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Match Reports

Port Vale U18 2 PNE U18 4

25 March 2018

Match Reports

Port Vale U18 2 PNE U18 4

25 March 2018

The youth team put in a fantastic away performance to beat Port Vale 4-2 on Saturday.

Ethan Walker and Lewis Simmons scored inside ten minutes to put the Lilywhites ahead before James Steele pulled one back midway through the first-half.

Second-half substitute Louis Potts then netted a brace before Harry Benns scored a stoppage-time consolation for the hosts.

North End’s dominance was evident from the first whistle, the visitors needing just four minutes to break the deadlock.

Captain Lewis Fensome played a testing diagonal to the left side of the box and following a scramble, Josh Pollard nudged it back for Walker to curl a brilliant finish into the far right corner.

The same duo helped to set up PNE’s second after eight minutes. Fensome’s low cross from the right flashed across goal out to Walker on the left, who cut back onto his right foot and crossed for Simmons to nod home in the centre.

Myles Mason could have made it three in the next attack when he beat goalkeeper Mawgan Blight, who had rushed off his line, to the ball around 40 yards from goal, but delayed his shot for too long and the chance was gone.

Simmons nearly had a second when he won back possession in Vale’s own box but blazed his shot just over the right-hand post.

In the 22nd minute, the hosts struck against the run of play. Matthew Ward sent in an inviting delivery from the right and Steele, Vale’s captain, got a touch to divert it past ‘keeper Callum Lenton.

Fensome very nearly cancelled that out almost immediately when he made a surging late run into the box to meet Walker’s left-wing cross, but his header crashed against the left-hand post.

Tyrhys Dolan and Pollard both sent efforts from outside the box over the bar before Simmons cleared superbly ahead of Lucas Green-Birch in first-half stoppage-time to preserve North End’s lead at the break.

There was a noticeable improvement from the home side after the interval, with Lenton forced into early action when he gathered a through ball in the box aimed for an in-space Kyle Johnson.

But the visitors were left generally untroubled in terms of conceding chances, youth team debutant Joe Nolan placing a shot from the edge of the box just over within ten minutes of the restart.

On the hour, Walker shot into Blight’s grasp at a tight angle from Simmons’ delivery.

Walker turned provider moments later with a beautiful flick into Dolan’s path on the edge of the box, who saw his low curling effort parried towards Kamol Campbell, whose low cross was just ahead of Potts.

The Lilywhites got a deserved third in the 75th minute – albeit thanks to some good fortune.

Potts held it up well down the right flank as he looked to hang a cross up to the back post from the byline, but his delivery instead floated into the top left corner.

There was no doubt about the striker’s intentions in the 84th minute as he made it 1-4. Pollard played a fine through ball into the box from deep to find Potts, who only needed one touch to slide the ball under Blight with the outside of his right foot.

Lenton was forced into a rare stop as he held Steele’s long-range strike but there was still time for the hosts to net again.

In the first minute of added time, Benns took down a corner and half volleyed in at the near post, that the final meaningful act of a fine morning’s work for the Lilywhites.

Following a quick start, youth team manager Nick Harrison praised his players for maintaining their performance level throughout the game.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the performance on and off the ball,” he told “We’ve had these kinds of performances throughout the season but haven’t always put the ball in the back of the net. We got a little bit of luck in front of goal today but we were clinical as well.

“We got the early 2-0 lead, which was a great start, and I thought we went on from there in a positive way. We passed the ball well, the movement was very good and we created a number of chances. We could have gone in at half-time with three or four goals rather than two as well.

“The quality of the ball into the box was better today and more importantly the finish. We created a number of chances we could have scored from as well, so we will keep working on all parts of the game, whether it’s putting balls in the box from out wide or attacking centrally.

“We had a young team so players are going to switch off at times which they did, certainly for the first goal. But I thought how we played for 98 per cent of the game was fantastic and we’re really pleased with the players.”

Harrison was also pleased to hand opportunities to some younger players, as Joe Nolan, Lincoln McFayden, Lewis Earl and Joe Rodwell-Grant all made their youth team debuts.

“We don’t want to single anybody out because everyone contributed to the game and it was good that we got all the substitutes on.

“We are confident that our players are good enough and we will give them that opportunity to make that step up. If they take that, they can be successful.

“We asked in the changing rooms before the game that the younger lads go out and enjoy the game and show some enthusiasm and for the older boys to help them.

“Each and every player played their part today in a good performance and really good result.”

PNE line-up: Lenton; Fensome (McFayden, 69), Ngongo, Day, Campbell; Nolan, Pollard; Simmons (Earl, 81), Dolan, Walker (Rodwell-Grant, 81); Mason (Potts, 62). Subs not used: Cottam.

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