A strong Preston North End side capped off a return to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium with a superb display against Blackpool in the Central League, beating their Lancashire rivals 3-0.
PNE were largely the dominant side in the first half and January signing Josh Onomah grabbed his first goal in a North End shirt seven minutes in, and just six minutes later the score was doubled courtesy of Liam Delap.
In what was a fiercely-contested game, Onomah found himself on a run into the box which would result in his second of the afternoon – taking the ball in his stride and slotting home calmly in the 50th minute.
North End fielded a strong side on the day, with a mix of Academy and senior players in from the start, including Dai Cornell, Patrick Bauer, Robbie Brady, Onomah, Delap and Ben Woodburn – all of whom didn’t feature in last Saturday’s goalless draw with Watford, excluding the latter.
The start to the game was full of energy, as PNE almost claimed the breakthrough in the opening five minutes. Onomah made the right wing his own during this moment, cut into the box and found Delap at the far post, who crashed his effort off the woodwork in agonisingly close fashion.
However, in the seventh minute, Brady burst down the left flank and set up Delap, who took on his man just outside the box and allowed midfielder Onomah to drill his low shot into the bottom right-hand corner for the opener.
PNE went on to extend the lead thanks to Delap in the 13th minute, who already had an assist to his name. It may have been a scramble in the box following a corner from the left, but the Manchester City loanee took the ball in the midst of it and fired powerfully into the top of the net.
Blackpool tried to find a response of their own soon after, but to no success. First team attacker Keshi Anderson came close with a thunderous free-kick from outside the area, which Cornell needed to parry away from danger.
Nearing the end of the first 45 minutes, the hosts again had a narrow chance at troubling Cornell, but the effort thumped off the left post with a Beryly Lubala shot from a tight angle.
Woodburn then could have claimed a third just before the half-time whistle, as a cross from the right wing made its way into his path and – at close range and unmarked – he sent his first-time attempt went wide of goal.
The second half started in much the same way as the first – with PNE on the front foot – and on 50 minutes Onomah gleefully secured his brace for the afternoon, by taking the through ball in his stride and slotting past the ‘keeper into the middle of the net.
It looked as though a fourth was on its way when Woodburn met the cross of Delap inside the area and released a low shot down the middle in the 60th minute, but Stuart Moore stuck out a foot to keep North End’s advantage at three.
In the final 20 minutes of the game, many of PNE’s senior players made way for some of the U19s on the bench, and the Lilywhites went on to maintain their unbeaten status in the Central League.
PNE line-up: Cornell; Taylor, Bauer, Slater; Seary, Kamara, Onomah (Best, 71), Woodburn, Brady (Pasiek, 71); Cross-Adair, Delap (Nelson, 79). Subs not used: Davis.
Referee: Mr C Porter.