PNE U18s sustained their emphatic run with a 2-1 victory over high-fliers Shrewsbury Town at Victory Park on Saturday morning.
North End burst out the traps and took the lead inside three minutes – a rifled cross from Dylan Davidson directed straight to the head of James Boyd who did well to steer the ball into the right-hand corner.
Five minutes later, North End doubled their advantage – Jonathan Lunney finding the ball at his feet inside the area with time to place a cool finish into the corner to send the hosts 2-0 up inside the first 10 minutes.
In response, George Hassall drove a shot at goal forcing Mathew Hudson to save after Melle Meulensteen’s low effort was beaten away by the Shrews shot stopper, Leon Reece.
Shrewsbury came close through Hassall again only for Hudson to get his body behind it, and the number one somehow kept the scoreline at 2-0 going in at half-time not long after.
With six minutes left of the first-half, Ethan Jones went in behind the North End defence to fire a shot which cannoned off Hudson before hitting the post and out.
Despite Shrewsbury’s comeback in the latter stages of the first 45, it was very much PNE’s half thanks to an electric opening that delighted Harrison.
“The boys set the tempo from the word go, and that showed their intent this afternoon,” said the PNE coach.
“What we asked the boys to do at half-time was to either see the game out, or to score more.
“I thought we could have created a lot more chances and could have scored a lot more goals - Shrewsbury caused us problems but we dealt with most of them well.”
One would think Harrison was alluding to the Shrews goal 12 minutes from time – a whipped in corner saw Callum Grogan and Ryan Sears both denied before Hassall bundled the ball home.
But Shrewsbury’s late efforts to grab an equaliser were in vain as North End held on to defeat a side who’d lost just three times in the league all season prior to this weekend’s encounter.
“It was a challenge,” added the North End boss.
“I thought Shrewsbury caused us a fair few problems, but I thought our general play was good and I think we deserved victory over the course of the game.
“In patches we played well – we’re a bit disappointed we haven’t kept a clean sheet because although they had lots of chances, we dealt with them quite well up until the goal, but we’re really pleased for the boys that we’ve won, and pleased with the performances.”
On beating a side who started the game third in the table, Harrison continued: “If you look at the table, they’re up there, but it doesn’t mean they’re any better.
“I don’t think the table tells the true story at times in terms of the players that everybody’s got, and in terms of individuals because what it’s all about is producing players, not producing teams that win the Youth Alliance League.
“Our aim of course is to do both, but mainly to produce players and if the boys can keep winning, which is a good habit to get into and get close to the top then that’s brilliant but the main thing is about producing players. “
The win comes off the back of another impressive victory against Doncaster in the Youth Alliance Cup last week which sees North End into the last eight of the competition where Carlisle await, and a happy Harrison was pleased that the momentum remained on Saturday.
“I think parts of the performance were good, if not better than last week,” said Harrison. “We’re playing against a different opposition of course and I think if you look at it, overall we were probably better last week.
“Shrewsbury caused us a few more problems, but at the end of the day, I thought overall our performances were very good and we deserved the win.”
PNE XI: Hudson, Crankshaw, Whelan, Jagne, B Roberts, A Joseph Robinson, Davidson, Meulensteen, Barry, Boyd,
PNE Subs: Earl, C Roberts, Burgoyne, Howard, Fensome