First-year scholar Lewis Simmons was delighted to score on his return to the starting eleven in the youth team’s impressive 4-2 win over Port Vale.
The 17-year-old contributed to a quick start to the game by scoring the Lilywhites’ second goal – his first for the youth team – after just eight minutes, Ethan Walker having opened the scoring moments before.
Walker provided the cross for Simmons to score as the versatile defender discussed the thought process behind his accurate header.
“I’m obviously buzzing and it feels really good to get back into the starting eleven and score a goal,” Simmons told PNE.com.
“It was a great ball into the box from Ethan Walker for the goal and I just thought I was more determined than their centre-back to go and win the ball, which I did, and luckily, I directed it into the back of the net.
“I knew I needed to get in front of my man, that’s the only thing I thought about and getting good contact on the ball to direct it goalwards and thankfully it found the back of the net which was good.
“I had another chance to score when I won it off high off their left-back and I probably should have hit it across their ‘keeper, but unluckily it went just over the bar, which was a bit unfortunate.
“We’ve had some poor results recently obviously with the Carlisle defeat last week. We’ve built from that and the boys were class today, we worked hard, kept possession really well and we took our chances, which we’ve failed to do in previous weeks.”
Having mostly featured as a right-back for the youth team season, Simmons excelled in a role which saw him play further forward down the flank against Port Vale.
The youngster explained that it’s a position he feels comfortable playing in, but that he’s happy to play in whichever position manager Nick Harrison asks of him.
“I’ve played there [right-wing] before for the U17s and when I was coming through the academy when I was younger.
“It’s more of an advanced role, you have to get up and down to help your right-back, help your strikers and give an out ball for the midfielders, too. It’s nothing new for me, it’s a position that I’ve always played in since I was young.
“My preferred position is right-back; I like a tackle and getting into the thick of it. You have to adapt to wherever the coach puts you. Being on the right is just about getting the ball into the box and I was able to do that a few times today which is good for me.
“We’ve got some younger lads coming up, including myself as a first-year. It’s all about stepping up and obviously being the more senior players in the squad and helping the younger ones with the U16s and U15s who are coming up into the youth team.”