Youth team goalkeeper James Cottam credited his teammates on all areas of the pitch as they helped to secure a clean sheet in the 2-0 success at Rotherham United in the Youth Alliance Cup.
Charlie Lyons and Jack Baxter scored the early second-half goals to put Nick Harrison’s side into the northern semi-finals of the competition.
The first-year scholar was delighted to complete the shutout but said North End’s outfield players were equally deserving of praise for keeping the Millers at bay.
“I think it’s one of the first clean sheets I’ve had this season,” the 17-year-old told PNE.com. “It’s not just down to me, it’s obviously down to the whole team pressing from the front, through midfield and down to the back four as well.
“The back four were really good and the midfield as well. The defending starts from the front with the pressing but the back four were really important for us today. Making saves is what I’m there to do, I don’t think I was tested too much today but when I was, I just stood tall.
“The manager was very intent on keeping a clean sheet in the game from what he said to us before kick-off, so I think we were all very focused on doing that. We were all very happy to keep the clean sheet, that was the main point today because we knew we would score goals at the other end.
“We were buzzing to get the clean sheet, I think we deserved it as well because we defended well, and I think it was a good game overall for us.”
Cottam felt Rotherham provided a great contest and was delighted for the team to overcome their challenge to progress to the last four of the northern side of the tournament and remain in contention in multiple competitions.
The young shot stopper says the team are now looking forward to that semi-final tie and will be unfazed by whoever their opponent is and whether it’s home or away, with the young Lilywhites now having made round trips of over 150 miles in all three of their away games in the competition.
“They were a good physical side and I thought it was an even game. I think the first goal changed it and we scored two goals in quick succession, so I thought the win was deserved and obviously a great result, but it was an even game.
“It was a fast start, they started well. But I think we grew into the game well and I thought we deserved to get the first goal and go ahead. They didn’t cause us too many real worries or problems, it was mainly a few crosses into the box which we dealt with well.
“After being knocked out of the FA Youth Cup, we want to get silverware this season and we want to push on in the league as well. We’re looking forward to the semi-final match now.
“Getting up early for these games allows us that time to focus on the coach down and just try to be as professional as possible. We’re looking forward to whoever we get in the next round and we would feel confident of beating them.
“We’re fine away from home, I don’t think there’s any problem us playing away and we would be fine with another away draw.”