PNE 1 Liverpool 2 full-time

Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson
Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson
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Preston North End put in a strong display in their pre-season clash with Liverpool at Deepdale but were beaten by two late Reds goals.

The lively Josh Brownhill gave PNE a deserved lead on the stroke of half-time, forcing the ball over the line after a Joe Garner scissor kick had been blocked.

It was an advantage they held until the final 16 minutes, with goals in quick succession from substitutes Suso and Kristophe Peterson turning the contest in favour of the Premier League outfit.

But the scoreline should not mask a promising performance from North End who used 24 players over the course of the afternoon.

In the first half they were the better side, limiting Liverpool to very little while creating four or five good scoring opportunities themselves.

Brownhill and fellow Alan Browne buzzed with energy, the other member of the midfield trio - Neil Kilkenny - assured on the ball in a 4-2-3-1 system and the starting point of many of their attacks.

On the wing, Will Hayhurst showed promise, offering a decent supply line to Joe Garner who played through the middle on his own.

Garner, Brownhill and Kilkenny had all tested Liverpool keeper Brad Jones before the opening goal arrived.

In the second half, Preston were not quite as fluid, it being the visitors who got on the front foot.

Their equaliser was probably deserved, however to go on and hit a winner perhaps did not paint a true picture of the contest.

It was all played out in front of a crowd of 17,488, swelled by an official following of 4,660 from Liverpool in the Bill Shankly Kop.

There were many more with Scouse leanings in the home sections too, evident when the two visitors’ goals went in.

North End were lively from the off, Garner forcing Brad Jones into a diving save with a seventh-minute shot from the edge of the box.

Kilkenny’s 20-yard shot clipped off Andre Wisdom’s back and flew inches over the bar, although referee Jez Simpson did not spot the deflection and awarded a goalkick.

With 18 minutes on the clock, a swerving shot from Brownhill was gloved behind by Jones.

Paul Gallagher swung over the resulting corner which travelled across the six-yard and found Browne at the back stick.

But the Irish teenager - a lifelong Reds supporter - misjudged his header and it fell the wrong side of the post with the goal gaping.

Liverpool midfielder Emre Can lasted 20 minutes of his debut before hobbling off to be replaced by Jordan Ibe.

The visitors looked lacklustre going forward, chances in the first half few and far between.

Skipper Martin Skrtel got on the end of a corner but his header was cleared out of the six-yard box by David Buchanan.

Rickie Lambert, making his Reds bow after a £4m move from Southampton, tried his luck with a first-time shot from the right side of the box which travelled straight into the gloves of Jamie Jones.

Back at the other end, Brownhill threaded a pass through to Garner in space 20 yards out, the striker’s shot beaten out by the keeper.

Substitute Ibe, who as the game wore off proved a big threat, blazed over the bar after finding room in the North End box, his first touch having taken him away from a better shooting position.

PNE took the lead moments into first-half stoppage time.

Hayhurst’s corner from the right caused problems for the Reds defence, it eventually falling to Garner who tried to luck with a scissor kick.

Jones did well to block it but the rebound was forced over the line by Brownhill from close range.

Lilywhites boss Simon Grayson changed the entire XI at the interval, employing a 4-5-1 system with Chris Humphrey and Andy Little on the wings and Kevin Davies a lone striker.

It was Liverpool who did more of the second-half attacking, especially after a glut of substitutions just after the hour mark.

Two goals in the space of three minutes swung the contest the way of the Premier League side.

In the 74th minute, Ibe’s pass fed Suso who curled a beauty of a finish into the far corner beyond the reach of Thorsten Stuckmann.

Ibe was the creator of the second goal too, getting down the left side of the box and playing in Peterson whose shot took a big deflection to wrong-foot Stuckmann and carry it into the net.

Grayson responded with two more substitutions, Jordan Hugill replacing Davies up top and Joel Byrom came on for Paul Huntington who had suffered a fractured wrist early in the second half, Jack King vacating his midfield role to move into Huntington’s place in the centre of defence.

Byrom’s introduction narrowed the gap between the midfield and attacking lines which had stunted North End’s attacking prowess in the second period.

However, the home side could not carve out an equaliser and it was Liverpool who returned down the A59 with victory for the second summer running, albeit having been run a great deal closer this time.

PNE: (first-half) Jones, Woods, Clarke, Wright, Buchanan, Kilkenny, Browne, Gallagher, Brownhill, Hayhurst, Garner.

PNE: (second-half) Stuckmann, Wiseman, Huntington (Byrom 78), B Davies, Laird, Humphrey, Welsh, King, Keane, Little, K Davies (Hugill 78). Subs not used: James, Anderton.

Liverpool: B Jones, Kelly, (Robinson 46, Enrique 70), Skrtel (Coates 63), Wisdom (Adjorjan 63, Philips 83) Flanagan (L Jones 63), Can (Ibe 21) Lucas (Coady 63), Allen (Peterson 63), Coutinho (Stewart 63), Borini (Rossiter 63), Lambert (Suso 46). Subs not used: Smith, Ward.

Referee: Jez Simpson (Carnforth)

Attendance: 17,488 (4,660 away)