Super-sub Keith Keane popped up with a spectacular strike to seal Preston North End’s 2-1 victory over Morecambe at the Globe Arena.
Keane sublimely chipped former North End stopper Andeas Arestidou as the visitors recorded their third friendly victory in four days.
Keane, who is one of five current PNE players who were cleared of spot-fixing allegations this morning, celebrated his innocence in style with a show stopping strike.
The midfielder advanced down the left wing before lofting the ball over Arestidou from just inside the box in the 82nd minute.
PNE took the lead in the first half against the run of play, last season’s top scorer Joe Garner latched on to another fine cross from young winger Will Hayhurst.
But Morecambe pulled a goal back in the second half as substitute keeper Thorsten Stuckmann was caught off guard by Ryan Williams’ 30-yard free-kick.
PNE boss Simon Grayson shifted the shape of his PNE starting XI. The gaffer switched from Wednesday nights diamond formation to a traditional four-four-two set-up.
Utility man Jack King moved from midfield back into defence as Andy Little and Garner led the line.
But it was League Two side Morecambe who had the better start and Jack Redshaw almost opened the scoring in the fifth minute.
He danced his way through the defence but he overran the ball after PNE’s new keeper Jamie Jones came off his line to push the Shrimps striker out wide.
But PNE struck in the 19th minute. Alan Browne started a slick counter-attacking move in his own half that led to Hayhurst sweeping in another trademark curling cross for Garner to head home from 12-yards out.
Referee Ross Joyce pulled the players off for a Brazilian World Cup Style mid-game drinks break in the 26th minute moments after Paul Gallagher had stung Arestidou’s palms with a fierce 30-yard free-kick.
Garner nearly doubled his tally in the 36th minute after Gallgher fed him in at the top of the penalty box. The striker took his time before unleashing a superb curling shot but his strike rattled the advertising board to the left of goal rather than nestling in the net.
Grayson made three changes at the start of the second half as John Welsh, Jones and creator of PNE’s first-half goal Hayhurst left the field.
They were replaced by Stuckmann, Neil Kilkenny and the in-form Josh Brownhill.
Morecambe started sharply again as Williams tore his way down the left and bounded into the penalty area but he blasted a shot-come-cross way wide of Stuckmann’s right hand post.
Redshaw nearly grabbed an equaliser as he found himself in an identical situation to his first half chance. But this time the striker took on Stuckmann rather than Jones.
The German got a hand to the ball and pushed the striker wider but the tricky hit man recovered and his curling shot from a tight angle to the left of goal just flew wide of the right post.
The pressure told as the hosts equalised in the 64th minute. Williams stepped up and smashed a 30-yard free-kick beyond the PNE keeper. Stuckmann got his fingers to the ball but he got down too late and could not push it away as it nestled in the bottom right corner.
Grayson made four changes in the 68th minute, Chris Humphrey, Kevin Davies, Keane and Calum Woods came on for Browne, Little, Scott Wiseman and goal scorer Garner.
And it was Keane who made the difference. The midfielder was teed up by K Davies and he sublimely chipped the ball past Arestidou in the 82nd minute to seal victory for PNE.
PNE: Jones (Stuckmann, 46), Wiseman (Woods, 68), Clarke (Buchanan, 77), King, B Davies, Hayhurst (Kilkenny, 46), Browne (Keane, 68), Welsh (Brownhill, 46) Gallagher (Laird, 77), Little (K Davies, 68) Garner (Humphrey, 68). Subs not used: Byrom, Hugill.
Morecambe: Arestidou, Beeley (Wright 73), Hughes, Edwards (Parrish 81), Wilson (Goodall 81), Drummond (Kenyon 64), Fleming, Williams, Ellison, Amond, Redshaw (Sampson 68). Subs not used: Stewart (GK), McGowan, Doyle, McCready.
Referee: Ross Joyce (Cleveland)
Attendance: 1364 (PNE: 490)