An early Sean Maguire goal earned Preston North End a 1-0 victory over Stoke City in the opening group game of the Central League Cup.
Maguire was in from the start to step up his recovery from injury and within three minutes was on the scoresheet from the penalty spot.
He was part of a North End side made up of a mixture of first team players and scholars, with Bambo Diaby and Patrick Bauer among those to line up for the home side.
It was a quick start made by North End, as Noah Mawene broke into the area inside two minutes and was forced over by George Lewis, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Maguire stepped up and calmly slotted home from 12 yards.
The Irishman came close with a header which was saved soon after, before Lewis Leigh saw a smart curling effort tipped onto the post by goalkeeper Tommy Simkin.
On 39 minutes, Maguire continued to look sharp, as he cut inside from the left and sent a low, right-footed effort just wide of goal.
After the break it was the visitors who were creating the early opportunities, with Luke Redfern heading wide firstly, before James-Taylor then volleyed wide on 53 minutes.
On the hour mark, substitute Rio Pemberton - who replaced Diaby - sent an inviting cross into the box for Mikey O’Neill and his header was acrobatically saved by Simkin.
The ‘keeper then produced an even better stop to tip Leigh’s 20-yard free-kick onto the bar, and Maguire’s follow-up was then cleared off the line.
Stoke City could, and perhaps should, have found an equaliser on 72 minutes, however Nathaniel Opoku’s volley from eight yards was put wide.
Leigh tested the goalkeeper again before time was up, but Maguire’s early goal was enough for the three points either way.
PNE line-up: Cornell; Diaby (Pemberton, 50), Bauer, Wallbank; Taylor, Amaral (Kamara, 85), Leigh, Mawene, Slater; O’Neill, Maguire (Nelson, 63). Subs not used: Pradic, McGhee.
Stoke City line-up: Simkin; Redfern, Baker, Bradley-Morgan; Duhaney, Lewis (Singh Lohia, 63) Malone, Evans: McGuinness (Opoku, 63), James-Taylor (Holland-Wilkinson, 72) Reddin. Subs not used: Houston, Roney.
Referee: Mr R Aspinall.