Result: Southport 0-4 Preston
Goals from Jordan Hugill, Andy Little, Will Keane and Josh Brownhill gave Preston comfortable victory at Southport in their latest pre-season outing.
Hugill headed the Lilywhites in front two minutes before half-time, with Little on target with a header in the 57th minute.
Substitute Keane struck his first goal in Preston colours 10 minutes from time, with Josh Brownhill completing the scoring with the last kick of the game.
It was a third friendly win for Simon Grayson’s men and they have yet to concede a goal in pre-season.
Grayson gave the night off to Joe Garner, Paul Gallagher and Jermaine Beckford, as he made a number of changes to the side which beat Hearts at the weekend.
Ben Davies, Neil Kilkenny, Alan Browne, Little, Kyel Reid, Brownhill and Hugill all came into the starting XI.
Jamie Jones, Bailey Wright, Calum Woods and Paul Huntington were the four players to start both Saturday’s game and last night.
The Southport squad contained 10 trialists, with three of them included in the starting line-up.
They were skippered by former PNE centre-back Luke Foster, with summer signings Andy Wright and Jamie Allen starting.
North End lined up in a 4-2-3-1 system, Browne and Kilkenny in deeper midfield roles.
Further forward were Little, Brownhill and Reid, with Hugill playing a lone central striking role.
It was a slow-burner in terms of goalmouth action, there being little to trouble either goalkeeper.
Little jinked his way to the byline on the right hand side of the box but saw his cross charged down and put out for a corner.
A 25-yard shot from Kilkenny travelled over the bar as the Lilywhites started to mount some pressure.
Brownhill, seeing plenty of the ball in his attacking midfield role, should have broken the deadlock in the 25th minute.
He showed some nice footwork to turn sharply in the box and get himself in a shooting position but scuffed his low effort straight at keeper Andy Coughlin.
At the other end, Allen let fly with a right-foot shot from outside the box and saw the effort travel just beyond the far post.
With the game opening up, Ben Davies’ centre found Hugill at the back post but he could not make a proper connection and his header dropped wide.
North End made the breakthrough in the 43rd minute, some neat link-up play between Browne, Brownhill and Woods opening up the left side of the Sandgrounders defence.
Browne swept a pass out to the wing which was collected by Woods, the right-back exchanging passes with Brownhill before surging into the box.
He lifted a cross into the middle where Hugill guided a header into the roof of the net from six yards.
It needed a good save from Jones to keep the lead in tact on the stroke of half-time, the keeper pushing a fierce shot from Andrai Jones behind at the near post.
There were four changes to the PNE side at the interval, Steve James, Tom Clarke, Will Keane and second-year trainee Clive Smith replacing Jones, Woods, Huntington and Kilkenny.
Keane slotted into the hole behind Hugill, with Brownhill dropping back to partner Browne in the centre of midfield.
Early second-half chances came at both ends, an off-balance Reid slicing an effort well wide.
Jones lifted a shot from outside the box too high, substitute keeper James watching it go over without much of a scare.
Reid and Little swapped wings for the second period, it being Reid’s cross from the right which found its way to Little at the back post in the 50th minute, the former Rangers man heading it wide.
Little was on target seven minutes later though, executing a fine header to double PNE’s advantage.
Play was switched across the pitch from left to right, Brownhill putting a fine cross into the box which Little steered across Coughlin.
The hour mark saw a swarm of substitutions, Southport changing nine of their side and Preston five.
On came John Welsh, Daniel Johnson, Josh Heaton, Nick Anderton and Jack Ryan, that leaving Browne and Brownhill as the only two starters left on the pitch.
In the 65th minute, Keane dropped deep to get possession and ran at the Port defence before sliding a pass through to play in Brownhill.
As the keeper rushed off his line to cover, the young midfielder lifted a left-foot shot inches over the bar.
Keane was then not far off target with a daisy-cutter from the edge of the box, while a low drove from Anderton forced a diving save from Coughlin.
A low shot from Port substitute Charlie Joyce was saved low down by James as the hosts had a decent spell of pressure.
With 10 minutes remaining, North End scored their third goal of the evening, it being Keane’s first in the club’s colours.
He collected Ryan’s pass, steadied himself before hitting a low shot past the keeper which went in despite the best attempts of a defender to clear off the line – the assistant on the main stand side flagging to confirm it had gone in.
Brownhill found the net with a low shot from just inside the box, that literally the last kick of the game – referee Peter Wright blowing the final whistle before the game could re-start.
Southport: Coughlin, Challoner, Foster, Trialist, Beesley, Allen, Jones, Wright, Trialist, Almond, Trialist. Subs: Brodie, Trialist, Joyce, McCarthy, Rutherford, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist.
PNE: Jones (James 46), Woods (Smith 46), Huntington (Clarke 46), Wright Heaton 60), Davies (Anderton 60), Browne, Kilkenny (Keane 46), Brownhill, Little (Welsh 60), Reid (Johnson 60), Hugill (Ryan 60).
Referee: Peter Wright (Merseyside)
Report courtesy of Dave Seddon (lep)
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