A single goal from Jack Ryan just after the hour mark was enough to secure a 1-0 win over non-league Ashington CFC.
Jack Ryan put PNE ahead with an excellent finish on 62 minutes. After getting on the end of Sean Whelan cross, he turned his man and fired in to the bottom corner from the edge of box.
With the game being played the day The Ashes continued with the first day of the third test, there was certainly a cricket theme around Woodhorn Lane.
With Ashington under the management of former England cricketer Steve Harmison, and his former teammate Andrew Flintoff in attendance, it only added to the atmosphere inside the ground.
North End manager Simon Grayson sent a young side up to Ashington for the next stage of pre-season preparations, with the team led by Academy manager Nick Harrison on the night.
The side had four members of the first team squad on show for the evening, with Academy graduates Steven James, Nick Anderton, Ben Davies and Jack Ryan all taking part.
North End were playing in the new away kit for the first time and it was a slow start to the game in the North East, with Ashington having most of the chances in the opening exchanges.
The hosts won a corner after just five minutes following a miscued clearance from the PNE defence, but it was defended well by Adam Joseph Robsinson who headed clear at the near post.
It was PNE’s turn to attack next, and after Anderton was fouled on the ten minutes mark, North End were awarded a free-kick in a promising position.
It was Anderton who stepped up to take it, and it was a decent ball in, met by Heaton but his header wasn’t enough to trouble Conor Grant in the Ashington goal.
Ashington forward Dylan Armstrong then found himself one-on-one with James after a great ball in by Williamson, but the PNE ‘keeper pulls off a brilliant save to block the shot with his body.
North End continued to press as the ball fell to Lunney on the edge of the box, he aimed for goal but his effort failed to have the power to trouble Grant and the danger is cleared.
A foul by Heaton then gave the hosts a good opportunity to attack with free-kick in dangerous area. Captain Johnson aims at goal and it’s a decent effort that flies just past James’ near post.
On 35 minutes, there was a brief break in play while Adam James Robinson received treatment on the pitch after a 50/50 challenge and it sadly marked the end of the youngster’s game tonight. Robinson had to be carried off the pitch and Melle Meulensteen comes on in his place.
The forward continued to run riot, after a great ball in from Johnson down the left, Armstrong had the best chance of the game, but somehow he misses the target from two yards out. Armstrong then tried to make up for his miss minutes earlier by trying his luck from range but James gathers easily.
There were two changes in the second half, with Sean Whelan replacing Jonathan Lunney for PNE, and Tony Stephenson coming on for Ashington in place of Kyle Downey.
The hosts look to start the second period strongly and won a free-kick inside the first minute in a dangerous position. Kyle Oliver stepped up to take it but it flew wide.Substitute Stephenson then set up Johnson a minute later, but the Ashington skipper fired straight at James.
Whelan then played a clever ball to Ryan on the edge of the box. The striker laid it off for Jagne, he had space to shoot but fired well over from inside the box.
Just before the hour mark, the hosts make a quick break on the counter after a PNE corner, and Williams forces a superb save from James after a driving run.
James was on hand again after 60 minutes, Williamson laid the ball of to Armstrong but James managed to bundle away the snap shot. Dylan Davidson then came on in place of James Boyd just before North End took the lead.
On 62 minutes, Jack Ryan put PNE ahead with an excellent finish. The ball played in by Whelan, and Ryan turned his man and shoots from the edge of box into the bottom corner.
PNE almost doubled their lead just minutes later through Adam Joseph Robinson. Meulensteen with a clever turn and pass from the middle of the park to play in Robinson who is clean through, he has the ‘keeper beaten but it’s inches wide of the post.
On 66 minutes, Ashington made another change as James Loughborough came on in place of Jonathyn Quinn.
On the 70th minute, Anderton with a brilliant delivery for Ryan, he tries to dink the ‘keeper and it’s a finger tip save over the bar from Grant. The resulting corner was swung in by Meulensteen, it flashed across the face of goal, with Heaton the closest to getting a touch for PNE.
Successive chances for goalscorer Jack Ryan. The ball in by Robinson, Ryan controls it on the turn and fires at goal but it was well blocked by Harminson for a corner. It was Ryan again on the end of a chance for PNE, his header from the corner going just over the bar.
A double change followed for the hosts, with Shanks and Robson coming on for Williams and Armstrong on 75 minutes.They followed that up five minutes later with another change, Williamson being replaced by Michael Bell.
Ashington has their best opportunity of the second half with just five minutes to go but it wasn’t taken much to the surprise of the watching crowd. They continued to press for the remaining five minutes, with a corner late on but James did well to gather the ball.
As Michael Oliver blew the final whistle, Jack Ryan’s second half strike was enough to secure the win for Nick Harrison’s side.
Ashington line-up: Grant, Smith, Oliver, Williams (Shanks, 75), Harminson, Atkin, Williamson (Bell, 80) Downey (Stephenson, 45), Quinn (Loughborough, 66), Armstrong (Robson, 75) and Johnson.
Unused subs: Dunn, Flintoff
PNE line-up: James, Tait, Anderton, Jagne, Heaton, Davies, A James Robinson (Meulensteen, 35), A Joseph Robinson, Ryan, Boyd (Davidson, 60), Lunney (Whelan, 45).
Unused subs: Robert, Hancock, Cranshaw, Earl
Referee: Mr M Oliver