Jacob Holland-Wilkinson’s second brace in as many games was not enough for the youth team as they finished on the wrong side of a seven-goal thriller with a 4-3 defeat to Rochdale on Tuesday afternoon.
The young Lilywhites equalised on three occasions, first through Lewis Leigh and then twice more thanks to Holland-Wilkinson, but could not find a fourth after Dale’s 65th-minute proved the winner at Bower Fold, home of Stalybridge Celtic.
There were just two changes to the side that had come from behind to beat Oldham Athletic three days previously as Noah Mawene and Josh Seary made way for Mikey O’Neil and Vaughn Green in the starting line-up.
The action-packed theme of the contest was evident from the off, as the home side went ahead three minutes in through Louie Chorlton, but within two minutes, the visitors were level.
North End brought the ball forward quickly down the right-hand side, and when a cross was cleared to Leigh on the edge of the area, he shifted the ball out of his feet quickly and saw his left-footed strike arrow into the bottom corner with the help of a slight deflection.
Less than ten minutes later, Dale drew back in front through Peter Thomas.
But with ten minutes until half-time, the Lilywhites pulled level once again. Ben Dooley’s pressing won the ball back in a dangerous area and his quick pass to Holland-Wilkinson found him with time and space, as the forward lashed into the top right corner to equalise.
Penalties at both ends saw two more goals exchanged, with Joe Wright stepping up successfully within five minutes of the half-time restart, while Holland-Wilkinson converted from 12 yards ten minutes later.
But a crucial seventh goal of the game six minutes later fell the hosts’ way as Peter Thomas’ second of the game proved to be the match winner.
There will be an immediate opportunity for the young Lilywhites to get one over their Greater Manchester counterparts when they welcome Rochdale back to Preston with a 10.30am kick-off at Springfields this Saturday.
PNE U18 line-up: Lombard; Nicholson, Nevin (Mfuni, 88), Blanchard, Coulton; Huddart, Leigh; Green, Dooley, O’Neil (Bennett, 62); Holland-Wilkinson.
Subs not used: Duggan, Horan, Goldsmith.