FA Youth Cup action returns to Deepdale on Tuesday night as Preston North End U18 host Charlton Athletic U18 in the third round.
The young Lilywhites did not have the chance to play at the home of PNE last term, losing out away at Tottenham Hotspur. But in the previous campaign, North End’s youngsters recorded a best run in the competition for 60 years, reaching the quarter-final with all four of that season’s games also played in PR1.
And although it will be a different crop of scholars taking to the pitch for this contest, Academy manager Nick Harrison says his players can take inspiration from the successes of that campaign.
“It’s going to be a great stage to play on,” he said. “The game is at Deepdale and some clubs don’t do that anymore in the FA Youth Cup, they play on alternative grounds.
“It’s a really exciting game for the players to look forward to, playing in front of their friends and family. It’s certainly a game everyone’s looking forward to.
“Josh Earl’s performances in the FA Youth Cup in that little run a few years ago certainly helped him to progress and sign a professional contract. We’ve seen both last season and this, that’s certainly helped Josh in a big way.
“The players should definitely see that as an opportunity to show everybody at the club, including their family and friends, what they can do.”
The young Lilywhites have restored their good form with two wins from their last three – both coming at home – renewing optimism after a nine-match unbeaten streak was halted in October.
The visiting Addicks – managed by former Soviet Union international, Sergei Baltacha – also arrive off the back of a great run. They have won five of their last six matches, with a 3-0 defeat of Bristol City last time out and FA Youth Cup triumphs over Whitehawk and Southend United also included in that stretch of outings.
However, midfielder Adam O’Reilly says PNE must concentrate on their own qualities ahead of the game and reflecting on personal endeavours, he hopes to use the tournament experience he has gained from representing the Republic of Ireland at youth level to his advantage.
“When I was at the U17 Euros [with Ireland in May of this year], once you’d made that first pass it was all right and everything turns to excitement.
“There are a lot of different players that are scoring for us at the minute – it’s the defenders, midfielders and wingers – there’s a lot of variety so that’s good to have in the team, especially coming into a big game like this and hopefully we can carry that into the game.”
You can read the full pre-match interviews from Nick and Adam in our smaller edition of The One And Only, which will be available for free around the ground before kick-off, also coming complete with player profiles of our first and second year scholars.
Tickets for the game will be available at £4 for adults, £2 for concessions (over 65s and under 18s), and free for both under 11s and season ticket holders of Preston North End and Charlton Athletic.
Season ticket holders of both clubs can gain free entry by collecting a ticket at the turnstiles, on production of a valid 2018/19 season card/ticket.
For those unable to attend, we will have coverage on the club’s social media channels, including text commentary on our Academy Twitter account, @pnefcacademy, with additional reaction to follow overnight on PNE.Com and iFollow PNE.
The game will also be live to watch on iFollow PNE, full details can be found here.