Ryan Lowe was pleased with how North End’s youngsters rode the challenge of playing against a much older side in the 3-0 victory over Bury.
PNE took a team made up of young professionals and scholars to Gigg Lane for what was an emotional afternoon for the home supporters, who have this weekend returned to their traditional home after four years away.
Despite their lowly position in terms of division, there was plenty more age and experience in the Bury ranks than North End’s, so the manager was happy with how the young Lilywhites dealt with that.
Ryan said: “It was a tough test for them, especially in the first half with tackles flying in and whatnot.
“They were getting in our faces and we had to find a way and they sure did. They scored three good goals so I’m really pleased.
“For our youngsters to come up with something like that is important for them and I thought they rode the challenge really well in terms of the toughness and competitive side of things.
“We asked them to play with freedom and to get up the top end of the pitch with little pullbacks and darting runs inside and that’s certainly what they did.
“So credit to the youngsters, they’ve been fantastic. But I’ve just said to them in there don’t think like, ‘Yeah I’m alright now I’m playing first team football.’
“They’ve got to keep earning it and they’ve got to stay there because they’re warranting it at the moment and long may that continue.”
North End’s first two goals of the afternoon were superb solo efforts by Kian Taylor and Lewis Leigh, who both weaved in and out of the home defence before finding the back of the net.
Kitt Nelson then capped off the victory in the second half with a nice touch and finish, after receiving the ball with his back to goal.
For the hosts, it’s very much a work in progress after years of complications were somewhat resolved recently as Bury FC and Bury AFC merged to see the club – founded in 1885 – return to their home at Gigg Lane.
The North End gaffer experienced promotion with the Shakers as both a player and a manager, so he was understandably emotional about being back at his former home.
Ryan said: “I didn’t want it to be about me because I’ve been here before. It was about the fans coming back in their numbers, and our fans being there with us as well and our youngsters pitting their wits against some solid pros and ex-pros and good payers.
“But it’s always nice to have a game back at Gigg Lane. I never thought I’d see the day of coming back to Gigg Lane.
“I played here a couple of weeks ago in a couple of charity matches but to have a competitive match, even though it was only a friendly, and to see the fans out in their numbers and really rallying their team on [was great].
“I was a little bit emotional – I’m not going to lie – towards the end, but I’m just pleased that Bury are back in business now and they can continue their journey back up the leagues.”