Preston North End got their 2021/22 pre-season campaign underway with a 8-3 victory against Bamber Bridge.
Unfortunately, this fixture was unable to be played at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium in front of spectators as initially planned due to standing water on the pitch, despite the best efforts of ground staff and volunteers.
The teams instead faced off at PNE’s Euxton training ground and the Lilywhites got off to a great start, going into half-time with the score at 4-1 thanks to goals from Lewis Leigh, Brad Potts, Tom Barkhuizen and Noah Mawene.
Josh Harrop, Emil Riis and a double from Sean Maguire added to the scoreline in the second half to cap off a positive start to pre-season.
PNE played two different teams in the first and second half, with Declan Rudd, Joe Rafferty and Patrick Bauer making their returns from injury in the opening 45, while teenagers Leigh and Joe Rodwell-Grant also started the game.
The Lilywhites weren’t made to wait too long for the lead as second-year scholar Leigh calmly slotted home on 16 minutes after being found in space by Scott Sinclair.
Brad Potts then came close twice in quick succession for the Lilywhites, firstly curling the ball with the outside of his right foot towards the bottom corner, only for the goalkeeper to tip it round the post, while it was defender Macauley Wilson a couple of minutes later who cleared another of his efforts off the goal-line.
Potts did get himself on the scoresheet soon after as he took the ball in well from Mawene, who showed great feet to beat the defender, and Pottsy fired past the goalkeeper with his left foot.
Mawene was involved again just a minute later as North End got a third, with the 16-year-old being slotted into the box by captain Ryan Ledson, and he found Barkhuizen on the edge of the area to curl the ball into the bottom right corner.
To top off a brilliant cameo appearance for the first-year scholar, Mawene got himself on the scoresheet on 39 minutes, as he diverted Josh Earl’s header past the goalkeeper.
Bamber Bridge got one back just before the break as Jamie Thomas beautifully curled the ball out of Rudd’s reach into the top right-hand corner.
North End came out with a completely different XI in the second half, with first-year scholar Josh Seary among those involved.
Also back in a PNE shirt was Josh Harrop after a loan spell at Ipswich Town last season and it took him just eight minutes to get on the scoresheet, curling the ball in from a 20-yard free-kick.
Mathew Hudson did well to keep out an effort from Matthew Thomson, while a Bamber Bridge defender frustrated Sean Maguire on the goal-line at the other end, but Seani got his goal less than 60 seconds later, with his deflected effort from 20 yards wrong footing the ‘keeper.
Thomas was on target again for the visitors a few minutes on as he hit another wonderful strike, this time from 30 yards, with the ball bouncing just in front of Hudson on its way into the net.
North End had a couple of chances to extend their lead again, with Emil Riis and Adam O’Reilly both denied from close range by goalkeeper Danny Roccia, before Maguire got his second by chipping the ball over Roccia one-on-one.
The scoring wasn’t quite finished there, with Mark Yeates’ free-kick finding the back of the net via the crossbar, and Emil Riis found time with the last kick of the game to make it 8-3, keeping calm after taking on the goalkeeper to slot home.
First half XI: Rudd, van den Berg, Bauer, Earl, Rafferty, Barkhuizen, Ledson, Leigh, Potts, Sinclair, Rodwell-Grant (Mawene, 28).
Second half XI: Hudson, Seary (Coulton, 76), Storey, Lindsay, Cunningham, Whiteman, Bayliss, O’Reilly, Harrop, Maguire, Riis.