Halifax Town 1 PNE 2 full-time

PNE return to pre season action
PNE return to pre season action
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First-half goals from Andy Little and Josh Brownhill gave Preston North End a hard-fought victory over Halifax Town.

Little headed home from close range after Shaymen keeper Matt Glennon had parried a Paul Gallagher shot.

The lead was doubled by Brownhill with his third goal in as many games, the young midfielder sweeping home a tidy finish from the edge of the box.

Halifax reduced the arrears just before the interval, Ross Dyer heading home from close range.

And after mainly being on the back foot in the first 45 minutes, the Conference side had the better of the second half.

But North End, who fielded 22 players over the course of the evening, held out to claim victory from their visit to West Yorkshire

Simon Grayson named a strong starting XI, with Jack King, Neil Kilkenny, Brownhill and Gallagher forming a slick-moving midfield behind strikers Kevin Davies and Little.

North End had some defending to do early in the game, long throw-ins from Halifax centre-half Marc Roberts causing one or two problems.

One was met in the sixth minute by Steve Williams, his header saved comfortably by Thorsten Stuckmann.

But steadily the visitors began to take control of the first half, a powerful 25-yard shot from Kilkenny cannoning off the post..

Little drove a shot high over the bar and Gallagher wasn’t too far off target with a first-time effort from the edge of the box after David Buchanan and Davies had linked-up well to play him in.

The deadlock was broken in the 28th minute, Little netting his second goal in PNE colours since joining on a Bosman from Rangers.

Brownhill was clipped as he chased King’s long ball down the side of the penalty area.

Contact seemed well inside the box but referee Seb Stockbridge, acting on the advice of his assistant, awarded a free-kick just outside.

The free-kick was rolled square by Brownhill into the path of Gallagher who drilled a first-time shot goalwards.

Glennon managed to parry it out, but Little was following-up to loop a header over him into the roof of the net.

Another chance fell Little’s way five minutes later, Gallagher’s floated cross finding him beyond the far post, but the Irishman volleyed over.

The Lilywhites scored their second goal with 37 minutes on the clock, Brownhill on target with his third goal in as many games.

A fine passing move saw Davies feed the ball into Brownhill’s feet just outside the box, the teenager sweeping a fine first-time finish into the bottom corner.

Twice Gallagher then tested Glennon, the keeper saving low down from him at the near post.

Then he did well to get down to palm the midfielder’s deflected daisy-cutter behind for a corner.

Halifax hauled themselves back into the game in the 44th minute, halving the deficit through Dyer.

Another Roberts long throw was cleared out of the box, Scott Boden returning it into the middle for Dyer to head in from close range.

North End made four changes at the interval, Jamie Jones, Will Hayhurst, Alan Browne and Joe Garner joining the action.

In the 55th minute, a low shot from Scott McManus was saved low at his near post by Jones.

Roberts then got on the end of a Matty Pearson free-kick but directed his header well beyond the back stick.

Seven substitutions were made in the 67th minute by North End, producing an entirely different side than that which started.

They were still settling in when Halifax almost grabbed an equaliser, Boden getting in on goal but Jones got down well to save his low shot.

Halifax continued to push to get back on level terms, Roberts’ long throw finding Simon Ainge who headed over.

Late on, Pearson tried his luck with a long range shot after coming inside from the right-wing, it sailing high over Jones’ bar.

A rare second-half PNE chance saw Will Hayhurst get down the left side of the box and pull the ball back into the path of Alan Browne.

But the midfielder’s low shot at the near post was comfortably saved by sub keeper Phil Senior.

It needed a good save from Jones in the 89th minute to keep North End ahead, the keeper diving to his left to parry away Pearson’s low shot on the turn.

Halifax: Glennon (Senior 46), McManus, K Roberts, M Roberts, Williams (Ainge 46), Pearson, Boden, Trialist (Jackson 46), Smith (Bolton 46), Dyer (Marie 46), Marshall, Hibbs.

PNE: Stuckmann (Jones 46), Woods (Humphrey 67), Clarke (Wiseman 67), Wright (B Davies 67), Buchanan (Laird), King (Keane 67), Kilkenny (Welsh 67), Brownhill (Browne 46), Little (Hayhurst 46), Gallagher (Hugill 67), K Davies (Garner 46).

Referee: Seb Stockbridge (Tyne and Wear)

Attendance: 813 (198 PNE)