A Tom Clarke header maintained Preston North End’s five match unbeaten run as they drew 1-1 with Premier League new boys Leicester City at Deepdale.
Foxes keeper Kasper Schmmeichel missed the ball and Clarke steamed in unmarked at the back post to latch on to another fine Will Hayhurst free-kick and nod the ball home in the 57th minute.
PNE could not make it five wins out of five friendly fixtures but they fought gallantly against higher league opposition to seal a draw.
Liam Moore’s fierce volley gave the visitors the lead in the first-half but North End fought back and will head into next weekend’s League One opener at Deepdale against Notts County with confidence.
The visitors took no time to make an impact. Jamie Vardy stole into the left hand side of the box just 30 seconds in but Australian defender Bailey Wright was on hand to block the chance.
PNE started with a 4-1-4-1 formation with Jack King sat just in front of the back four and Kevin Davies up top as a lone striker.
Left winger Scott Laird advanced forward into the box in the opening stages but former PNE loanee Ritchie De Laet was on hand to stop the danger with a last ditch sliding tackle in the third minute.
And the formation allowed some slick link-up play between the midfield as Welsh and Josh Brownhill combined in the 10th minute.
Once more De Laet recovered and his ditch tackle denied Brownhill the opportunity to tear down on goal.
But it was the Foxes who took the lead thanks to some spectacular acrobatics by former Blackpool player Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
Veteran defender Paul Konchesky’s cross forced Taylor-Fletcher to stretch for the ball on the back line, he managed to pull the ball back into the path of Moore and he smashed a fine volley into the left hand corner of Jamie Jones’ goal. Jones managed to get a fingertip to the ball but he could not stop the fierce strike.
K Davies had a golden opportunity as he gained space in the centre but goal scorer Moore tracked back to block the striker’s long range effort in the 39th minute.
And just before the first half whistle Laird whipped in a fierce cross. The ball evaded K Davies who had made a run to the near post but fell to Brownhill on the edge of the box and his fizzing strike flew inches over the bar.
PNE boss Simon Grayson made changes at the start of the second half. Calum Woods, David Buchanan and Brownhill made way for Hayhurst, Scott Wiseman and Alan Browne.
The Foxes nearly doubled their lead but Wright was on hand to make another block. De Laet’s cross from the right was met by Leonardo Ulloa but his first time shot was stopped by Wright in the 51st minute.
Moments later another former PNE loan player Matty James’ long range effort fizzed inches wide of the right hand corner.
But PNE launched a fight back and Chris Humphrey’s storming run led to the goal.
Humphrey was fouled by Moore and super substitute Hayhurst stepped up to whip across one of his trademark crosses.
Clarke rose highest at the back post and nodded home past Schmeichel in the 57th minute.
Former PNE striker David Nugent came off the bench and was greeted to a rapturous applause by the home faithful in the 62nd minute.
The former North End and England striker linked-up with fellow subsitute Chris Wood in the 71st minute. But Wood headed Nugent’s fine cross off target.
Andy King headed straight at PNE’s substitute keeper Thorsten Stuckmann in the 79th minute.
And Konchesky nearly headed into his own net as he nodded a fierce Hayhurst free-kick wide of goal in the 82nd minute.
PNE: Jones (Stuckmann, 62), Laird (Keane, 62), Clarke (B Davies, 62), Wright, Humphrey (Hugill, 62), K Davies (Little, 62), Woods (Hayhurst, 46), Buchanan (Wiseman, 46),Welsh (c) (Garner, 77) King, Brownhill (Browne, 46) (Byrom, 77).Subs: Hugill,
Leicester: Schmeichel (C) De Laet (McCourt 78), Konchesky, Drinkwater (Hammond, 70), James (Morgan, 70) Vardy (Mahrez, 35) Moore (Kennedy, 70) Taylor-Fletcher (Wood, 62) Ulloa (Nugent, 62) Knockaert (King, 70), Wasilewski (Albrighton, 70). Subs not used: Logan
Referee: Darren Handley (Bolton)
Attendance: 3,693 (386 Leicester)