Academy boss Nick Harrison was left to rue missed opportunities as North End U18s succumbed to a 2-0 defeat away to Bury yesterday afternoon.
The shakers doubled their advantage just after the hour mark after an excellent strike from Jake Durham flew into the net leaving Preston with a mountain to climb for the remainder of the game.
“I thought it was a really good game for the neutral and I thought both teams had a really good go,” said Harrison on his assessment on Saturday morning.
"I can’t question our work-rate – the summary of it is they’ve taken their chances and we haven’t.
“I think we’ve created a dozen or so good chances, but we’ve just not had that bit of luck, or that killing instinct to put that ball into the back of the net.”
The closest North End came to coming back into the game in the first-half came from Melle Meulensteen whose shot on the half-volley whistled past the post.
But a fair reflection of Preston’s morning came in the second 45 when Jonathan Lunney, with the goal at his mercy missed just before the home side made it 2-0, and Harrison reckoned it might have been a different story had that chance been converted.
He added: “We maybe need a bit of luck, but you make your own luck in this game.
“When we’ve got a chance, we have to hit the target and that was the story to our game today.
“We had some good chances, and I’d be disappointed if we weren’t creating chances and if I was questioning our overall play, but like I say I thought it was very good.
“We switched the ball and moved it well –we got some good balls into the box, but you’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net and that’s what we didn’t do.”
North End made two changes to the side that drew against Accrington last weekend with Ellis Hancox and Callum Tait coming out of the side for Clive Smith and Adam Joseph Robinson.
It meant that both neither Hancox, nor Jack Burgoyne - North End’s usual centre back pairing took part, with Akwasi Kwateng and Sean Whelan playing in unfamiliar territory at the heart of the defence, yet Harrison refused to let that be an excuse for PNE’s loss at Bury’s training ground in Carrington this weekend.
“We’ve conceded an early goal and maybe that might have been because of the changes, but that shouldn’t be an excuse” declared the North End gaffer.
“It’s not like the players who have come into the team haven’t competed at this level - their number nine caused us problems all game.
“I think it’s a case of us switching off and not dealing with a header and not dealing with a challenge, which is why we found ourselves 1-0 down after five minutes.
“Decent performances don’t win you games, but in terms of U18s football, we’re looking for good performances and for players to develop.
“As a team and individuals though they need to win games, because it gives you more confidence and you develop better.
“But like I say, if you put the ball in the back of the net with our chances, the game is completely different, but it was a good game from both teams, and both had a go. - the difference being they took their chances and we didn’t.”
The North End have the chance to put it right with two games in one week with a break from league action.
First, the U18s welcome Wigan to Victory Park in the LFA Youth Cup before travelling to the North-East to take on Hartlepool in Round Two of the Youth Alliance Cup.
PNE Starting Xi - Hudson, Smith, Whelan, Boyd, Kwateng, Earl, Meulensteen, Lunney, Barry, A James Robinson, A Joseph Robinson
PNE Subs - Jagne, Roberts, Crankshaw, Tait, Creech