Match report: Motherwell 1 PNE 2

Motherwell v PNE
Motherwell v PNE
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Preston North End continued their good pre-season form with a victory over Scottish Premiership side Motherwell at Livingston.

Two goals in quick succession from Joe Garner and Neil Kilkenny made it four wins on the bounce for Simon Grayson’s men as they prepare for life back in the Championship.

Joe Garner is congratulated by Jermaine Beckford after scoring against Motherwell

Joe Garner is congratulated by Jermaine Beckford after scoring against Motherwell

Garner struck in the 28th minute, with midfielder Kilkenny finding the top corner with a powerful shot two minutes later.

Steelmen substitute Louis Moult halved the deficit in the last minute, getting clear of the PNE defence to shoot past Jamie Jones.

It was harsh on Jones to concede, the Preston goalkeeper having made four good saves in the game.

That late goal was the first let in by the visitors in their five pre-season matches.

Grayson fielded a strong North End starting XI, probably not a million miles away from the one which will start the season.

Tom Clarke and Calum Woods adopted full-back duties, flanking Bailey Wright and Paul Huntington in the middle.

Paul Gallagher, Kilkenny and Daniel Johnson formed a midfield three, with Will Keane, Jermaine Beckford and Garner interchanging along the forward line.

There was not the biggest of crowds to provide an atmosphere - just 483 - Motherwell having to borrow Almondvale from Livingston for the night as their Fir Park pitch is not ready for use after summer renovation work.

Motherwell were quite lively early on, Marvin Johnson digging the ball out from his feet and curling a shot wide of the far post.

The same player threatened again, running from his own half after Gallagher had been dispossessed.

As Johnson reached the edge of the box, he hit a shot which flew straight into Jamie Jones’ gloves.

North End’s first sight of goal was a Daniel Johnson effort from 20 yrads which went too high.

A timely interception from Wright deflected a shot from Well’s Johnson behind for a corner.

Steadily, Preston began to impose themselves on the game, Clarke seeing a header hit team-mate Beckford in the box.

Beckford had the ball in the net with a neat chipped finish but the flag was up for offisde against the striker.

Wright nodded into keeper Dan Twardzik’s gloves after Clarke had met a Gallagher corner beyond the back post and headed it back into the mix.

The Lilywhites took the game by the scruff of the neck by scoring twice inside two minutes as the half-hour mark approached.

Gallagher swung a cross from the right hand channel into the box, Garner getting in front of his marker to steer a header across the keeper and down into the far side of the net.

The celebrations among the hardy souls from Preston who made the trip had hardly died down when the advantage was doubled.

It was done in some style too, Kilkenny exchanging passes with Woods before rifling a right-foot shot from 20 yards into the top corner.

Motherwell were not far away from cutting the deficit in the 36th minute, Joe Chalmers’ low shot on course for the bottom corner until Jones dived to get his glove to the ball and palm it past the post.

In the early stages of the second half, Chalmers fired a shot over Jones’ bar after the PNE defence had partly cleared a corner.

Garner had a chance to add to his first-half goal when Gallagher launched a long ball forward which Beckford won in the air.

He cushioned a header down into the path of Garner, last season’s top scorer miscuing his first-time shot and seeing it drift wide.

Keane sent a header too high after jumping to meet Clarke’s centre from the right-wing.

In the 56th minute, Jones got a strong hand to a powerful rising shot from Johnson, the keeper turning it over the bar.

He was in action again soon after, pushing a close-range effort from Scott McDonald against the post.

PNE left-back Woods limped off just before the hour, having pulled up as he tried to keep the ball in play by the touchline.

Beckford should have found the net when Garner’s searching cross found him unmarked in the six-yard box.

With the Well defence appealing for offside, Beckford put his shot too close to Twardzik, allowing the keeper to push it behind.

Clarke met the resulting corner from Gallagher with a powerful header but Twardzik saved.

Jones’ impressive performance continued in the 68th minute, getting fingertips to a swerving shot from substitute Lionel Ainsworth which was destined for the top corner.

A triple North End substitution in the 73rd minute saw Andy Little, Kyel Reid and John Welsh replace Garner, Beckford and Kilkenny.

Motherwell cut the arrears with 89 minutes on the clock, Moult - a summer signing from Wrexham -running clear and driving a shot past Jones.

Motherwell: Twardzik, Law, Hammell, McMannus (Watt 64), Lang, Pearson, Johnson (Ainsworth 67), Chalmers (Moore 79), Lasley (Clarkson 73), Fletcher (Moult 73), McDonald (Leitch 62).

PNE: Jones, Clarke, Huntington, Wright, Woods (Davies 59), Kilkenny (Welsh 72), Johnson (Browne 79), Gallagher (Brownhill 79), Beckford (Reid 72), Garner (Little 72), Keane (Hugill 83). Unused sub: James.

Referee: John Beaton

Attendance: 483