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Match Reports

Match Report: Bolton Wanderers U19 1 PNE U19 1

14 November 2021

Preston North End U19s earned their first draw of the season away at Bolton Wanderers.

A wonderful goal from Joe Rodwell-Grant saw the Lilywhites end a tricky first half 1-0 ahead before the Trotters equalised from a corner on 50 minutes.

After that, both sides were gifted golden opportunities to secure all three points but were unable to take them and the match finished 1-1.

North End were without several key players through a combination of injury, illness and international duty.

Three changes were made to the side that held Burnley to a draw after 120 minutes before exiting the Lancashire FA Professional Youth Cup on penalties in midweek.

Jacob Barry returned in goal after keeping a clean sheet in his first ever U19s match against Morecambe the previous weekend, while Isaac Khan and Rio Pemberton were replaced by Rodwell-Grant and Kitt Nelson.

The match kicked off with PNE uncharacteristically under the cosh as their opponents struck the post just two minutes in and their intense pressing prevented the Lilywhites from finding any sort of rhythm.

It was testament to North End’s sturdy defence, marshalled by Teddy Mfuni who had a fine game, that they managed to weather the storm of the opening 20 minutes and restricted Bolton to few shots on goal.

Youth team coach Andy Fensome took charge of the team for this game and his side began to grow into the game and on 28 minutes, a fine cross was sent in from the right by Vaughn Green but Jacob Slater could only head it over the bar.

PNE were beginning to ask their opponents some questions of their own and six minutes before half-time, they took the lead.

Rodwell-Grant, who had returned to the side for this game, received the ball on the edge of the area after it bounced off a Bolton defender. He took a touch and then curled a shot straight into the top right-hand corner, leaving the 'keeper with no chance.

North End almost immediately conceded after scoring as the Bolton centre forward received his own bounce off a defender into his path but blazed his close-range strike over the bar.

The Lilywhites went in to half-time 1-0 up, however they weren’t ahead for long as five minutes into the second half, Wanderers equalised with a routine header from a corner, bringing the score level again.

In spite of the goal, PNE began the second half on the front foot with captain Lewis Leigh hitting the post from a free-kick and Rodwell-Grant hit the bar with an audacious chip in the five-minute spell immediately after Bolton’s goal.

Thereafter, the game settled down and became a lot more scrappy in the middle with neither side being able to get near the other’s goal.

On the 70-minute mark, the match began to open up again and Barry was forced into his first save of the morning, a stop at his near post after a surging run and shot from the Bolton centre forward.

Just two minutes later, Nelson was picked out over the top and was in on goal but hit his shot straight at the 'keeper.

The woodwork was struck again on 79 minutes, this time by a Bolton player as the hosts again posed problems for North End from a corner, and the defender who climbed highest saw his header smack the top of the bar and bounce out for a goal kick.

Rodwell-Grant nearly doubled his tally three minutes later after some great individual work but hit his shot straight down the throat of the Bolton goalkeeper.

Finally on 90 minutes, both sides had their best chances to snatch a win as a delightful cross from the Trotters’ right midfielder was met with a header at the far post that Barry was somehow able to parry wide with a world-class save.

Moments later, North End broke on the counter-attack and Kian Taylor was played in but his ferocious shot cannoned off the crossbar before the final whistle sounded just seconds later.

Speaking to PNE.Com after the match, Fensome reflected that a draw was probably the fair result, saying: “I think we had enough chances to win the game.

“But then you look towards the end of the game, we weren’t hanging on but they had a few corners in the last four or five minutes and they put a lot of pressure on.”

He was pleased with the effort from his players who have had a demanding schedule over the last few weeks.

“I thought the boys battled well,” said Fensome. “We had a tough game midweek and some of them who hadn’t played have played two games now in three or four days. I thought they worked hard and at the end of the day, it’s a point.”

PNE line-up: Barry, Wallbank, Blanchard, Leigh (C), Mfuni, Best, Green, Taylor, Rodwell-Grant, Nelson, Slater

PNE subs: Pasiek, Wood, Khan, Pemberton, Havard


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