The PNE Academy suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of Oldham Athletic after seeing a 2-0 half-time lead slip through their fingers.
But the young Lilywhites conceded from three corners, undoing all of their hard work in the opening period.
Central defender George Edmundson was on hand from two of the set pieces, grabbing a brace, before Callum Scullion completed the Latics’ comeback.
Manager Nick Harrison was disappointed with the manner in which the U18’s let their lead slip.
He said: “We didn’t compete in the second half especially from the set plays, that’s the only thing we can put it down to.
“Oldham wanted to get on the end of their set plays more than we did. That was the most disappointing bit.”
The early proceedings got off to a fairly even start, Preston having more energy and creativity about them.
However, it was Oldham who had the first real opening of the game after Ross Dalton had denied Devante Jacobs, his parried save fell to Ben Grant but he skied his effort over the bar from six yards.
Minutes later Bradley Roscoe had a similar chance when Luke Pritchard burst into the box on the left and cut back to the PNE captain, but he also lent back on his shot sending it over the target.
After an evenly fought first 20 minutes, the game suddenly burst into life when a pass back to Dalton bobbled and caused the goalkeeper to miss his kick
Thankfully however, Sean Whelan was on hand with a sliding clearance off the line.
And Whelan’s clearance in turn found Adam Joseph Robinson who released Pritchard down the left wing, making his way past several defenders before being stopped in his tracks inside the box.
The home side desperately appealed for a penalty but the referee controversially waved it away.
What was to come was a determined Preston who swiftly gained the ascendancy and immediately made their pressure tell with two quick-fire goals.
Firstly Lunney received the ball inside the box from near the left by-line and smartly bent his effort past the sprawling Joel Coleman to provide Preston a deserved lead.
Almost immediately after Hagon doubled Preston’s lead from a corner with Lunney turning provider.
Hagon made a surging near post run and met Lunney’s whipped cross from the left with a perfect glancing header into the opposite top right corner.
Oldham however weren’t in the mood to go down without a fight, and displayed their sprit with a flurry of chances prior to half-time
Firstly, Jack Tuohy arrived late on a loose ball near the penalty spot, but he also lifted his shot over the crossbar.
Shortly after, Dalton pulled off an athletic save to his right to deny Oldham’s Callum Etches whose header was destined for the top left corner after rising highest from a corner.
Just before the interval, Jordache Walters showed what ability he has, wandering past three defenders down the left by-line before making his way inside the box, but his end product couldn’t pick out a
With the sides having emerged for the second half, Pritchard had a fantastic chance early on after being slipped through into the box on the left side.
He shifted the ball onto his favoured right foot but curled his effort straight at Coleman from 12 yards.
Having missed the chance to grab a three goal margin, Preston hit the self-destruct button as they suffered a catastrophic ten minute spell which saw them concede from three corners.
Firstly, a corner from the right resulted in a goalmouth scramble which eventually fell to Edmundson three yards out, and he duly stabbed the ball home to ignite the Oldham comeback.
Dalton then pulled off a magnificent reaction save from Jacobs’ fierce strike that temporarily halted Oldham’s bombardment.
It wasn’t long however before the Latics had another corner and Edmundson grabbed his second of the game after PNE defenders didn’t match his run, gifting him a clear header which he powerfully bulleted past
Dalton to draw the visitors level.
Confidence in the PNE youngsters was evidently diminished and another lack of concentration cost them when Scullion lost his man towards the back post and converted to make it 2-3.
The Lilywhites had now seen their impressive first half display and 2-0 lead extinguished and were now facing an uphill task to salvage something from the game.
James Boyd collected the ball 25 yards out and lined up a shot, but the midfielder dragged his right-footed effort just wide of the left hand post.
Lee Knight entered the fray for Oldham in what was an eventful end to the game for all the wrong reasons.
Firstly, the young forward wasted the chance to put any doubt of an Oldham win to bed when he managed to miscue a tap-in from four yards with a virtually empty net at his mercy.
Then, within the final five minutes, he picked up two yellow cards putting an end to his short cameo.
His first for intervening with a Preston thrown-in and his second for a late challenge on Robinson.
Preston piled bodies into the box late on, but in truth the damage had been done and they couldn’t create that final opportunity to snatch a draw.
PNE XI: Ross Dalton, Clive Smith, Ellis Hancox, Harry Hagon, Sean Whelan, Bradley Roscoe, Adam Joseph Robinson, Jonathan Lunney, James Boyd, Luke Pritchard, Eddie Dsane
Subs: James Quigley, Ben Roberts, Lamin Jagne, Bradley Wicks, Oliver Crankshaw