Josh Seary scored a brace to earn a 2-0 victory for Preston North End reserves over Bolton Wanderers in the opening match of the Central League campaign.
PNE had the better of the chances in the first half, with Ben Woodburn coming close on a number of occasions, and Jack Whatmough then struck the foot of the post early in the second period.
Seary broke the deadlock for the Lilywhites in the 56th minute with a tidy finish and he got his second of the afternoon to seal the win with 11 minutes left.
North End fielded a mix of youth and experience, with the likes of Dai Cornell, Greg Cunningham and Patrick Bauer starting, while Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile and Kacper Pasiek were among the youngsters featuring.
The visitors almost made a very early breakthrough inside the opening minute of the match when the ball broke kindly for Finlay Lockett, but Cornell came up with a good stop at close range, and North End’s shot-stopper was called into action again ten minutes in as he tipped Gez Sitole’s free-kick from 20 yards over the crossbar.
Woodburn, playing just in behind Rodriguez-Gentile, sent two efforts just too high to trouble Luke Hutchinson in goal, before Bolton’s Sithole passed up a presentable opportunity just after the half-hour mark.
Woodburn was causing all sorts of problems and probably couldn’t believe his luck when a defender threw themselves in front of a volley, and he was again denied from 20 yards just 30 seconds later by ‘keeper Hutchinson.
Rodriguez-Gentile dragged an effort just wide inside the opening minute of the second half, before Mawene had two big chances – seeing the first well saved by Hutchinson, while the next was too high to trouble the ‘keeper.
North End were inches away from making the breakthrough in the 55th minute when Whatmough headed Lewis Leigh’s corner against the base of the post.
The Lilywhites soon had their opener, though, as Mawene slotted the ball through for Seary who took a touch before expertly firing past Hutchinson.
Bolton – who hadn’t had much joy in the second half – broke from a PNE corner in the 67th minute and Trevon Bryan found himself through on goal, only to be frustrated by a great Cornell stop.
Rodriguez-Gentile was proving a real nuisance at the top end of the pitch, but he just couldn’t find the goal he deserved, seeing a shot saved before then having an effort blocked from just a few yards out.
The three points were all but confirmed in the 79th minute when Seary got on the scoresheet for the second time, receiving the ball from sub Kitt Nelson, and the right wing back turned well to fire into the bottom corner.
First-year scholar Max Wilson could have put the gloss on the scoreline eight minutes from time when he was found by Nelson, but he couldn’t quite find the target.
PNE line-up: Cornell; Whatmough (Horan, 62), Bauer, Cunningham (McGhee, 83); Seary, Taylor, Leigh (Wilson, 78), Pasiek; Woodburn (Nelson, 62), Mawene; Rodriguez-Gentile. Subs not used: Davis.
Referee: Mr B Lamb.