PNE boss pleased with stern Motherwell test

Joe Garner shields the ball from Motherwell defender Stevie Hammell
Joe Garner shields the ball from Motherwell defender Stevie Hammell
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Simon Grayson felt that his Preston North End side got their sternest test of the pre-season yet in Friday night’s victory over Motherwell.

Joe Garner and Neil Kilkenny found the net in the 2-1 victory at Livingston, the pair on target within a couple of minutes of each other in the first half.

Louis Moult pulled a goal back for the Steelmen in the 89th minute.

Lilywhites boss Grayson said: “This was exactly what we anticipated when we arranged this fixture, a step-up in terms of opposition and a team who are only a week off the start of their league season.

“In the first half we passed the ball well, were comfortable in possession, created some good chances and scored the two goals.

“We were tested more in the second half and it was the first time we have had to defend really strongly as a team.

“Up until the last minute we defended really well, individual players got blocks in, we defended well as a unit and Jamie Jones made some good saves.

“Jamie played well, all through the pre-season he has been consistent which I’m pleased about.

“We looked like we were capable of scoring goals, their goalkeeper made some good saves as well.

“Overall it was a pleasing night as we prepare for the new season.

“Last week against Hearts was okay,but in this game we were put under pressure which is good because we need to be tested.

“We are going to be taken to the maximum at times and the players need to know what they do when they are under pressure.”

Garner opened the scoring with a header from Paul Gallagher’s cross, Kilkenny then putting his name on the scoresheet for the first time since last August with a fine shot from the edge of the box.

Grayson said: “Neil has probably used his goal up for the season!

“It was a great finish, bending it into the top corner like that.

“For Neil to get on the scoresheet was nice and it was great for Joe to score a good team goal.

“Joe did what he is good at, moving defenders around in the box and finishing well.”

North End are staying in Scotland for a few days in order to have a mixture of training and team bonding, with them returning over the border on Tuesday to face Carlisle United.

“On Saturday morning the lads who played will do a recovery session and the ones who didn’t feature will have a football session,” said Grayson.

“In the afternoon we are going to watch the Celtic v Rennes friendly and then there is a bit of go-karting at night for some team bonding.

“There will be double sessions on Sunday and Monday, then we go to Carlisle on Tuesday.”

The fitness of Calum Woods will be assessed over the coming days, the full-back coming off in the 59th minute with discomfort in his hamstring.