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Match Reports

Match Report: Port Vale U19s 1 PNE U19s 2

19 November 2023

Match Reports

Match Report: Port Vale U19s 1 PNE U19s 2

19 November 2023

League leaders Preston North End edged past Port Vale in a 2-1 victory away from home to earn an important three points.

Goals from Ellis Horan and Dylan Gairns within close proximity sealed the win against tough opposition at Keele University. 

It was clear from the start both sides were eager to take the lead, and a competitive first 45 minutes was to ensue. 

PNE seemed to take a backfoot after a strong start, but Port Vale were unable to capitalise on this and find an opener.

With goalkeeper Tommy Davis and Vale’s Dom Brook both tested, it proved to be a level first half between the two sides. 

That was until a free-kick was given to the Lilywhites just outside the box in the first minute of added-time. Horan stepped up and, in a moment of magic, his effort floated straight over the wall and into the top left corner of goal.

A superb way to take the lead going into half-time, it was clear confidence was rife as North End stepped out for the second half. 

And just one minute later, a run from Gairns through the home defence set up a mid-slip shot that slotted comfortably beyond Brook. 

Two up, PNE didn’t look done yet, with Charlie Goldsmith forcing Brook to stay alert and save his promising attempt. 

Composure and determination shone through the side, denying Port Vale any opportunity to get back into the game. 

A 90th-minute attempt from the hosts hit the crossbar, and additional time saw Baylee Dipepa snatch a goal back as he converted past Davis to deny the young Lilywhites a clean sheet.

Victory was confirmed, though, and the 2-1 scoreline maintained their top-spot position in the Youth Alliance League, five points clear of second-place Wrexham. 

Speaking after the game, coach Andy Fensome was pleased with the improvement in the second half, after a slow start in the first. 

Fenners said: “We were nowhere near first half. We didn’t play well and we didn’t compete well. We ended up hanging on a little bit at times.

“The quality wasn’t good but we took the lead just before half-time with a fantastic free-kick.

“It (the goal) was quality from Ellis. He put it in the top corner and gave the boys a little bit of belief.

“We changed the system at half-time a little bit, we seemed to look more comfortable, got an early goal in the second half and I think we should’ve had more goals. 

“We want clean sheets and this is what we emphasise during the week. I thought in the second half we looked far more comfortable than we were first half, so credit to the boys.

“They picked themselves up at half-time, took a little bit of a rollocking and put into place what they’ve been doing, and we got the result.”

Goalscorer Horan was also pleased with the team’s performance, and the confidence taken from scoring the free-kick. 

He said: “I think it was a pretty slow start from myself and the boys. 

“I think to be fair the first five minutes we were very good and we really dipped down. They had a couple of chances.

“We got a free-kick at the edge of the box and I was pretty confident. I stepped up and it was a lovely free-kick which went straight into the top corner.

“I think that settled it down for me and the lads just before half-time. It was a very important goal to keep us settled. 

“I used to score a lot of free-kicks and I’ve not scored many this season so it was good to score one again. Hopefully I can start putting them in again more often.”

PNE line-up: Davis, Critchley (Wignall, 81), Pasiek (Carroll, 45), Horan (Caulfield, 88), Wilkinson, McGhee, Eccleston, Khan, Goldsmith (Nolan, 63), T.Mawene, Gairns (Tarry, 83). 

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