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Match Reports

YOUTH: United 2-1 Preston North End

11 March 2024

Match Reports

YOUTH: United 2-1 Preston North End

11 March 2024

United's under-18s maintained their unbeaten home record in 2024, as they defeated Preston North End 2-1 at Creighton on Saturday morning.

United headed into the game full of confidence following their gritty 3-2 triumph over Rochdale last weekend, despite Preston occupying top spot in the league table.

The opening exchanges of the game saw both teams remain very cautious when in possession, with the majority of the action occuring in the middle third of the pitch.

It was the visitors who created the first chance of the game with ten minutes played, as Thomas Randall was called into action to produce a fine save to prevent Goldsmith's effort from finding the back of the net from a tight angle.

North End continued to apply the pressure on the United defence with numerous wind-assisted corner kick deliveries threatening the United goal but to no avail.

Theo Mawene then tried his luck for the visitors but his effort from 25 yards out sailed over the bar.

After weathering the storm, United began to play more on the front foot, with Romeo Park and Freddie O'Donoghue causing problems on both sides of the pitch and testing the resilience of the Preston defence.

Minutes before the interval, it was O'Donoghue who came the closest to breaking the deadlock. James Murray's corner found the head of O'Donoghue, whose effort rattled against the crossbar and was cleared to safety.

The half-time whistle blew and both sides headed into the break with the scoreline remaining goalless.

Into the second-half and Preston immediately threatened the United goal once again. Some excellent last ditch defending from Trent Chapman, followed by some fine reaction saves from Randall denied Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile from putting the visitors ahead.

With 72 minutes played, United were ahead. Park initially found himself one-on-one with the Preston 'keeper who pushed his effort behind for a corner. United took the corner quickly, which was flicked on by Anton Dudik at the near post to an unmarked Robbie Swinburn to finish inside the six-yard-box and give United a 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later, the game was level. Randall was able to push a North End effort onto the post, but Rodriguez-Gentile was quickest to react for the visitors to level the contest.

As momentum fell the way of the opposition following their equalizing goal, United battled well to deal with the pressure and their resilience was rewarded with five minutes of normal time remaining.

Swinburn breached the North End defensive line to latch onto a through ball and was left with just the goalkeeper to beat. As he drove forward into the box, he was brought down by Preston 'keeper Tommy Davis, and a penalty was awarded. Park took responsibility and sent Davis the wrong way to give United the lead for the second time in the match with a matter of minutes remaining.

Preston piled on the pressure, but could not find a way to beat the United defence as Mark Birch's side recorded back-to-back victories in the league for the first time since August.

Speaking after the victory, Lead PDP Coach Mark Birch said: "I think we deserved it today, I think the effort and the application the lads put in was worthy of the three points.

"It's not just what they've done today, it's the effort they've put in throughout the week with all the hard work they've done and it's great that it has paid off today.

"For the last two weeks, we've really upped what we've been doing and the lads have been fantastic and it's no coincidence that you get back-to-back wins.

"I think the first 30 minutes were challenging, but we've said to the lads that you're not going to win the game in the first half an hour, but make sure you don't lose it and we stayed in the game and then started to dominate it.

"I thought James Murray and Bobby Skinner in the midfield were fantastic today, they really took on board the information we gave them through the week and they applied it in their performances.

"We want to try and get on these winning runs. I think when you go back to the Blackpool and Shrewsbury games, we played well in those games and then last week against Rochdale, we battled well and grinded out the result.

"The performances have been better than what the results look like and hopefully the lads can understand now what they have to keep doing and we can use this momemtum to push on."

Starting: Randall, Maddison (Atkinson 64'), Chapman, O'Brien, Walsh, Murray, O'Donoghue (Hopper 78'), Skinner, Dudik, Swinburn, Park.

Unused Subs: Lowes, Hodgson, Mason.

United Goals: Swinburn (72'), Park (85').

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