Youth team forward Darren Brannigan was delighted to score a hattrick in a superb 6-1 away win against Lincoln City.
The 17-year-old set the young Lilywhites on their way for victory by scoring the team’s first three goals, the triumph sending North End to the top of their Youth Alliance Cup group and into the northern quarter-finals of the tournament.
After his first effort put PNE into a 1-0 half-time lead, the forward finding the net as an Adam O’Reilly shot deflected in off him, Brannigan said that gave him a confidence boost and felt his second strike, which came just two minutes after the break, came at an important time.
“I’m not sure if I can even class the first one as a goal, but the second and third were good goals and helped us to get the win today,” the first-year scholar told PNE.com. “It was a big confidence boost to get that first goal and that gave me the determination to go and score more.
“The second goal was important because they were applying pressure on us and we needed a goal at that time to make us more comfortable, and that goal helped us to relax.
“They [Lincoln] made a good start to the second-half and had a few chances quite quickly, but as soon as we got the goal, we just took control of the game. It took the pressure off the defenders at the back and gave us confidence going forwards to go and score more goals.
“The goals kept coming after that, we were confident going forwards and were clinical in front of goal. The opposition dropped their heads a bit and we took advantage of that.”
Brannigan was pleased to see the team respond after conceding a late equaliser to Fleetwood in their last match, which ended in a 3-3 draw, and with this the last game before a two-week break over Christmas, he hopes the result can give the team confidence upon their return.
“We needed to step forward after that Fleetwood game, which we should have won, but we were feeling confident coming into this game.
“From the last two games, we’ve lost one and drawn the other, so now we can go into the Christmas break feeling confident with this win. We’ve just got to keep going, keep working hard and improving in training and hopefully we can take that into the matches and win the games.
“Hopefully this can help me get into the starting team more but I’ve got to keep training hard and working hard as a player to improve as well.
“All the players are happy, it was a good win and we can go into the Christmas feeling happy, and hopefully we can go again after the break and get another win.”