmes, Hudson, Forbes, Hagon, Robinson.
Bury: Barber, Cook, Potter, Cliffe, Poscha, Bickett, Burgess, Dickinson, Dudley, Nasseri, Shaw
Subs: Kuroinghan, Keane, Willis, Kennedy, Gibson