North End's Academy recovered from the loss of their goalkeeper to grind out a 1-0 win at Port Vale thanks to Eddie Dsane's last minute penalty.
Vale were playing their third home game in eight days and were looking to avenge an early season 3-0 defeat against the Lilywhites at Victory Park. However, the hosts were unable to exert any early pressure and the only early action saw Ferrie collecting a free kick and Luke Pritchard glancing a header just wide of the upright.
It was only in the 18th minute that saw Vale's first effort witha shot by Steele being charged down by Bradley Roscoe. Lewis was then forced off with an acnkle injury to be replaced by Ede.
With almost 30 minutes on the clock, Steele put Haughton in on goal with a shooting chance that saw his effort diverted for a corner at the near post.
Soon after, Adam Boyd saw his shot tipped over the bar by Ferrie and then a cross from the left from Pritchard sped all the way through the six yard box without anyone getting a touch.
Vale responded with Haughton shooting over the bar and in added time at the end of the first half, a dangerous cross by the Vale saw Harry Hagon head against his own cross bar and substitute Ede was just unable to take advantage of the loose ball.
Despite Nick Harrison and Andy Fensome making changes, the home side had more of the play in the second period. Steele was brought down to see Hagon yellow carded on the hour mark and Kapend had a good opportunity, but placed the ball just over the bar.
Vale had an escape following a free kick as Ferrie was unable to claim Pritchard’s cross. The ball bounced around the area with no one getting any substantial connect before Ferrie got his hands on it at the third attempt.
The game became more interesting in the 67th minute as Turner chased a ball over the top, only to be felled by the onrushing Ross Dalton outside the penalty area; this resulted in a red card for the young stopper and he left the field.
The Lilywhites did not have a substitute keeper on the bench, with Matt Hudson currently sidelined with a knee injury, so Hagon took the gloves – the rangy centre half taking a position between the sticks.
The resulting Vale free kick was hit over the bar by Bergin, but soon after Reeves was felled just outside the box with Adam Robinson this time seeing yellow for PNE. From the resulting free kick Haughton saw his shot charged down and from the rebound Bergin shot wide.
Reeves then became the first Vale player to see a card as he was booked for challenge in on Roscoe.
The home attack never really managed to threaten the Preston goal or exert pressure on the stand-in custodian and as the game approached the 90 minute mark they were made to pay for it.
Eddie Dsane broke forward into the box at pace and was brought down by Ferrie, also shown a red card.
Kapend was taken off to allow Pickering to come on to face the spot-kick, but he was unable to stop the well taken effort from Dsane, who had dusted himself down before dispatching past the replacement stopper.
Academy boss Nick Harrison spoke after his side’s latest victory and showed his delight at his side’s resilience and character after the ten men picked up a hard-earned point at Port Vale.
Harrison admitted he and his staff had asked the team to show their character after throwing away a 2-0 lead against Carlisle United the previous Saturday.
“The performance was exactly what we challenged the players with,” said Harrison. “We were disappointed to lose the game against Carlisle; especially after being so convincing in the first half, but that’s what youth football is all about.
“The players certainly proved to us that they can be mentally strong by winning the next game and putting in a good performance.
The young Lilywhites’ clean sheet was made even the more impressive after Dalton’s red card and Nick said that the collective work-rate warranted the win, whilst admitting the players made their own decision on the goalkeeping change.
“The players showed great mental strength to galvanise together after losing the keeper. We had to put an outfield player in [Harry Hagon] and play with ten men for the last 20 minutes and they did very well.
“We were pleased with the clean sheet and we would have settled for 0-0 when Ross got sent off, but they showed great courage to go forward, attack and get the goal they probably deserved in the end.
“We let the players decide who would go into the goal. It is something we have spoken about with the players before, but in those situations the players have to have faith in the person going in and they chose Harry.
“We have seen Harry a few times in training and I wouldn’t say he is a convincing goalkeeper, but when he was called upon he was brilliant and the players worked hard in front of him to stop Port Vale getting shots on target and we were delighted with their courage to get the goal.
“We had asked the players whether they could concentrate for the full 90 minutes – after what had happened the previous Saturday – which has had a question mark over it a couple of times this season, but they showed that they are more than capable of doing it and they deserved the goal, however it came.”
PNE line-up: Dalton, Smith, Whelan, A Jo Robinson, Roscoe (c), Hagon, Pritchard, Wicks (A Ja Robinson, 55), Dsane, Boyd, Jagne (Lunney, 55). Subs not used: Roberts, Hancox, Crankshaw.
Report by Lindon Roberts