PNE’s Academy ended a three game winless run away from home on Saturday as they defeated Burnley in impressive fashion.
North End started the game well and might have gone ahead after just six minutes when Sean Whelan delivered a menacing cross from the left towards Dylan Davidson, whose header was directed straight at the Burnley goalkeeper.
Ellis Hancox headed marginally wide before the home side tested North End ‘keeper Callum Roberts for the first time after 20 minutes. Hancox blocked Burnley forward Tommy Boyd’s close range effort before the rebound forced the PNE keeper to make a great save from a shot heading into the top left corner.
North End were restricted to a couple of long range efforts from Davidson in the remainder of the half, but looked comfortable in defence until just before the break. Burnley attacked down the left wing in the 45th minute, quickly moving the ball into the area towards Dwight McNeil, who saw his close range effort well saved by Roberts, before the rebound was put agonisingly wide.
PNE started well after the break, as Lamin Jagne’s drive from distance and Ben Roberts’ glancing header went narrowly wide within moments of the restart.
A dangerous looking run from Lunney followed and North End again went close in the 58th minute when Dylan Davidson turned well, but shot into the side netting.
PNE were rewarded for their second half dominance in the 61st minute, as Lunney and Meulensteen combined well on the right wing, with the latter putting the ball on a plate for Boyd to side foot in from the centre of the area.
The away side had another chance just minutes later as Lunney’s low shot was collected by the Burnley ‘keeper after being fed by Boyd from the left.
Burnley showed some signs of growing into the contest though, and after Jagne was replaced by Adam Joseph Robinson in the 67th minute, the home side hit the post after racing through into the left side of the area, before the rebound was fizzed narrowly over from outside the area.
PNE recovered to continue in the vain they started the second half and benefitted from extra space on the counter, as Lunney, Meulensteen and Boyd were all denied before the visitor’s scored again.
Meulensteen ventured into the area in the 86th minute and was awarded a penalty after being brought down by a Burnley defender. Lunney converted emphatically into the right corner of the goal, making the result safe for the visitors.
Akwasi Kwateng saw his volley saved from the edge of the area and Burnley’s Miles Fenton hit a shot narrowly over shortly after, but the game was not complete until the final minute. Boyd raced onto Kwateng’s knockdown, before controlling and firing beyond the ‘keeper from just inside the area into the bottom right corner.
That completed a superb second half performance from the Lilywhites, and manager Nick Harrison was equally delighted with his players’ display: “We’re delighted with the result because firstly we won the game with three goals, but it was just as important we kept a clean sheet. What we felt was just as good though, and what’s important for us as a youth team, is the performance – especially in the second half.
“We felt we started the game well and we had a number of chances we probably should’ve taken, and when we didn’t it sort of let them get back into the game and then they had a couple of chances as well.
“But what we felt was the difference in the second half was we worked just a little bit harder out of possession to make it more difficult for Burnley. That enabled us to counter attack and we took our chances well in the second half.
“I thought the team defended and attacked well, the defensive side is not just about the back four. It’s about the whole team from the strikers through to the midfield to the back four, so I was very pleased with us defensively and I thought we attacked well as a team, too.
“I think they [the players] have all performed well, I think we had a bit of a game plan and we changed the formation of the team a bit to a diamond, so there’s a couple of players who made their first or second starts in the team who applied themselves right tactically which is what it’s about – in and out of possession. We passed it well when we had the ball but worked hard when we didn’t, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Photo credit: Charlotte Bolton