Match report: Stockport 1 PNE 2

PNE boss Alex Neil
PNE boss Alex Neil
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Goals from Callum Robinson and Tom Barkhuizen gave Preston North End victory over Stockport County in their friendly clash at Edgeley Park.

Alex Neil's men had to come from behind to claim the win, Jason Oswell having given County the lead in the 27th minute.

North End hit back with two goals in six minutes, Robinson turning home a Barkhuizen cross, before the pair reversed roles for Barkhuizen to score what proved to be the winner.

It was Neil's first game on the touchline after he watched last week's win at Bamber Bridge from the stand, and he was joined in the dugout by coach Frankie McAvoy who was previously on the backroom staff at Norwich and Hamilton with Neil.

AS IT HAPPENED: Alex Neil's first game in charge

REACTION: Game of contrasting halves for PNE boss

The visitors fielded a 4-2-3-1, the attack spearheaded by Stevie May with Robinson in the No.10 role, Barkhuizen and Ben Pringle out wide.

The home side had the game's first chance after Oswell was tripped just outside the left corner of the box, Jimmy Ball's free-kick staying low but going straight at Chris Maxwell.

Robinson saw a rising shot tipped over by County goalkeeper Ben Hinchcliffe, a player who started his career with Preston, then Daniel Johnson curled a shot from 20 yards wide of the target.

Good play down the PNE right saw Liam Grimshaw play Barkhuizen into space on the overlap, Barkhuizen's low cross falling to May whose shot on the turn was blocked by a defender.

The loose ball fell to Robinson who fired a low shot narrowly past the far post.

Stockport took a 27th minute lead, former Chorley striker Darren Stephenson breaking into the box and going to ground under Paul Huntington's challenge.

As all eyes turned to the referee expecting a penalty to be awarded, Oswell slammed a fine finish past Maxwell from 15 yards.

It could easily have been 2-0 in the 33rd minute, Maxwell having got down to parry a low cross from Ball.

Oswell was first to the loose ball in the six-yard box, his shot well blocked by Huntington.

North End broke up field from that let-off and were rewarded with an equaliser.

Pringle's fine cross field pass from left to right found Barkhuizen, his low cross picking-put Robinson who slotted home from close range.

Robinson went close with a low drive which Hinchliffe dived to get enough on to take it past the far post.

Five minutes before the interval, Preston nosed in front, Robinson's clever pass opening-up the Stockport defence which allowed Barkhuizen to get clear and lift a confident finish over Hinchliffe into the roof of the net.

At the other end, a curling shot from Oswell beat Maxwell but travelled just wide of the post.

Half-time saw 10 outfield changes by North End, Maxwell retaining his place between the posts in the absence of the injured Declan Rudd.

Early in the second half, a misplaced free-kick from Paul Gallagher was intercepted by Stephenson who bore down on the North End and shot just wide of Maxwell's goal.

With 56 minutes on the clock, PNE carved-out a decent opening, Daryl Horgan's cross from the left headed on to the top of the net by Jordan Hugill.

North End's play was more ragged in the second half, not having the crispness it did in parts in the first.

That said, a succession of Stockport substitutions slowed the flow of the play.

In the 80th minute, Alan Browne tried his luck with a daisy-cutter from 25 yards which travelled well wide of the target.

Four minutes later Eoin Doyle's pass found Marnick Vermijl in space down the right-wing, the Belgian's cut-back picking out Horgan in the box.

Horgan almost had too much time on his hands as he controlled the ball before lifting a right-foot shot high over the bar.

As the clock ticked into the final minute, Melle Meulsteen's pass found Browne down the right hand side of the box.

The midfielder's first shot was parried by sub keeper Ian Ormson, the second he swung at and put wide.

Stockport: Hinchliffe (Ormson 46), Cowan, Clark, Smalley, Hampson (Duxbury 46), Ball (Etches 79), Walker, Winter, (Miniham 46) Warburton (West 79), Oswell (Brazel 72), Stephenson (Thomas 66).

PNE (first half): Maxwell, Grimshaw, Huntington, Spurr, Earl, Pearson, Johnson, Barkhuizen, Robinson, Pringle, May.

PNE (second half): Maxwell, Vermijl, Boyle, Davies, Cunningham, Gallagher, Browne, Meulensteen, Doyle, Horgan, Hugill.

Referee: Joe Hull (Cheshire)

Attendance: 1,470 (406 PNE)

AS IT HAPPENED: Alex Neil's first game in charge

REACTION: Game of contrasting halves for PNE boss