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Youth Team

Match-Winner Best Had Full Confidence In FA Youth Cup Victory

19 January 2023

Match-winner Kian Best was always confident Preston North End U18s could turn the game around after conceding early in the FA Youth Cup victory over Gillingham.

The Gills got off to a perfect start at the home of their first team, Priestfield Stadium, when they took the lead inside the opening minute of the game.

North End rallied though and grew into the tie, and they drew level through Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile midway through the first half.

Best then earned his side a place in the fifth round of the competition when he superbly executed a 25-yard free-kick with just a few minutes left on the clock.

Match Reports

Match Report: Gillingham U18 1 PNE U18 2

18 January 2023

On the game as a whole, Kian said: “We started off slowly. Obviously we conceded first, but then after that I think we deserved to win.

“We’ve gone behind quite a lot in the last few games, which needs to stop, but the team has shown a few times that when we’ve gone behind we can still win games, so I was still confident.

“With the players we had on the pitch, I think we all believed in each other and trusted each other to get back into the game.

“We created chances throughout the night so it was good to win because I feel like we deserved it.”

Lining up as part of a defensive three, Kian was perhaps not the man you’d expect to be stepping up to take a free-kick from a dangerous position just outside the area.

He’s put away quite a few of them, though, while progressing through the age groups, but it was only a late decision for him to be on those set-piece duties.

Kian laughed: “Fenners [Andy Fensome] actually told me just before we went out that he wanted me to take the direct free-kicks, so as soon as it got given I fancied myself in that position.

“I got booked actually for moving the ball more inside for the free-kick because I thought it would have given me a better chance.

“But then when the ref moved the ball back and booked me, I felt I had to score to show him that I didn’t have to move the ball.

“I think someone in the wall turned or something because it went through a gap and it went in.

“It was a good moment because my mum and dad were in the crowd as well. They drove down in the morning, so it was good to celebrate in front of them.”

Up next for the young Lilywhites is another long journey on the road, with a fifth round clash at Kenilworth Road against Luton Town on the horizon.

The two sides met there not all that long ago in the Youth Alliance Cup final last year, and PNE came out 4-1 winners that night.

Luton are having a quite remarkable season, though, setting the pace in their division, while scoring an incredible 60 goals in just 13 league matches.

Kian added: “We obviously go there knowing we won there last season, with quite a few of the boys that are still here.

“It’ll be a tough game as it’s the last 16 of the competition, but we know if we win we’ll be in the quarter-finals, which is crazy really when you think about the big teams that are left in the competition.”

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