Preston North End U19s were beaten 5-3 in an eight-goal thriller at Springfields as they kicked off the 2021/22 season against Salford City.
The visitors opened the scoring in the first half when Otavan Peoro found himself through on goal to slot the ball past Oliver Lombard.
North End started the second half on the front foot but out of nothing Salford doubled their lead through a Marcus Dackers header from a corner.
Just two minutes later the goals started flying in. First Jacob Slater pulled one back for North End to bring them back in to it, but shortly after Salford restored their two-goal cushion, when both the striker and defender forced the ball into the goal.
Ben Finley added a fourth for the Ammies, before Slater got his second of the game to give PNE a glimmer of hope.
The visitors secured their win in added time with a fifth but before the referee could blow his whistle for full-time, PNE captain Jacob Holland-Wilkinson got in on the act with his effort taking a deflection to take it past the keeper.
The opening stages were extremely well contested both teams were looking to attack at every opportunity but neither team could get a strong foothold on the game.
It was the visitors with the first real opportunity, a devastating break down the right lead by Finn Bartram resulted in what looked like it would be a tap in for Dackers but he just couldn’t get the ball out of his feet.
Salford again went close on two occasions. Great defending from Joe Blanchard denied Peoro from close range and from the resulting corner a goalmouth scramble occurred, and the ball cannoned off the crossbar before it was cleared to safety.
The hosts then had the best chance of the game thus far as Holland-Wilkinson found his way in on goal but attempted a first time effort which trickled wide.
It was the visitors who took the lead on the half hour mark though, a defence splitting ball saw Peoro through on goal and he was able to slot it past Lombard into the bottom right-hand corner.
The last chance of the half fell the way of North End. A cross came in from the right-hand side and found Holland-Wilkinson unmarked at the back post but his header from just a few yards out went over the bar.
The Lilywhites started the better of the two teams after half-time, Holland-Wilkinson found the ball at his feet in the box, but he couldn’t get it out of his feet before the keeper managed to claim.
The Ammies did manage to double their lead though after North End dominated the early proceedings of the half. A well taken corner from Alfie Henderson found the lively Dackers who rose highest in the box and headed it in the right-hand corner.
North End replied almost instantly through great work from Josh Seary to get down the right-hand side before his cross found Slater at the back post to tap home.
Before the home side could gain some momentum Salford restored their two-goal cushion, the ball was fizzed into the box and turned into the net by both the North End defender and Salford striker as they both lunged for it.
Salford made their first change 72 minutes in with goalscorer Peoro making way for Lucas Berry.
Wilson added a fourth for the visitors, before North End went on to take their first change of the game with Kian Taylor making way for Kian Best.
Slater gave North End the hope of a lifeline as he fired home his second of the match after good work from Holland-Wilkinson to set him up.
More changes for both sides followed, firstly for the visitors with Marcus Dackers replaced by Stephen Padrao, while Josh Seary went down under a strong challenge and made way for Daniel Mahaffy.
The visitors sealed the win with a fifth goal late on before Holland-Wilkinson got on the score sheet to finish the scoring thanks to a deflection wrong footing the Salford 'keeper.
Speaking to PNE.Com after the game, Academy manager Nick Harrison was left disappointed by the result but felt there were positives to take from the opening game of the campaign.
“We’re really disappointed with the result, conceding five goals. In terms of the positives, we scored three goals, I thought we created a number of chances with some really good play and really if you’re scoring three goals you would expect to win the game.
“We conceded five goals and at this level you’re going to lose the game so yeah really disappointed in terms of the goals we conceded but really pleased with the chances we created on the goals that we scored.”
Josh Seary was a real bright spot down the right-hand side for North End but limped off towards the end of a hard challenge Harrison is hoping its nothing serious.
“Josh took a little knock at the end, we’ll assess it on Monday hopefully its nothing serious and it’s just a knock on the ankle.”
PNE U19 Line-Up: Lombard, Seary (Mahaffy), Lewis, Taylor (Best), Mfuni, Blanchard, Walbank, O’Neill, Holland-Wilkinson, Cross-Adair, Slater.
Subs not used: Duggan, Kelly, Conroy.