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Youth Team

Rochdale U18 1 PNE U18 2

17 July 2017

Preston North End U18s continued their 100 per cent start to pre-season with a 2-1 win against Rochdale.

After a goalless first half, Rochdale took the lead just after the hour and held on to their advantage until the latter stages of the contest.

However, strikes from substitutes Hafizul Rahman and Jack Baxter inside the final ten minutes completed an impressive turnaround for North End, ensuring their third pre-season win following a 1-0 triumph over Morecambe and 4-0 defeat of Grimsby Town in the previous week.

The Lilywhites started the better, as Alex Wood showed great trickery on the right flank, but saw his shot diverted away by a deflection.

Fabio Tavares hooked a looping volley just over for Rochdale before Mike Howard won it back deep on the left flank for PNE, but shot straight at the goalkeeper.

The visitors had enjoyed a decent amount of possession in the opening moments before Dale began to see more of the ball.

Louis White forced James Cottam to save well from his free-kick, before both he and Neil Kuemo fired marginally wide of the right post in quick succession midway through the half.

Tavares’ extravagant overhead kick edged just over and with half-time looming, Cottam saw a Kuemo shot trickle well wide but saved another from Nathaniel Appiah at a tight angle.

Cottam had enjoyed a fine 45 minutes, but was replaced at the break by Callum Lenton while Oscar O’Neil came on for Joshua Pollard.

It was a much quieter start to the second period until Dale went on ahead 63 minutes. Joe Renner powerfully headed towards goal from Elliott Murray's corner and although Lenton did well to get a hand on it, the effort was too strong to keep out.

Baxter had replaced an injured Kian Smart just five minutes before the opening goal and North End made a further five changes on 70 minutes in an intense finish to the game.

And when the next clear chance came on 81 minutes, PNE took full advantage.

Darren Brannigan had seen his solo effort disallowed for offside just seconds before Rahman, another of those late reinforcements, capitalised on a goalkeeping error and slotted into the bottom corner from just inside the area.

That goal truly brought the game to life as Wood curled a free-kick just over the bar only two minutes later.

Shortly after at the other end, Lewis Fensome’s heroics prevented Dale from retaking the lead after Musambya Kisimba had regained possession inside PNE's box and shot towards goal, only for the skipper to clear off the line.

Murray then curled a free-kick just wide but it was PNE who grabbed the late winner.

The visitors had attacked well down the left side through Brannigan and Rahman when a loose ball fell to Baxter, who applied the perfect finish from just outside the box, rifling low into the far right corner in the first minute of added time.

There was still time for a late scare deep into stoppage time as Kuemo squared to Murray, but Lenton made an excellent reaction save to turn his effort behind.

That proved enough for the victory, continuing the impressive start to pre-season and boding well for the upcoming campaign.

PNE line-up: Cottam (Lenton, 46), Simmons, Stead (Fensome, 70), Ngongo (Lyons), Campbell (Armer, 70), Smart (Baxter, 58), Garstang (O’Reilly, 70), Pollard (O’Neil, 46), Wood, Mason (Brannigan, 70), Howard (Rahman, 70).

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