Reading 1 PNE 0
Swift found the net ten minutes before the break, firing home Garath McClreay’s corner after the home side had created space by taking out three PNE plyers in the middle of the penalty area.
The Lilywhites had chances to draw level, pressing hard in the second half, but were unable to find the net in front of 1,000 travelling fans from Lancashire.
Simon Grayson had handed debuts to Ben Pringle and Liam Grimshaw, the latter at right wing back in a 3-5-2 formation adopted by the Lilywhites.
The first chance of the game and the season came 13 minutes in when Jermaine Beckford had the ball in the back of the net from close range, but referee Andy Davies – one of the new professional select group two officials - adjudged that Joe Garner had brought the ball down with his hand on the way through into the box, as he collected Greg Cunningham’s dinked cross from the left.
The opening goal came on 35 minutes. A corner was played in from the right hand side; three PNE players were taken out of the equation, two being thrown to the floor, allowing John Swift time and space to drill the ball into the top right corner from 12 yards out from right wing corner by Garath McCleary.
At half-time a switch was made to a 4-4-2 with Alan Browne into the midfield at the expense of Liam Grimshaw.
Seven minutes into the second half and the yellows had two huge shouts for a penalty, both brought about by Jermaine Beckford. Firstly he broke onto Daniel Johnson’s through ball. The No.10 got to the byline and checked back, Paul McShane sliding in and handling the ball away, then from the recycled ball Pringle crossed and Becks was bundled off the ball by Joey van den Berg; both very solid shouts, but both denied by Mr Davies.
It was all North End at that stage, as Daniel Johnson intercepted a square ball and burst into the box, firing hard and low, only for Ali Al Habsi to save the powerful drive with his legs; Reading scrambling the ball clear before Paul Gallagher could get a chance at a follow up.
With 25 minutes left Anders Lindegaard did brilliantly to keep the score 1-0; diving at full stretch to deny Deniss Rakels one-on-one, after the striker latched onto McCleary’s right wing low cross.
Into the last ten minutes and a real chance fell to PNE at the back post when Paul Huntington flicked on Ben Pringle’s free kick on the left and Greg Cunningham seemed to be in space, but he was unable to get over the ball and get an effort on target.
Paul Gallagher was the net to be denied; Ali Al Habsi throwing his whole body in front of the ball to block a shot after only palming Alan Browne’s right wing cross out to the PNE No.12, who had taken the captain’s armband when skipper Tom Clarke was forced off with an injury midway through the second half.
The six minutes of stoppage time was a manic affair with North End putting balls in the box, one after the other, but despite the constant pressure they were unable to fashion a goal to take a point from the game.
Reading line-up: Al Habsi, Gunter, van den Berg, McShane (c), Evans, Beerens, Swift, Rakels (Kermorgant, 81), Obita (Watson, 66), McCleary (Harriott, 72), Williams. Subs not used: Jaakkola, Cooper, Meite, Kelly.
PNE line-up: Lindegaard, Clarke (c) (Humphrey, 72), Huntington, Wright; Grimshaw (Browne, 46), Pringle, Gallagher, Johnson, Cunningham; Beckford, Garner (Hugill, 78). Subs not used: Maxwell, Doyle, Spurr, Robinson.
Referee: Mr A Davies
Attendance: 15,764 (1,000 PNE fans)