Hartlepool u18 travelled to Preston North End in the opening group fixture in the Youth Alliance Cup.
The host were in good form having beaten Oldham 9-1 and more recently stockport 5-0 but it was an even start to the game with neither side testing the GKs too much.
As the half progressed it was Preston who looked the more threatening, with Jake Wilkinson tipping a venomous shot over the bar to keep the scores level.
Pools had to stand strong, while Preston with a strong wind behind them piled on the pressure, but the back 3 of Louis Stephenson, Charlie Rose and Campbell Darcy defended resolutely with some outstanding blocks and clearances.
Pools carried a threat in the counter attack with Louie Evans in particular bursting forward with the ball but didn’t test the hosts GK enough.
The second half continued much the same as the first half with Preston controlling possession but finding It difficult to create too many clear cut chances.
The deadlock was nearly broken, when a ball found its way to the Preston forward but his shot hit the outside of post and bounced clear.
Millen Burnett was introduced and brought a spark to Pools, and was heavily involved in some of the most threatening moments, but Max Storey had 2 efforts comfortably saved and Louie Evans snatched at a chance that he will have hoped to do better with.
With 10 minutes to go Preston were reduced to
10 men, when their forward received a red card for an off the ball offence.
The game ended with a creditable 0-0 draw against a very good young Preston side.
Academy Coach, Ian McGukin added:
Pleased with lads to come away with a clean sheet against a very strong Preston side. Hopefully the players can take confidence from the result and keep improving performance levels in coming weeks.
We have to be mindful that the programme still in its infancy and we have to be patient with the young players who are adapting to a full time training model.