U18s boss reacts to last night’s painful Youth Cup exit.
Manager Nick Harrison believed his players did themselves justice in front of a Deepdale crowd last night after the Lilywhites were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup on penalties against Luton.
The youngsters didn’t get off to the best of starts falling behind after five minutes through Jack Snelus but after a nervy opening, the Lilywhites’ found their feet and were finally awarded for their efforts when Josh Earl headed home with just a minute of normal time remaining.
Neither side looked like finding a winner in extra-time until Dylan Davidson was bundled to the ground in the penalty area; it was Davidson who took the resulting spot-kick, but his penalty hit the cross bar before sailing over.
Despite his penalty miss in extra-time, Davidson bravely stepped up again in the shoot-out to convert, but it was Luton who progressed after the Hatters scored all five of their penalties.
“It’s a really disappointing way to go out,” said Harrison. “We’re really proud of the boys and how we competed throughout the game, especially in the second half.
“We started very poorly – credit to Luton they came at us and they were certainly on the front foot, but we felt the longer the game went on we moved the ball better, started to find the wide players and put some good balls into the box.
“In the second half we played with a better tempo and got more people forward and we thoroughly deserved to get the goal and we could have won it at the end with the penalty.
On Davidson and finding the courage to step up to take another penalty in the shoot-out, the manager added: “Dylan had that passion from winning the penalty and that adrenalin and maybe that’s what’s made him miss but he certainly showed in the penalty shoot-out that he can take a penalty.
“Dylan had come on as a sub so he had that energy – he’s got great pace and he obviously won the penalty and had the bravery to pick the ball up and take it.
“Unfortunately for him he’s missed, but he is a good penalty taker – he has taken penalties before it was just unfortunate for him that it hit the cross bar.
“We’ve got the Area final on Saturday and we’ve actually got another game on Monday – there will be players that haven’t played tonight that will get their chance so they need to be ready.”
To hear more from Harrison as Preston North End’s FA Youth Cup journey came to a close, head to PNEPlayerHD here.