First half goals from Andy Little and Josh Brownhill gave North End the win in their first game at Halifax for 26 years, despite a spirited comeback from the Shaymen.
Ross Dyer reduced the arrears with a close range header just before the interval, but despite more possession after the break North End took the win.
The home side started the game in glorious sunshine in West Yorkshire and had the first opportunity to open the scoring two centre halves combining; a long throw from Marc Roberts – a dangerous weapon – met by Steve Williams six yards out, but his header was straight at Thorsten Stuckmann in the North End goal.
Despite this bright opening North End dominated the possession and the chances as the half went on and on 12 minutes they were inches away from opening the scoring. The midfield three were excellent in the opening period and Neil Kilkenny showed what he has in his locker with a 30 yard pile-driver that went across the keeper and came back off the left hand upright.
Josh Brownhill looked in fine form once again and he played a clever ball into the box for Paul Gallagher at the mid-point in the half, but the Scottish forward took his eye off the ball to look where the onrushing keeper was and failed to connect from a good opportunity.
However the No.12 went close just seconds later as the ball was rolled out to him by Kevin Davies 22 yards out, he hit a rasping drive that beat Glennon but was also an inch wide of the left hand post.
North End felt they should have had a penalty on 27 minutes, as Josh Brownhill was upended by Roberts inside the box, however, match official Seb Stockbridge only awarded a free kick right on the right hand edge of the box.
The Lilywhites weren’t disheartened however and took full advantage. Brownhill got up and dusted himself down before playing a clever free kick into the penalty spot to where Gallagher had spun into space – his shot was well saved by Matt Glennon but it only came back to Andy Little who nodded home from five yards out for his second goal of pre-season.
The football was now flowing from Simon Grayson’s side – the manager watching from the back of the main stand from a Shay unrecognisable to anyone who came the last time the Lilywhites played at the ground back in 1987 – and Little could have had a hat-trick within three minutes of his opener, firstly volleying wide after good build up by Gallagher and then heading over from Calum Woods’ right wing cross.
It was two eight minutes before the interval and Josh Brownhill made it three in as many games; curling into the bottom left hand corner after fantastic build up play; the ball laid off by Kevin Davies.
Brownhill then set up Gallagher whose shot was brilliantly saved by Glennon after more good build up. And in a one-on-one dual the FC Halifax keeper again denied Gallagher from a deflected shot from 30 yards – the ball coming off Williams. Glennon down low to his right to turn behind and Halifax-born North End skipper Tom Clarke met the corner, but it was again blocked by Marc Roberts.
The home side got back into the game with a rare foray forward. It again came from the dangerous throw of Marc Roberts. His throw was flicked on to Williams and went out to recent summer signing Scott Boden, who turned the ball back in for another new recruit Ross Dyer to head home from close range.
The Shaymen started the second half the better side and after a flurry of PNE changes at the middle of the half, the creator of the home side’s first goal, Scott Boden was gifted a chance to level the scores, but in a one-on-one with Jamie Jones the new North End keeper came out on top, to push away a curling effort from the forward who had already scored four in four during pre-season.
The second half was much more even in terms of possession, without too many chances for either side, Matty Pearson going close with a long distance strike for the home side from a right hand channel, that was just over second half keeper Jamie Jones’ cross bar.
For the Lilywhites substitutes Will Hayhurst and Alan Browne almost combines with five minutes left, the left winger beating the full back before pulling the ball back for the young Irishman, however, his toe-poked effort was blocked well and ended up in Glennon’s hands.
Pearson again tested Jones in the final two minutes with a curling shot, but the keeper got down well to his left to get a strong hand and push the ball to safety and give North End another pre-season victory.
PNE line-up: Stuckmann (Jones, 46), Woods (Humphrey, 67), Clarke (c) (Welsh, 67), Wright (B Davies, 67), Buchanan (Laird, 67), King (Keane, 67), Kilkenny (Wiseman, 67), Brownhill (Browne, 46), Little (Hayhurst, 46), K Davies (Garner, 46), Gallagher (Hugill, 67). Subs: Jones, Browne, Hayhurst, Garner, B Davies, Wiseman, Laird, Keane, Welsh, Humphrey.
FC Halifax Town: Glennon, McManus, K Roberts, M Roberts, Williams, Pearson, Boden, Trialist, Smith, Dyer, Marshall. Subs: Hibbs, Senior, Jackson, Ainge, Bolton, Marie.
Attendance:813 (198 away fans)
Referee: Mr Seb Stockbridge