Goalkeeper Callum Roberts was the hero as the young Lilywhites produced a shock to knock out Everton’s Academy in the FA Youth Cup fourth round at Deepdale.
The North End U18s came into the tie having already dispatched Category Two Academy Sheffield United in the third round, but knew it would be a test against Kevin Sheedy’s Premier League outfit.
However, the first half saw the home side as the dominant force in the game; Alex Wood’s curling left foot effort just before the half hour mark the first clear cut opening for either side – Morgan Feeney getting his head in the way of the ball to divert the curling effort behind for a corner.
Toffees skipper Jack Kiersey and Kian Smart both tired their luck from range, but the first period’s best chance came right on the stroke of half-time when captain Melle Meulensteen’s free kick on the left reached Cameron Day on the penalty spot. The centre half headed downwards past goalkeeper Ben Pierce, but it came off the inside of the right hand post and was hacked clear by the visitors.
If PNE had held the upper hand in the opening 45 minutes, the young Blues were in the ascendency in the latter, No.10 Fraser Hornby twice went close with headers from Liam Morris crosses into the box, the second glanced just wide of the right hand post with just four minutes left of normal time.
The 30 minutes of extra-time produced a goalmouth scramble at both ends, North End substitute Harry Garstang seeing an effort smothered away in the six yard box and up the other end Alex Wood cleared off the line from Hornby’s header after Kiersey’s corner, but the stalemate was destined for penalties.
It was 4-4 after the first five; Michael Howard, Meulensteen, Joshua Earl and Oscar O’Neil converting for the Lilywhites; Kiersey, Hornby, Beni Baningime and Liam Morris for the Evertonians.
Into sudden death and Callum Roberts drilled down the middle to put PNE back ahead, only for Alex Denny to level. Tom Stead’s effort was then saved by Pierce low to his left, but Roberts kept North End in it with a superb diving save to his left to keep out Ryan Harrington’s effort.
Jack Burgoyne and Feeney exchanged cool finishes before Garstang put PNE 7-6 up with the best penalty of the night, firing with power and precision into the top left corner from 12 yards and Roberts completed the job, with a save this time to his right to deny Blues substitute Michael Collins and put the U18s into the fifth round for the second year in succession.
PNE line-up: Roberts, Creech, Campbell, Smart (Garstang, 73), Day (Stead, 79), Burgoyne, Wood, O'Neil, Davidson (Howard, 116), Meulensteen (c), Earl. Subs not used: Cottam, Mason.
Everton line-up: Pierce, Morris, Harrington, Denny, Lees, Feeney, Bramall (Collins, 105), Kiersey (c), Lavery (Baningime, 35), Hornby, Moore (Mampala, 99). Subs not used: Hilton, Scully.
Referee: Mr R Wootton