First-year scholar Jerome Jolly was pleased by the youth team’s collective spirit in their 3-1 defeat to Rochdale on Tuesday afternoon.
The young Lilywhites performed well in patches of the game but were caught cold midway through the first-half when the visitors scored twice in four minutes, with Adam O’Reilly’s strike moments before the interval cancelled out by a third Dale effort six minutes from time.
Jolly admitted his disappointment at the result but felt he and his teammates were at a physical disadvantage to their North West Youth Alliance opponents, while also being punished for some lapses of concentration during the contest.
“We lacked some physicality against their players,” the 17-year-old told PNE.com. “We won a few second balls but they had the height advantage over us from set pieces.
“We switched off at the end because we’re 2-1 down and we’re trying to get back into the game. It was end to end and I thought we just switched to let the runner in at the back post to score the third goal. It was a good team effort overall and we fought well towards the end of the game.
“The start of the second-half was a bit scrappy but in the final 25 minutes, we were dominating. We kept getting more bodies forward and they caught us on the counter attack to get the free-kick. The ball goes into the box and they get on it at the back post.
“We fought back from going behind well but lost some concentration at the end to let them in at the back post when we were getting back into the game.
“We had a set piece chance before their third goal and if we put that away, the game maybe ends 2-2 or potentially you push for a winner and it’s 3-2. They didn’t really look like scoring in the second-half until we started to put more bodies forward and obviously the more you go forward and more chances you miss, the more chances they will get at the other end to score.”
Jolly’s game time has been restricted by injury this season, but the versatile midfielder was able to play the full 90 minutes in Tuesday’s game.
He even finished the match as a lone striker, having started on the left-wing, but Jolly is simply hoping for more playing time in the closing weeks of the campaign – no matter what position is asked of him.
“I haven’t played a lot this year, but I thought I had a good performance today. I’ve just come back from an injury, so now it’s a case of getting as many minutes as possible and ending the season well because however you end the season tends to be how you start the new season.
“Sometimes it’s difficult playing as a winger because it’s about knowing when to come inside and when to stay on line; it’s just all about anticipation. I think with the more game time I get, the more I will understand where to position myself on the pitch in key times.
“I got put up front towards the end and I haven’t played there this season, in games or in training. When I got the chance to play up there, I thought I did a decent job and made it tricky for the centre backs.
“That’s not my natural position, but I’ve played in almost every position in my time at this club and I’ve been here since U10s. I’ve played in pretty much every position, so it wasn’t too much of a struggle for me, I know where to be and where to position myself and I think I handled it quite well.”