Four goals in the first half for Rochdale saw Preston North End U19s fall to a 4-1 defeat in the Youth Alliance League.
Two goals in the space of four minutes put the visitors ahead midway through the first half, before Rio Pemberton pulled a goal back to give North End some life.
However, another quickfire double by Rochdale saw them put the game to bed by the end of the opening 45 minutes.
The game was end to end from the start, albeit without many chances being created for either side.
Then a rare call was made as the referee gave North End an indirect free-kick inside the 18-yard box after the ‘keeper picked up a backpass. The free-kick was laid off and fired at goal, but it ended up being blocked and cleared by the Rochdale defence.
After just returning from injury, Aaron Bennett completed 25 minutes and was replaced by Noah Mawene.
The visitors took the lead just a minute after the change when a ball to the back post, followed by a scramble in the box, left a man free at the back post to tap home for the opener.
No more than four minutes later, the visitors doubled their lead. A ball down the left set the forward through on goal and, showing some great composure, he chipped the ball over James Pradic in the North End goal.
The visitors almost had a third soon after, but Finlay Wallbank was able to deny them with a goal-line clearance.
North End got themselves a goal back via Pemberton, after a long ball forward found Callum Havard and he was able to bring the ball down to find Pemberton, who blasted his shot into the back of the net.
The Lilywhites’ comeback proved short-lived, though, as the visitors scored twice more before half-time.
It was two counter attacks which caught North End napping and they went into the break with work to do.
Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile was replaced by Kitt Nelson at half-time, and it was the attacker who had the first chance of the second period, as a nice turn saw him escape a defender, but his effort was straight at the ‘keeper.
Kian Best tried his luck from distance soon, only to see the strike fly over the bar, while at the other end substitute goalkeeper Tommy Davis was forced into action to tip the last meaningful effort of the game over the top.
Speaking after the match, PNE U19 coach Andy Fensome shared his disappointment in the team’s performance.
“We really weren’t good at all today,” said Fensome.
“We lacked intensity today. The movement and the application at many times wasn’t there and that’s really hard to say about this team.
“It just wasn’t our day at all today.”
The four goals in the first half made it an uphill battle and Fensome was disappointed in the manner in which they conceded.
“I thought all the goals were poor to concede,” said Fensome.
“We didn’t defend very well from the front all the way through to the back.
“We still did create chances for ourselves and played nice football at times, but as far as our defending was concerned that wasn’t good enough today.”
North End now go into a big fixture on Wednesday as they travel to Gillingham in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.
Fensome continued: “We want to go as far as we can in the Youth Cup.
“We’ve talked to the players and the focus now is on that game.
"They’re young players so we’ve told them that you can’t just switch it on and off.
“The boys will be up for it on Wednesday. Even though the last couple of results weren’t what we wanted, we will go there knowing we can get a result.”