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Preston North End 1-0 Heart of Midlothian

18 July 2015

Preston North End made it three pre-season games without conceding a goal after defeating Heart of Midlothian at Deepdale.

A solitary Joe Garner header was enough to give the Lilywhites the win after a desperate clearance by Hearts 'keeper Neil Alexander went horribly wrong.

 continue ahead of the Sky Bet Championship season.preparationsThe result makes it back-to-back successes for PNE this week as 

Simon Grayson was without Neil Kilkenny who had not recovered from a knock gained earlier in pre-season, while Kyel Reid missed out with a bout of tonsillitis.

The Lilywhites started the auld enemy encounter with Jermaine Beckford and Garner leading the line; Will Keane in a supporting role down the left, and the front duo linked up well in the tenth minute to carve open the first chance of the match; Beckford scooping over from Garner’s chip.

The visitors were pinging the ball around well without creating much in the final third, and North End almost made them pay in the 12th minute when Paul Huntington rose highest at the back post to head Daniel Johnson’s free kick goal bound; only for Sean McKirdy to hack the ball clear off the line.

Hearts’ first threat on the PNE goal came as the opening quarter of the game expired through Osman Sow, but the big striding Swede dragged his shot wide left of Jamie Jones’ net from the edge of the area.
Sow was almost in again just minutes later, and it took a last ditch intervention by Socceroo Bailey Wright to snuff out the danger.

On the half hour mark Preston had a good penalty claim waved away by referee Mr Handley.

A long ball forward was superbly headed on by Garner who found his strike partner Beckford on the right hand edge of the penalty box. 

The PNE No.10 surged forward before cutting in towards goal when Blazej Augustyn made his move, sending the Jamaican sprawling across the luscious Deepdale turf.

But the referee said no and play raged on must to the chagrin of Beckford.

The Jambos had their best chance of the opening 32 minutes through Callum Paterson who headed over, unchallenged, from Billy King’s corner; a corner which Paterson himself had won following his deflected 
free kick, dipping, but not quite enough from a Hearts perspective, as it floated over Jones’ crossbar.

The away side, backed by an impressive and vocal following, were beginning to grow into the contest as it edged towards half-time.

And the rangy Sow was again providing their main attacking intent.

With 41 minutes played, the 25-year-old got the better of Wright on the right hand edge of the PNE penalty box before flashing his effort across goal and just wide with Jones at full stretch.

North End Player of the Year Paul Huntington was the man to have the final say of the first half following a game of pinball in the Hearts area, but his shot was well over, and, despite his protests for a corner, a gaol kick was awarded.

With no changes made at the break, both teams came out showing their intent to get on the scoresheet.

Once again Paterson got his head to a King corner kick but he couldn’t find the target, and that was followed by a deluge on the Hearts goal by the Preston attack.

Firstly, Garner slipped a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Keane down the left hand side of the box; the Manchester United man cutting inside his marker before bending his shot towards the far post only for Neil Alexander to get a strong left hand up to deny him.

Garner then went from provider to the man on the end of the chance following a lovely turn 35 yards out from Beckford who released last season’s League One top goalscorer down the right.

Garner sped away from the Hearts defence and blazed a shot towards goal which Alexander done well to block with both hands required.

Alexander was again on hand to deny Garner who was picked out by a Gallagher free kick, but the Hearts stopper tipped his latest effort; this one a header, over the crossbar. 

But Alexander was at fault for the opening goal as Garner’s persistence paid off – and at fault in a big way.

The Jambos’ No.1 sliced his clearance dreadfully, the ball flying up into the air for Garner to power a header goalwards; Alexander clawing the ball away before it hit the net, but after it had crossed the line.

Just minutes later it was almost two, John Welsh the unlikely man on the end of a looping cross which he volleyed wide right of the Hearts goal.

Grayson made multiple changes to his team following that chance with Gallagher, Keane, Beckford, Wright and Welsh making way for Alan Browne, Andy Little, Ben Davies, Josh Brownhill and Jordan Hugill.

Those changes were soon followed by the introduction of Jack Ryan and Nick Anderton for Garner and Calum Woods respectively.

Between those changes, the only chance of note fell the way of Brownhill who forced Alexander into a decent save after Little's ball over the top. 

Little was involved again after good link-up play with Browne and Brownhill, the former Rangers man standing a cross up towards the back post which was nodded behind by the scrambling Paterson.

The Northern Irishman was himself almost on the scoresheet as time ran down with a beautifully executed curling effort which drifted just wide of the top right hand corner.

But at full-time it was a job well done for Preston North End.

Preston North End line-up: Jones, Clarke (c), Wright (Browne 68), Keane (Little 68), Beckford (Hugill 68), Johnson, Gallagher (Brownhill 68), Garner (Ryan 77), Woods (Anderton 77), Welsh (Davies 68), Huntington (Heaton 86).

Unused subs: James.

Heart of Midlothian line-up: Alexander, Paterson, McHattie, Augustyn (c), McGhee, McKirdy (Smith 85), King, Pallardo (Anderson 51), Sow (Reilly 59), Walker (El Hassnaoui 82), Nicholson.

Unused subs: Hamilton Ozturk, Bauben, Oliver, Morgaro.

Referee: Mr D Handley

Attendance: 4,860 (1,614 away)

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