The new look Preston North End kick-off their pre-season fixture list with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Liam Watson’s Southport at Haig Avenue on a sunny July afternoon.
Manager Graham Westley put out two different line-ups against their Blue Square Premier opponents with an own goal and a Joel Byrom penalty in the first half.
A number of trialists featured in both halves for the Lilywhites and the performance was warmly acknowledged by a tremendous away following of almost 1,400 in a crowd of just under 2,000!
North End were ahead after only five minutes with a well-worked goal. They kept possession for about a minute with the balled switched from left to right and out to Portuguese trialist right back Tiago Rosa. He found summer acquisition Keith Keane on the right hand side, who delivered a good ball onto the edge of the six yard box where it was powered home by Southport No.4 Steve Akrigg.
It was 2-0 on 12 minutes as Tiago Rosa was again involved threading in Chris Holroyd in the right hand side of the penalty area. The January signing was upended by Louis Barnes with Mr Hussain no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Former Southport man Joel Byrom, who had taken the captain’s armband in the first half, stepped up and stroked a left footed effort to the keeper’s right, Matt Nemes going the wrong way.
The visitors continued to look the most likely to add to their lead, with another trialist, Peter Enckelman a mere spectator at the other end. Graham Cummins forced a smart save from Nemes and Byrom dragged a shot just wide after a good ball from David Buchanan.
Five minutes before the interval and change over Tiago again combined well with Byrom and the former Stevenage man lifted the ball cutely into the box where Keith Keane had ghosted in and rose for a brave header that beat Nemes, but also narrowly beat the left hand upright.
The start of the second period saw the home side have their best spell with North End’s second goalkeeping trialist David Gonzalez needed to palm a Alan Moogan corner over the bar and then Ross Farran headed against the bar from eight yards out.
John Welsh, operating at right back, needed to leave the field midway through the half after a foul on the right appeared to roll his ankle, with Jack King replacing him on the right of the back four.
Lee Trundle, trialling up front for the Lilywhites, curled a free kick from 25 yards out towards the top right hand corner, Tony McMillan – a former North End youth player – tipping the ball round for a corner on 81 minutes.
Trundle looked sharp in attack with quick feet and it looked like his ability to find a space had created a chance for Chris Beardsley in the penultimate minute, but the linesman adjudged for the former Stevenage front man to be offside, proving to be the last real action of the first run out of 2012/13.
First Half XI: Peter Enckelman, Tiago Rosa , Cliff Byrne, Jack King, David Buchanan, Keith Keane, Andy Procter, Joel Byrom, Will Hayhurst, Chris Holroyd, Graham Cummins.
Second Half XI: David Gonzalez, John Welsh (Jack King, 67), Paul Huntington, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, Scott Laird, Jeffrey Monakana, John Mousinho, Nicky Wroe, Lee Holmes, Chris Beardsley, Lee Trundle.
Referee: Mr I Hussain
Attendance: 1,916 (1,371 away fans)