Preston North End have progressed to the Fifth Round of the FA Youth Cup after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory against Sunderland.
In a game that finished 1-1 after 90 minutes and 2-2 after extra-time, North End had Goalkeeper Dominic Comrie to thank after he saved three spot kicks in the shoot-out.
It had all looked so good for the hosts early on when Ryan Noble hit his 33rd goal of the season to give the home side the lead with barely 5 minutes on the clock. The visitors responded but despite playing some attractive football it was the home side who carried the greater threat.
As the Black Cats threatened to double their advantage Craig Lynch and John Egan both went close. First, Lynch was denied by an outstanding save from Comrie and then from the resulting corner Egan saw his header cannon back off the bar.
With North End seemingly running out of time, they found an unlikely equaliser with little over 60 seconds still on the clock. Jamie Proctor latched on to a long ball after some slack play from the home-side and the young forward advanced to drive home inside the far post.
Within three minutes of the restart the home side were back ahead when Lynch wriggled his way into space eighteen yards out before dispatching a measured shot into the bottom corner of the net.
But North End were not to be undone and in a resilient display the visitors took the game to a shoot-out when Neil Dougan fired home a last gasp half volley in the final minute of extra-time.
In the shoot-out Comrie stepped up to the plate to save from from Sunderland’s James Armstrong, Blair Adams and Craig Lynch while Tom Owens, Jamie Proctor and Sam Hart all coolly converted for the men from Lancashire to send them side through to the Fifth Round.
North End will now face the victors of this evenings Brighton Hove Albion vs Everton fixture full of confidence having conquered Manchester City and Sunderland in this season’s competition.
Speaking after the match, Coach Jamie Hoyland, said:
“They’ve kept their cool and their discipline. Dominic saved them and the other lads slotted every one of the penalties away and I’m proud of every single one of them tonight.”
“It shows how they’ve matured as players, anyone who comes down to watch the Youth team knows I want them to play football but they also played with cool heads tonight and they had to have them tonight and that shows that they’re learning.”
“I think the Gaffer’s been brilliant, he came in before and after the game and the lads are made up really and I’m really really proud of them.”