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Match Report: Burnley 1 PNE U18s 1

22 August 2016

The visitors played well for most of the first half but were caught out when RJ Pingley fired Burnley ahead in the 16th minute, but the Young Lilywhites came out stronger after the break as a superb Mike Howard header deservedly brought PNE level.

PNE saw plenty of the ball in the opening stages but it was Burnley who got the first sight of goal. Pingley received a pass over the Lilywhites’ backline but dragged his shot wide of the far post.

Lewis Fensome then had to be alert to cut out a cross from the left, but Pingley fired Burnley ahead not long after, taking one touch and shooting into the bottom corner to put the hosts 1-0 up.

Callum Roberts caught Pingley’s next effort before Fensome cleared from another cross, but PNE then began to create some opportunities of their own.

Harry Garstang found Josh Earl in space down the left who crossed superbly for Miles Mason, but the striker’s effort was blocked by a Burnley defender. 

Garstang then combined well with Oscar O’Neil to find Melle Meulensteen on the same flank, but his cross was also cut out by the opposition.

Jack Burgoyne then threatened on the right, surging forward superbly before finding Mason who crossed for Dylan Davidson. The Northern Irishman turned well on the edge of the area but fired his powerful effort marginally wide of the top left corner.

Meulensteen came even closer in the 36th minute with another terrific effort from range. His drive was curling towards the top right corner, but the Burnley ‘keeper somehow tipped it onto the crossbar to deny the visitors an equaliser.

Garstang then fired just wide after a corner as PNE went in 1-0 down at the break.

There weren’t many openings in the moments after the break, although Davidson did show a sign of things to come as his dangerous cross towards Mason was cleared on this occasion.

Mike Howard came on to replace Garstang on the hour, and although the latter had been heavily involved in most of PNE’s good play, it proved to be an important change.

Just moments after the change Davidson put in another fantastic cross, as he whipped the ball towards the back post for Howard to equalise with a well-timed header. 

That was the first chance of note in the half, but PNE took the initiative thereafter, with more good play coming down the left. Earl’s cross travelled right across the face of goal and had someone got a touch, the visitors would surely have gone ahead.

The Lilywhites continued to push forwards as Leon Creech replaced Oscar O’Neil with about ten minutes remaining, and the substitute could have scored soon after his introduction.

Creech found space in the area after driving forward from midfield but had his shot blocked inside the area, before he hit another effort just over from a similar position only minutes afterwards.

Earl then came close to winning it as he headed just wide from a corner but the game did end level, as PNE earned a creditable draw and brought Burnley’s winning start to the season to an end.

Preston North End’s U18s manager Nick Harrison was pleased with his side’s improved second half performance in a 1-1 draw away to Burnley on Saturday.
The young Lilywhites went behind after 16 minutes despite a decent first half, but performed even better after the break and got a 63rd minute equaliser thanks to a Mike Howard header. 

On his side’s display after going behind, Nick said: “I thought we started responding in the first half. Our distances over the pitch improved and we started to play on the front foot. We dominated the game as it went on.

“I thought there was almost two periods within the first half. We didn’t start well, we let them have too much of the ball and too much room. The two centre forwards were dictating to us but in the last 15 minutes of the half we dealt with that. 

“We started defending and playing on the front foot, attacked as a team and started to have more possession, and we carried all of that into the second half. We deserved to get the equaliser but we really should have got the second.

“The result is the result, it was 1-1 because we couldn’t get the second but that wasn’t because of a lack of effort and we didn’t give up at 1-0 down. Although we’re disappointed we didn’t get the second we’ve given the players credit for giving it a go until the end.”

Goalscorer Mike Howard came off the bench just three minutes before his goal, and Nick said of the substitute’s impact: “I think that’s why you have substitutes, we challenge them to impact the game as soon as they come on. We tried to change the players around a bit to give the opposition a couple of questions and it paid off, sometimes you don’t get that, but the job of a sub coming on is to make an immediate impact. 

“They might only have ten or 15 minutes to do that but that’s what they’ve got to do and it worked today. We’re more pleased that we dominated the game throughout the second half and in parts of the first half and made it difficult for Burnley.

PNE had failed to score in their previous two league games, and Harrison was happy to see his side find the net in this match: “We needed that goal, but what we needed more was a second. The players dug in to get an equaliser and they kept going and didn’t give up. They wanted to get the second and didn’t sit back, we wanted to attack and got balls into the box. 

“We just need to be more clinical with our finishing and that’s something we perhaps need to continue working on.

Nick also explained that no player is guaranteed their place in the side: “As the game developed we got better and better, we’ve got good players in the group and it’s not about the same players starting every game – that’s not going to be the case. 

“All the players need to push each other in training because we’re more than capable of bringing players in, whether they’re from the U18s or U16s group. We’ve got good players at the club and hopefully that should challenge the older ones to keep the shirt because that’s how they will improve.

“I think it would have been more of a confidence boost if we got the second because we gave the boys the objective to win the game. We didn’t quite achieve that but this will certainly give them the confidence to go into the next game with that belief that they can dominate if they play with the right intensity and on the front foot whilst working together. Hopefully it will give the players that belief going into the next game.”

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