A stunning first goal in PNE colours for John Mousinho was the highlight for North End against Neil Warnock’s Leeds United.
The Lilywhites rounded off their Deepdale preparations for the big kick-off a the Yorkshire side ran out 3-1 winners, but the scoreline did not reflect the match as the side put on some excellent football for the six and a half thousand crowd, with the team hitting the crossbar twice and having one cleared off the line in an exciting display.
A goal from defender Tom Lees broke the deadlock just after the half hour mark, chesting the ball down well on the penalty spot and volleying left footed past Thorsten Stuckmann after a series of Leeds corners.
Mousinho levelled it up with a thunderous strike from outside the box just before the hour mark, but after a number of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game Sam Byram and Aidan White fired home from set pieces to give the scoreline an unfair reflection of how the game had gone.
After a series of showers just before kick-off, the sun came out as the game started, but the superb looking pitch was slick and allowed both sides to play some fast paced passing football.
And North End took advantage of the surface early on with some football that almost brought about an early goal, with John Mousinho forcing Paddy Kenny into a sharp low save to his right, to deny the PNE skipper.
Thorsten Stuckmann was soon in the action, a low save of his own, down to his left to deny Luciano Becchio on four minutes and then shortly after he got up high to tip a Ross McCormack cross-cum-shot out for a corner.
Nicky Wroe, playing in a role out on the right hand side, looked a threat for the Lilywhites, attacking the large Leeds travelling contingent in the first half and he was inches over the cross bar with a left footed drive from a right hand channel just outside the box.
But Jack King was even closer a minute later, in a similar position on the opposite side of the box he leapt spectacularly to execute a perfect overhead kick that beat Paddy Kenny, but crashed back off the cross bar and to a Leeds defender.
The visitors broke the deadlock, somewhat against the run of play, with 13 minutes left in the first half. After a series of corners the ball came in towards the penalty spot and the Whites’ No.4 chested the ball down and volleyed home into the top left hand corner, giving Stuckmann no chance.
North End looked to bounce back before the interval and former Leeds man Paul Huntington went closest. Scott Laird drilled a free kick from his own half to the apex of the right hand side of the penalty area, the ball ricocheted off Nicky Wroe and fell perfectly for PNE’s No.4 to drill left footed but Jason Pearce was able to get his body in the way and deflect the ball out for a corner.
After the break the Lilywhites came out of the block like Usain Bolt. Firstly Jack King almost caught Paddy Kenny out of his box, before Mousinho saw a shot blocked from Nicky Wroe’s deep corner.
But there was no one on hand to deny the No.21 on 57 minutes. Lee Holmes worked the ball down the left hand side before the ball was fed to Jack King. The midfielder laid it back to John Mousinho 25 yards out, who took a touch and bent past the defenders into the bottom right hand corner.
And the skipper could have made it 2-1 just minutes later as Scott Laird delivered the perfect ball into the six yard box and Mousinho made a perfectly timed run and looked like he would power a diving header past Kenny, but missed the ball.
Both sides made a plethora of changes just after the goal and this changed the fluidity of the game and with 25 minutes left Leeds took the lead for the second time, sub Sam Byram firing home on the volley from Paul Green’s right wing corner.
North End almost levelled it up immediately as Lee Holmes’ inswinging corner was met powerfully by former Leeds man Paul Huntington, but his header was blocked on the line just next to the right hand post.
The visitors extended their lead with ten minutes left, again from a corner, as yet another substitute Aidan White drilled home from 12 yards out after another corner from the right hand side.
The Lilywhites didn’t give up as Lee Holmes saw a shot deflected just wide of the left hand post and then the team rattled the cross bar for the second time as John Mousinho laid off Joel Byrom’s corner for Jeffrey Monakana and his shot came crashing back out and away to safety.
PNE Line-Up: Stuckmann, Keane (Welsh, 79), Laird, Huntington, Cansdell-Sherriff, Wroe (Monakana, 61), Holmes, Byrom, Mousinho, King (Winnall, 61), Beardsley (Sodje, 61). Subs Not Used: Robertson, Cummins, Holroyd, Hayhurst, Wright, James.
Referee: Mr Darren Bond