Noah Mawene and Joe Rodwell-Grant on target for Preston North End's Under-19s against Rochdale
Some of the Preston North End youngsters on the fringes of the first-team squad were able to get some match action under their belts at the weekend.
The Lilywhites named a strong line-up for their Youth Alliance League clash with Rochdale at Springfields on Saturday morning.
They won the game 2-1, Noah Mawene and Joe Rodwell-Grant scoring.
Rodwell-Grant made his Championship debut last week as a late substitute against Swansea, while he’d also appeared in the closing stages of the Carabao Cup tie at Mansfield in August.
Lewis Leigh skippered the side, the midfielder having recently signed a professional three-year contract.
Having had a phased return from Covid, this was an ideal chance to get some match fitness.
First-year pros Lewis Coulton and Oliver Lombard featured in the starting XI.
Coulton had been away training with the Scotland Under-19s during the week but was needed to play with a couple of defenders carrying injuries.
Midfielder Mawene, who agreed a pro deal when he turns 17, gave North End a seventh-minute lead.
However, 10 minutes he had to be substituted after appearing to turn his ankle.
PNE doubled the lead in the 31st minute, Rodwell-Grant netting from the penalty spot after Levi Lewis had been fouled in the box.
Rochdale reduced the deficit with a goal from a corner three minutes before the interval.
There were chances for North End in the second-half but their two goals from the first period proved sufficient.
This season the Youth Alliance is an Under-19s division having previously been Under-18s.
That expansion of the age limit has allowed first-year pros to be used.
The link between PNE’s academy and the first-team set-up seems to have been strengthened this season.
The return of a reserve side in the Central League will give some of the younger players the chance to play senior football.
Previously, the gap between Under-18s football and the first-team had been a big one to try and bridge.
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