PNE U19s picked up another three points on Saturday morning, as first-half strikes from Kitt Nelson and Mikey O’Neill were enough for North End to overcome a spirited Morecambe side at Springfields
And they had to show character late on, as first-year left back Kacper Pasiek saw red with ten minutes of the game remaining; the defence standing strong to withstand the pressure and take the win.
North End started on the front foot, and even before taking an early lead, could have been ahead when Pasiek fired over after a driving run from left back.
However, on four minutes the young Lilywhites took the lead. Good link up play between Nelson and O’Neill saw the former race through on goal and he emphatically fired his effort into the top right-hand corner.
It was all PNE in the opening half and they had a great chance to double their lead when Lewis Leigh slid through O’Neill, but his effort was well saved by the Shrimps 'keeper.
After controlling the game, James Pradic was called into action just after half an hour in, making a smart save diving to his right, as the attempt looked to be creeping into the corner.
But on the stroke of half-time the home side deservedly doubled their lead. Mikey O’Neill picked up the ball on the edge of the area and fired a strike past the 'keeper into the bottom corner – his last touch of the game, with U16 Theo Carroll replacing him at the interval.
The Lilywhites continued controlling the game in the second half; the lively Kaedyn Kamara had a shot that just went wide of the post, before substitute Carroll rattled the post from a Kamara cross.
But the men from north Lancashire got themselves back into the game from a set piece, which was whipped to the back post for the unmarked man to head home and halve the deficit.
Nelson had a brace of chances to double his total for the day, shooting narrowly over the bar, before heading Rio Pemberton’s cross straight at the keeper, but the last ten minutes were made to be a tricky test after Paciek brought down a Morecambe forward as he was racing through on goal. He was the last man and gave match official Ashton Wroe no choice but to show a red card.
But whilst Morecambe had plenty of possession, Pradic was not overly tested, as the PNE defence stood strong to secure the win.
After the game coach Andy Fensome felt the team should have put the game to bed well before the red card made it a tense finish.
“Overall, I think it was quite mixed,” he said. “I thought we were really good at times, especially in the first half and [the result] could, and should, have been out of sight at the break.
“We created plenty of chances, didn’t take them, then the pressure came at the end, and we didn’t defend that very well.”
With the midweek Central League game against Fleetwood postponed, the former PNE full back is looking for the side to try and put together a complete 90 minutes when they return to action at Port Vale next weekend.
“We want consistency, that’s what we keep talking to the young guys about,” he continued. “I think we played and are playing some good football, it is just about putting our chances away to make sure we come away with results.”