Nick Harrison’s U18s got their season off to a flier with a 2-0 win away at Accrington Stanley thanks to goals from Eddie-Louis Dsane and James Boyd.
The youth team and in particualr Dsane, on debut, made the dream start with a goal from their first attack of the game.
There were just two minutes on the watch when the 17-year-old got onto a ball over the top and evaded the Stanley defence, before firing beyond Chris Evans and into the back of the net.
The home side looked to overcome the early shock and muster a response, with Nathan Webb firing an effort just wide, but in wet conditions clear chances were few and far between.
Watched from the sidelines by Harrison and U18 coach Andy Fensome, Preston tested Evans’ handling with some probing balls into the box before the keeper did well to hold on to a long range drive from Bradley Wicks.
At the other end Ross Dalton made his first meaningful save from a Webb header before home midfielder Hickey limped off forcing the introduction of Callum Walsh and a reshuffle in Accy ranks.
The last opening of the half was Webb’s but his 25 yarder flew over the top.
Half-time brought another enforced Stanley change with Gunner replacing Smyth who’d suffered a facial injury.
Upon the restart the visitors were once again fast starters with Evans forced into a save after Dsane latched onto a loose backpass, but it was to be a temporary reprieve.
Just four minutes into the second period it was 2-0, with first year scholar James Boyd producing a calm low finish to double the deficit.
Going two down prompted a Stanley resurgance with the persistant Webb denied by Dalton, Jack Hartley thwarted inside the box and Dieter Downey driving over the top.
It looked like being a comfortable win for PNE in testing conditions, Luke Pritchard going close with an arrow of a drive that was cleared off the line by John Roberts, but the East Lancashire outfit had time, through Hazeldine, to round the Dalton on the break from Pritchard's effort, but slipped at the crucial moment and the chance had gone along with the points back to PR1.
PNE line-up: Dalton, Smith, Whelan, A J Robinson, Sampson, Roscoe, Roberts, Wicks, D’Sane, Boyd, Pritchard. Subs not used: Quigley, Hudson, Maglois, Jagne.
Accrington Stanley line-up: Evans, Wolfenden, Roberts, Smyth (Gunner, 46) (Hazeldine, 76), Downey, Hartley, Hickey (Walsh, 34), Quansah, Webb, Steenson, Scarth.
Speaking after the final whistle Academy boss Nick Harrison was thrilled with the efforts at both ends of the pitch, with a clean sheet to match the brace and solid performance.
“It was great to win our first game and see the lads play so well,” said Harrison.
“It was also pleasing to keep a clean sheet – and that’s down to the 11 out there on the field not just the defenders because we worked really well as a team today.
“We’ve had five weeks before this first game - not just the lads who played today but all the lads in the squad have done really well in that time - they’ve worked really hard, and they made picking the first eleven today difficult.”