Oscar O’Neil hailed the youth team’s battling qualities during their 2-1 win against Accrington Stanley in the Lancashire FA Youth Cup quarter-final.
The young Lilywhites were in control for much of the contest having scored twice early in the first-half, but came under more pressure late on after the visitors pulled one back just after the hour.
However, O’Neil stressed the importance of securing the win in a cup game and felt he and his teammates coped well with Accrington’s efforts to grab an equaliser towards the end of the contest.
“I think the way that they played in the second-half was to come out and really try to win the game because obviously it’s a cup game and that made it harder for us,” the 17-year-old told PNE.com.
“The game changed and there were more long balls with more importance on winning the second balls and that was a bit more uncomfortable for us, but we dealt with it.
“We’ve scored a lot of goals in recent games and our main problem has been keeping clean sheets. We’ve only conceded one today but we go out aiming not to concede, so we will build on that.
“But all credit to the defence and everyone who played today because when it got tough, we managed to stick it out. Everyone did their jobs for us to win the game.”
The midfielder also said it was important for the players to remain confident in their own abilities when coming under pressure, with the high levels of self-belief perhaps coming from four consecutive victories as well as two triumphs over Accrington already this term.
“The key is just to remain confident and trust your ability on the ball. No matter how the game is being played or how much they’re pressing, you have to trust the players around and yourself to play out.
“The fact that we have beat them twice this season made us really want to go and win again, dominate the game and win by a lot of goals, but they changed their shape which made it harder for us, especially in the second-half when they changed again.
“We aim for both [the result and performance] but at the end of the day, if the result comes off in a game like that where it’s a cup quarter-final and we’re all playing for a semi-final place, then I think we’re just pleased to get the win.
“Wins are what matter the most at the end of the day and if you’re winning games then everyone’s happy.”