PNE 1 Oldham 0 full-time

Preston North End vs Oldham Athletic
Preston North End vs Oldham Athletic
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Jack King’s early goal was enough to give Preston North End victory over Oldham Athletic at Deepdale and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

King, playing in a holding midfield role, swept a fourth-minute shot into the roof of the net after Tom Clarke had headed back a Paul Gallagher free-kick.

It was a close-run win, with Oldham having much of the play in the second half as they went in search of an equaliser.

PNE goalkeeper Jamie Jones produced a good save with his legs in the 90th to prevent Jonathan Forte levelling.

Lilywhites Simon Grayson had made three changes to the North End side.

Scott Laird, Andy Little and King came into the starting XI at the expense of Ben Davies, Neil Kilkenny and Alan Browne.

It was a first start of the season for both Laird and King, while Little started for the first time since the Capital One Cup win at Rochdale.

PNE started in a 4-2-3-1 system, King and Josh Brownhill in the deeper roles, Chris Humphrey and Little on the wings with Paul Gallagher playing off Joe Garner.

They went ahead in the fourth minute after winning a free-kick down the right channel.

Gallagher delivered the set-piece towards the far post where Tom Clarke met it in the air.

His header dropped back across the box with it being knocked into the path of King who slammed a right-foot shot into the roof of the net.

Oldham came close to a swift equaliser, Brian Wilson’s cross finding Jonson Clarke-Harris who put his header straight into the gloves of Jones.

Back at the other end, Garner scuffed a shot at keeper Paul Rachubka.

Then the striker got on the end of a Gallagher delivery into the box, but off balance, could only direct his header over the bar.

With 15 minutes played, Oldham defender George Elokobi was given too much room to advance towards the North End box, letting fly with a shot from 25 yards which flew just wide.

Another Gallagher free-kick, this time from the left, found Bailey Wright, the defender’s stooping header going wide of the back stick.

Wright had defensive duties to do when he got a block on a shot from Clarke-Harris, the challenge taking the ball over the ball.

North End finished the first half quite strongly, carving out three decent chances as the interval approached.

Good work by Humphrey on the right saw him play a pass inside to Brownhill, the youngster’s first-time shot drifting wide.

Humphrey popped up on the other wing soon after, checking inside and hitting a shot which caught a deflection to carry it wide of the far post.

In the 45th minute, Humphrey’s pass found Gallagher down the left side of the box.

Gallagher lifted the ball into the middle, Garner meeting it but looping a header on to the top of the net.

Oldham should have equalised less than sixty seconds after the break, Carl Winchester’s right-wing cross finding Forte at the back post.

But the former Preston loan man did not connect properly with an unmarked header and saw it fly wide.

One-time North End trialist Joseph Mills sent over a decent centre in the 57th minute which found Clarke-Harris,

The Latics striker got too far over the ball, planting a downward header into the ground and wide.

Just before the hour, Little drove a shot over the bar after Gallagher had got crowded out on the edge of the box.

Then the former Rangers front man’s ball from the left travelled across the face of the six-yard box without a white shirt being able to get a touch.

Jones was called into action in the 63rd minute, diving to his right to push away a curling effort from Clarke-Harris.

North End made a double change in the 69th minute, Jordan Hugill and Alan Browne replacing Gallagher and Brownhill.

Hugill had a sight of goal within a few minutes of joining the action, Garner belatedly playing him after cutting in field.

The substitute got possession on the left of the box and his bending shot clipped off an Oldham player and over the bar for a corner.

That was part of a hard-working cameo from Hugill who endeared himself to the Deepdale faithful by getting through plenty of chasing down.

In the 75th minute, Garner headed wide from Browne’s left-wing cross.

It was the visitors putting on the pressure as the game entered its closing stages.

Jones positioned himself well behind a shot from Oldham midfielder Mike Jones to save comfortably,

Then as the clock ticked into the 90th minute, the Preston keeper made a good block with his legs to deny Forte 10 yards out, with substitute Amari Morgan-Smith putting the rebound over the bar.

PNE: Jones, Woods, Clarke, Wright (Wiseman 84), Laird, King, Brownhill (Browne 69), Humphrey, Gallagher (Hugill 69), Little, Garner. Subs not usedKilkenny, K Davies, Hayhurst, Stuckmann.

Oldham: Rachubka, B Wilson, J Wilson, Elokobi, Mills (Noble 86), Kelly, Jones, Philliskirk (Dayton 74), Winchester (Morgan-Smith 74), Forte, Clarke-Harris. Subs not used: Coleman, Brown, Dieng, Kusunga.

Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland)

Attendance: 11,678 (865 Oldham)