U18s coach Nick Harrison updates pnefc.com on pre-season preparations ahead of the new season.
The North End youngsters came from behind twice before turning on the gas in the final stages of the game, scoring three goals in the last 10 minutes without reply to secure the win.
And Harrison, who’ll begin his third full season in charge of the youth side when the new campaign kicks off in August credited the players after what’s been a long and tiring week.
“We wasn’t as rusty as I expected,” conceded Harrison to the Club website after the game.
“We’ve just come back off a trip to Wales for a four day fitness trip. We’ve had them up mountains, with lots of runs, walks and mountain bike journeys.
“It’s been a good team building session, and it’s worked for them. We got back late on Friday night and we’ve asked the boys to play and we’ve been really pleased with how they’ve applied themselves in terms of fitness wise but the football’s been really good as well.
“That was the first pre-season game today which is something we always pencil in straight after the trip to Wales. It’s been a long week so it’s great to be able to finish off with a game of football which is what they’re here to do, to be footballers.
“We played some good stuff - there was some mistakes with positioning and taking one too many touches which is understandable and that’s something we’ll look at watching the video and learn from it, but overall we’re really pleased with the game and pleased with how we finished bearing in mind we’ve been away for four days. Our fitness was very good which for this stage of the season is what it’s all about.”
Unlike previous years, the new batch of U18s go into the season representing a Championship club, and Harrison believes it’s important to use that status to their advantage.
He continued: “Our standards never drop but what it means is that our boys have got to be Championship players now and not League One players which is brilliant and is a massive positive.
“We think we’ve got players that are good enough for that, not straightaway but two or three seasons away, we’ve got good enough boys in the group to do that, but time will tell.
“The lads have to push themselves harder to be a high standard player and to be able to play in the first-team in the Championship and hopefully in the Premier League in the season’s to come.
“The first years that have come in have settled in really well. As everyone knows they all live in houses together. We’ve got a good group in terms of character which is important and the football should speak for itself. We’ve got a good first year group and a good second year group so it should be a good team going into the season.”