Preston North End U18s will host Lincoln City on Wednesday afternoon, looking to make a positive start to the 2021 in the form of progression to the next round of the FA Youth Cup.
The third round tie, which was originally scheduled to take place at the Imps’ LNER Stadium, will now take place at Deepdale after two postponements last month due to adverse weather.
Fans will be able to watch a live, video-only broadcast of the game on PNE.com and the club’s YouTube channel, as the two sides compete for a chance to face Watford at home in the next round.
It’s North End’s first match in the competition this season, while their opponents have already seen off Solihull Moors and Oldham Athletic in away victories in the first and second rounds respectively.
The young Lilywhites head into the game in good form, with their last game being of a 3-0 win against Walsall, which was their sixth win in nine games in the North West Youth Alliance league so far this season.
Meanwhile, the hosts, who feature in the North East section of the Youth Alliance, lost 3-2 to Scunthorpe United most recently, leaving them with four wins and five losses from their nine league games.
Three of those defeats have come in their last three fixtures, in which time they’ve conceded a total of ten goals.
Nick Harrison’s side will look to add to their free-scoring exploits to date in their first game after the festive break, with none of the other 13 teams in their league having scored more than them.
They will also be aiming to emulate the results of recent FA Youth Cup campaigns – in both of the last two seasons, the U18s have progressed to the fifth round of the competition, which features all levels of Academies throughout the country vying for silverware.
Speaking ahead of the game, Academy boss Nick Harrison said:
“We have been really pleased with the season so far; especially with the number of players involved.
“We have scored goals and we always challenge our players to do that; we want to create lots of chances and score lots of goals. At the same time, we want to be difficult to beat and make it difficult for teams and that is what I am hoping for on Wednesday.
“We want our players to play in the right way and create lots of chances and attack when we can, but we want to see is well is our players dig in and realise how important it is to win games.
“When the FA Youth Cup comes along, yes, we look at the performance, but they understand the importance of winning, because that’s what matters at the next level.”
On Wednesday's oppononents, Harrison added: “They are a good team. They beat Oldham in the last round; they work very hard and have got some really good players and they can score some goals.
“I think it is going to be a really tough game. We haven’t played Lincoln very often; I think the last time was about four years ago in another cup competition, so I think it will be a really tough game, but those are the type of games we want our players to be in.
“We want the game to be tough and our players to be challenged and that will be the case on Wednesday night.”
We also caught up with second year scholar Ben Dooley who is looking to use his experiences to help the younger members of the squad on Wednesday afternoon. Click here to read what he had to say.
Follow the Acdemy on Twitter by clicking here.