Bamber Bridge 0 PNE 7

Preston North End started life under Alex Neil with a seven-goal victory over Bamber Bridge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

Friday, 7th July 2017, 9:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:42 am
Alex Neil at Bamber Bridge

The Lilywhites played like a side attempting to catch the eye of their new manager, putting in a performance of attacking intent in their opening pre-season friendly.

Neil, appointed on Tuesday, watched from the main stand, with Steve Thompson and Alan Kelly directing operations on the touchline.

North End fielded two different sides, with three goals scored in the first half and four after the break.

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Daniel Johnson in action for PNE at Bamber Bridge

Ben Davies, Stevie May and Callum Robinson netted before the interval, with Tom Barkhuizen, Jordan Hugill (2) and first-year professional Melle Meulensteen on target in the second period.

North End started in a 4-4-2 formation, first-year pro Josh Earl at left-back, with Ben Davies - back from half-a-season on loan at Fleetwood - partnering Andy Boyle in the centre of defence.

Liam Grimshaw, who spent the second-half of last term out on loan at Chesterfield, was at right-back.

Brig had the first chance of the game, Brad Carsley's powerful shot from the left-hand side of the box tipped around the far post by the diving Declan Rudd.

Steve Thompson

That was one of the keeper's final acts of the game with him tweaking a thigh muscle in the 14th minute and having to limp off, Callum Roberts replacing him.

Davies connected with an inswinging free-kick from Paul Gallagher but could only steer a header just beyond the far post.

North End, wearing last season's navy blue and white change strip, took the lead in the 16th minute - Robinson's corner from the right met by Davies whose header was sliced into his own net by Danny Forbes.

Davies' header was on target but it probably needed Forbes' unfortunate intervention to take it past the keeper.

Daniel Johnson in action for PNE at Bamber Bridge

Regan Linney had two chances inside a couple of minutes for the home side in a good spell of pressure, both of them drilled across goal and wide.

A good chance was wasted by North End as the half-hour mark approached, Robinson slipping a fine pass through to May in the box who had only the keeper to beat.

The Scottish striker rolled a low shot past Lloyd Rigby but saw it go agonisingly the wrong side of the far post.

May made up for that missed chance when he doubled PNE's lead in the 35th minute.

Steve Thompson

Robinson picked him out with a pass in the box and he dispatched a low finish past Rigby into the bottom corner of the net.

Eoin Doyle headed narrowly wide after Horgan's hanging cross had picked him out, while shots from Robinson and Daniel Johnson both cleared the clubhouse roof - their shooting still showing signs of summer rust.

North End's third goal came three minutes before the interval.

Gallagher sent over a cross from the right-wing, Robinson timing his run into the box well to loop a header over the keeper.

It was all change at half-time, as a different XI took to the pitch skippered by Greg Cunningham.

Within 11 minutes of the re-start, North End hit a fourth goal.

Marnick Vermijl was the creator-in-chief with some nice play down the right-wing, beating two men and sending a cross into the box.

Hugill rose to meet it, heading it down into the path of Barkhuizen who took a touch before turning the ball home from close range.

Brig's defence looked for an offside flag but the assistant on the main stand side signalled for a goal.

The fifth goal came in the 63rd minute and owed much to Hugill's persistence.

Played through by Barkhuizen's pass, Hugill got into the box and overan the ball as he tried to take it around the keeper.

But he chased it across the box, whipped it off the toes of a defender, turned inside and tucked a low finish between Rigby and the post.

In the 75th minute, Hugill tested the Brig keeper with a low shot from the edge of the box, one Rigby got down to well to save.

Cunningham tried his luck with a 20-yard shot after Alan Browne had found him with a pass, Rigby parrying it before holding the ball at the second attempt as Hugill sniffed after the rebound.

Preston made it 6-0 in the 80th minute, Barkhuizen's pass finding Hugill who squared the ball inside for Meulensteen to calmly slot home.

Within 90 seconds they had their seventh, Hugill getting possession to the left of goal on the the edge of the box and picking his spot with a sweet curling finish into the far corner.

Bamber Bridge: Rigby, Kay, Dodd, Lawler, Doughty, Potts, Linney, Forbes, Carsley, Milligan, Marlow. Subs: Riley, Staunton-Turner, Gregory, Ekpolo, Mahoney, Jones, Wiles.

PNE (first half): Rudd (Roberts 14), Grimshaw, Boyle, Davies, Earl, Robinson, Gallagher, Johnson, Horgan, Doyle, May.

PNE (second half): Maxwell, Vermijl, Huntington, Spurr, Cunningham, Meulensteen, Pearson, Browne, Pringle, Hugill, Barkhuizen.

Referee: David McNamara (Preston)

Attendance: 2,186