Preston North End completed their pre-season preparations as they came from behind to record a 2-1 win against Newcastle United in monsoon conditions at Deepdale.
Rain fell heavily all game, making it a difficult afternoon, despite the pristine playing surface, but the accuracy from the penalty spot of Paul Gallagher lit up PR1 with a positive performance from the home side.
A Jonjo Shelvey free kick had given the visitors a half-time lead, but two second half penalties from North End’s No.12 gave them the win, thanks also to Declan Rudd, who saved a penalty at the other end from Migi Almiron.
Steve Bruce fielded almost a different team in either half, with nine interval changes, whilst the majority of the Lilywhites completed 90 minutes in their preparations for the Championship opener against Millwall.
After a cagey first 25 minutes, when both sides had good spells of possession without causing too many problems, the first involvement of either keeper saw a great save from Rudd, to deny Shelvey from edge of the box, after a pull back from Isaac Hayden; the North End No.1 also doing well to deny Hayden from the resulting corner.
Just after the half hour mark the home side went very close to opening the scoring when skipper Tom Clarke had a volley deflected off Matt Ritchie and behind for a corner after a Sean Maguire knock down from Paul Gallagher’s free kick on the right.
And from another Gallagher set piece, this time a corner left, the ball in caused all sorts of problems in the Magpies box, Maguire’s volley deflecting, but not falling to PNE feet in a good shooting position.
However, the Magpies took the lead six minutes before the interval. It was Shelvey who scored it with a vicious free kick from 30 yards out, beating Rudd, after Fabian Schӓr had run from his own box and been brought down by Alan Browne.
The first 15 minutes of the second half was a tale of two penalties. Thirty seconds into the half Newcastle’s record £40m signing, Brazilian Joelinton, won a penalty, referee Michael Salisbury pointing to the spot after the striker went down without much connection from a defender.
But there was a twist to the tale as a great save from Rudd denied former Atlanta United man Migi Almiron – diving with two hands away to his right to palm the ball away.
Alex Neil’s men looked sharp as the second period really got going. A brilliant one-touch move with Ben Pearson and Gallagher combining to set up Alan Browne for a first-time curling effort from 25 yards that Freddie Woodman did well to get down and save low to his left.
On the hour mark the scores were level. Some excellent recycling of the ball from an initial attack saw Clarke get space to deliver a cross on the right, but the ball struck Jamie Sterry on his out-stretched arms and again Salisbury had no hesitation in pointing straight to the spot.
Gallagher stepped up, beginning - as always – with his back to goal, before turning and firing a bullet of an effort into the bottom left hand corner, so that despite Woodman going the right way, he had no chance of keeping the ball out.
And the run of spot kicks continued! This time, with 19 minutes to go a Gallagher corner was recycled back out to Barkhuizen, whose deep cross was headed back into the box by Clarke, with Joelinton bringing down Bauer on the penalty spot and the match official again whistled immediately for the penalty.
Once again Gallagher went with his now well-rehearsed routine, but chose to viciously fire the ball into the complete opposite corner, the top right, with Woodman once again having no chance of preventing PNE taking the lead.
The north east side almost levelled matters less than five minutes later, but it would have been in controversial circumstances. A drop ball was uncontested, but former Blackpool man Sean Longstaff chose to send the ball through for Jack Colback, who ran in on goal, but was denied by an excellent stop from Rudd.
There could and perhaps should have been a third goal with the last touch of the game as Barkhuizen broke down the left and pulled the ball back for Browne, whose shot was well blocked by Ciaran Clark. The ricochet fell to Brad Potts, playing against his boyhood club for the first time, but – on the stretch – he couldn’t keep his volley down and it flew over the bar as the final whistle went.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Clarke (c), Hughes, Pearson, Bauer, Davies, Barkhuizen, Gallagher, Maguire, Browne, Potts. Subs not used: Crowe, Moult, Rafferty, Simpson, O’Reilly, Walker.
Newcastle United line-up: Woodman, Dummett (Clark, 46), Schӓr (Ki, 46), Shelvey (c) (Lascelles, 46), Ritchie (J Murphy, 46), Muto (Joelinton, 46), Hayden (Colback, 46), Aarons (Almiron, 46), Fernandez, Manquillo (Sterry, 46), M Longstaff (S Longstaff, 46). Subs not used: Darlow, Cass, Sorensen, Watts, Allan.
Referee: Mr M Salisbury
Attendance: 4,982 (1,359 Newcastle United fans)