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Match Reports

Preston North End 2 West Ham United 2

21 July 2018

The Lilywhites twice came from behind to draw with Premier League opposition in a thoroughly entertaining pre-season game at Deepdale.

Tom Clarke, with a powerful header, and a stunning strike from Billy Bodin levelled matters after two quality finishes from West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic.

Manuel Pellegrini's Hammers were always going to be much more of a test than the three previous preparatory games, but the confidence of scoring 18 goals in those games was certainly reflected in the performance of the side selected for the first run out in PR1 this campaign.

However, it was the top flight side who took an early lead. A quick free-kick from perhaps the best free transfer of the summer, Jack Wilshere, was played over the North End backline, finding the Austrian international Arnautovic 15 yards out, he took a touch and sent Chris Maxwell the wrong way, before stroking the ball into the bottom right hand corner.

The Lilywhites reacted well to going behind for the first time this pre-season, however, and Louis Moult went close to levelling matters a quarter of an hour in, when Alan Browne swung over a cross from the right to find the No.9 on the penalty spot, but he couldn't keep his powerful header down and it was just over Adrian's bar.

Ben Pearson was forced off midway through the opening period, with Ryan Ledson replacing the No.4, but North End continued to be on the front foot and they were deservedly level after 40 minutes.

Darnell Fisher had been fouled 40 yards out in a right-hand channel and Paul Gallagher put over a deep cross into the box. Clarke rose highest above Issa Diop to head powerfully past the visitors' Andalusian keeper and into the top left-hand corner of the Bill Shankly Kop end's goal.

But United were back in front on the stroke of half-time and it was Arnautovic again. This time, multi-million pound summer recruit from Borussia Dortmund, Andriy Yarmolenko collected the ball on the right hand side of the box, squared it to the No.7 with his back to goal and in one movement he spun and shot a superb curling effort into the bottom right hand corner from 15 yards, giving Chris Maxwell no chance.

Wilshere was replaced at the break and after the interval it was the PNE midfield who dominated the middle of the park, which meant the ball was being won high up the pitch, creating plenty of scoring opportunities.

Five minutes into the second period Browne rose with Declan Rice to meet Gallagher's left footed cross from the left-hand side. The Irishman headed against the defender that took it narrowly wide, but a corner was not given - one of a number of interesting decisions from the assistant in the North End attacking section during the latter half.

Twice before the hour mark the home side felt disappointed not to be level. Firstly Tom Barkhuizen collected a long ball forward, turned inside Rice 20 yards out and curled an effort that Adrian palmed around the post for a corner.

Then shortly after there was a brilliant save from the Hammers' stopper from Browne on the half volley from 20 yards out after superb work and lay off from Moult on the edge of the box.

On the stroke of 60 minutes a corner was recycled by the Lilywhites and after a deep ball Browne put it back in the mixer, before it was cleared out to Daryl Horgan, who with a quick cross found Moult, who fired goalwards and Adrian tipped the ball over, only for a corner again not to be given.

Shortly after, the visitors had a chance to extend their lead after Josh Earl was adjudged to have brought down Ryan Fredericks in the penalty area; referee Ben Toner pointing straight to the spot. The West Ham skipper Mark Noble stepped up, but Maxwell guessed the right way, going low to his left to brilliantly keep the ball out and then dive on the ricocheting ball.

With 18 minutes to go, PNE thought it wasn't to be their afternoon as Clarke had the ball in net once again, coolly converting substitute Billy Bodin's cross from the right, but the flag went up for offside; video showing he was three yards onside when the ball was played!

However, they were level with 14 minutes to go and what a strike it was too! Andrew Hughes had come on for his Deepdale-debut and hit a superb 60-yard diagonal from left to right, and Bodin took the ball into his stride with a fantastic first touch, before sending the defender a dummy and firing with the outside of his right foot into the bottom right hand corner from 12 yards - it was a great piece of play that brought the crowd off their feet and was the very minimum of what the team deserved for their performance.

And they had chances to win it as well. With seven minutes to go, another substitute Sean Maguire took a brilliant touch on the right, drove in, saw his cross blocked, it came back to Bodin, who again saw a driven ball blocked, but it was good pressure by PNE.

The visitors, with their quality, were still dangerous and a Robert Snodgrass cross and a Toni Martinez header three minutes from time brought the best from Maxwell, as he tipped the ball onto and over the bar.

But the best and last chance to win the game came in the 89th minute as Bodin shot across goal after a good bit of control from Ledson's through ball, but the effort driven just wide of the left hand upright, when if it had been six inches to the right it would have been another stunner, but it was not to be and both sides ended up with a share of the spoils after a really entertaining afternoon.

PNE line-up: Maxwell, Fisher, Earl (Hughes, 65), Pearson (Ledson, 20), Clarke (c), Davies, Horgan, Gallagher (Harrop, 77), Moult (Maguire, 77), Browne, Barkhuizen (Bodin, 66). Subs not used: Rudd, Robinson, Johnson, Storey, Woods, Burke, Huntington.

West Ham United line-up: Adrian, Diop (Ogbonna, 79), Arnautovic (Martinez, 75) Snodgrass, Obiang, Fredericks, Noble (c), Wilshere (Saksumanovic, 46), Yarmolenko (Holland, 65), Masuaku (Zabaleta, 79), Rice. Subs not used: Trott, Cullen, Samuelsen, Coventry.

Attendance: 5,960 (940 West Ham United fans)

Referee: Mr B Toner


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