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Match Reports

Match Report: PNE U18 1 Fleetwood Town U18 4

8 January 2023

A late second-half surge from Fleetwood Town saw them walk away 4-1 victors against Preston North End U18s in the Youth Alliance Cup.

Dylan Gairns scored North End’s only goal of the game in the first half to give them the lead.

However, four strikes in the final 20 minutes for the visitors saw them take the three points.

Fleetwood Town started brightly when they forced Li Bau Stowell into an early save, before Pharrell Brown went close after unleashing a strike from outside the box which skimmed the crossbar and went over.

The young North End side worked their way into the game and took the lead just 18 minutes in. PNE capitalised on a poor goal-kick, with Gairns picking the ball up, before driving at his man and perfectly placing his effort into the bottom right-hand corner.

The visitors were looking for an equaliser and they nearly got it as a long ball over the top of the defence found Mikey Lane racing in on goal, but he didn’t get the right connection and sent the effort wide.

Lane came even closer soon after, when he fired an effort towards the corner of goal in the six-yard box, only to see it bounce off the post and be eventually cleared.

To finish the half, Stowell made a big save to once again deny Lane from point-blank range.

There was a lengthy stoppage just a few minutes into the second half as Cole Wood in the Fleetwood goal appeared to dislocate his finger and he had to be replaced by an outfield player when he was unable to continue.

Gairns had a great chance to get his and North End’s second of the game when he worked his way into the box, but he fired the ball straight at the ‘keeper.

Lane looked to be breaking through on goal again, but captain Tom Wilkinson brought him down and picked up the first yellow card of the match.

The resulting free-kick saw the visitors equalise as the free-kick curled majestically into the top left-hand corner.

Just four minutes later, Fleetwood scored two more. The first saw Liam Roberts blast the ball past substitute goalkeeper Rhomey Ashby-Hammond, while the visitors then capitalised on a fatigued North End defence for their third of the day.

A fourth then followed right at the death when a chipped effort made its way over Ashby-Hammond, and PNE bowed out of the Youth Alliance Cup.

Coach John Welsh felt the result didn't reflect the game as a whole, feeling the young Lilywhites performed well for the majority of the game.

Welsh said: "I have to say I think the scoreline flattered Fleetwood a bit.

“I actually thought it was an okay performance.

“It was a young team. We knew it was going to be difficult, but I felt we matched them for large parts.

“We did well to take the lead in the first half, but I think by the end of the game the physicality caught up with some of the boys.”

With a game in the Youth Alliance League the day before and multiple players with the first team for the Emirates FA Cup tie against Huddersfield Town, many of the younger players in the squad were given the opportunity to impress, and Welsh was pleased with how they performed.

“There is definitely room to improve but I was pleased with their efforts today,” continued Welsh.

“They worked their socks off throughout. We stayed in the game, defended when we needed to and competed in every area.

“It was a good chance for them to see the level and what it involves.

“The experience will mean a lot more than the result.”

PNE U18 line-up: Stowell (Ashby-Hammond, 58), T.Mawene, Brindle, Garrigan, Wilkinson, Critchley (McGhee, 58), Eccleston (Pemberton, 64), Tarry (Fitton, 78), Gairns, Carroll, Goldsmith (Nolan, 32).


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