Preston North End U18s were knocked out of the Lancashire FA Professional Youth Cup after a 3-2 defeat to Burnley.
The Clarets took an early lead at Springfields through Zac Johnson, before North End found a deserved leveller in first half stoppage-time courtesy of Tom Wilkinson.
Strikes from Ollie Pimlott and Vernon Marsara at opposite ends of the second half for Burnley put them in the driver’s seat, while Dylan Gairns got one back for PNE in the 98th minute.
In glorious sun and windy conditions, it wasn’t the start North End planned for as the visitors took the lead with just two minutes on the clock, when Johnson was found inside the box and he fired over the head of Tommy Davis, into the back of the net.
That was about it, though, in terms of first-half goalscoring opportunities for the visitors, with North End creating some big chances.
With 17 minutes gone, Charlie Goldsmith sent Kacper Pasiek down the left-hand side and he dinked the ball across goal, but the strong winds worked against him and it stayed out.
Ayden Garrigan then came even closer four minutes later when he hit a great effort across goal and against the post.
After Max Wilson saw a volley go wide and Callum Havard had a close effort blocked, the woodwork again denied PNE and Theo Mawene. In the first minute of stoppage-time, the midfielder went on a great run and saw a low effort – which looked destined for goal – tipped on to the woodwork by the goalkeeper.
Havard was then denied one-on-one, and from the resulting corner North End finally got the equaliser they deserved as a loose ball was sent into the far corner by Wilkinson.
PNE’s work was undone, though, six minutes into the second half when Johnson’s deflected shot fell kindly to Pimlott six yards out and the forward finished first time.
Goldsmith could have applied an immediate response for the hosts almost straight from the restart, but his header on the end of Garrigan’s cross was wide.
Right wing back Garrigan was the creator again midway through the half when he found Wilson in the box, and the midfielder’s prod towards goal was kept out by the ‘keeper.
North End were putting the visitors under plenty of pressure, but it was Burnley who got the next goal against the run of play, with substitute Masara bearing down on goal and finishing past Davis in the 96th minute.
PNE got one back three minutes later in quite remarkable circumstances, when goalkeeper Jon Ander Vilar Robinson placed the ball on the ground – thinking a free-kick had been given – but Gairns, knowing the ball was live, slotted home to pull a goal back.
That wasn’t to be enough, though, as the Lilywhites were knocked out in the first round of the competition which they won last season.
Reacting to the match after full-time, coach Andy Fensome was left frustrated by his side's exit on a day where PNE could have had a host of goals.
Fenners said: “We’re really disappointed we’ve lost and with the sloppy goals we’ve given away.
“We didn’t start the game well enough and then we ended up chasing it, but once we started playing our game we played well and created a number of chances where you’ve just got to be more ruthless to score.
“There were conversations at half-time but then again a sloppy early goal means we’re chasing them again, but having said that, I think we dominated in terms of possession and territory.
“We stopped them passing the ball around which we know they like to do and created chances, but we just didn’t take enough of them today.”
North End came up against Burnley in last season's competition in the semi-finals, winning on a penalty shootout to set up the showpiece clash against Accrington Stanley.
They won't have the opportunity to play in the Leyland final this year, though, having been eliminated at Springfields.
“The feeling in the dressing room is disappointment," added Fenners.
"Definitely from the staff anyway but the players should be too because it’s a cup competition so the more games you play, the more you develop.
“We won this competition last year and now we’re out so we’re disappointed.”
PNE line-up: Davis; Wilkinson, McGhee, Brindle; Garrigan, Wilson, Kamara, T.Mawene (Khan, 59), Pasiek (Carroll,78); Havard (Gairns, 45), Goldsmith. Subs not used: Critchley, Stringfellow.
Referee: Mr J Ashworth-Sears.