Celtic 0 Preston North End 1 match report: Ben Whiteman penalty earns Lilywhites victory at Celtic Park
Preston North End brought their Scotland trip to a winning end as they got the better of Celtic.
Ben Whiteman settled the contest with a 64th minute penalty after substitute Sean Maguire had been fouled by Celtic sub keeper Scott Bain.
It was a deserved victory for North End who created the better of the chances over the course of the game.
Scott Sinclair, Ched Evans, Liam Lindsay and Emil Riis had chances to score, before Whiteman did the business from the spot.
Celtic came close to a late equaliser, Declan Rudd making a fine save to deny Ewan Robertson. It would have been harsh on PNE had they allowed the lead to slip.
The performance was a couple of notches up from the 1-1 draw with St Johnstone last Tuesday, North End certainly looking sharper and covering the ground quicker.
Their passing was crisper, it just being the finishing which needed an upgrade - that not a new problem,.
North End lined-up in a 3-5-2 system, going with a back three of Jordan Storey, Lindsay and Andrew Hughes.
Tom Barkhuizen and Greg Cunningham operated as wing-backs, with Evans partnered by Sinclair up front.
There were 2,000 fans in the 60,000 capacity ground, the first time Celtic supporters had been in the stadium since March 2020. This was a test event ahead in terms of the crowd ahead of an increase in numbers going forward.
Only a fine save from Celtic keeper Vasilios Barkas prevented PNE taking a fourth minute lead.
They counter-attacked down the right hand side of the pitch, Barkhuizen's low cross deflected into the path of Brad Potts whose thumping first-time shot was parried by Barkas.
At the other end, David Turnbull's low shot from the edge of the box flashed past the post.
In the ninth minute Sinclair was played through on goal down the left channel and appeared to be clipped by a defender as he got into the box.
The former Celtic man stayed on his feet and slightly off balance saw Barkas narrow the angle and touch Sinclair's shot behind at the near post.
Another chance fell the visitors' way not long after, Ryan Ledson's deep corner headed back across goal by Lindsay and cleared.
The ball fell to Whiteman on the edge of the box, the midfielder's first-time volley travelling just over the bar.
North End should really have taken the lead in the 18th minute as good approach play found Ledson outside the box.
He lifted the ball with the outside of his right boot up to the far post where an unmarked Evans steered a header too high.
Evans was off target with another header later, this time from Cunningham's cross.
Just beyond the half-hour mark, Rudd used his feet to save Turnbull's drive from outside the box.
Five minutes before half-time Ledson delivered a free-kick to the far post area, Storey's rising to meet it with a header which was deflected over the bar.
After the break, Lindsay headed wide after getting on the end of Hughes' knockdown from a Ledson free-kick, then Evans hit a volley into the ground and saw it bounce up over the bar - Potts' clipped cross having set him up.
North End made seven substitutions after an hour and the changes were quickly to make an impact.
Riis' first touch forced Scott Bain to parry, then in the 63rd minute Maguire went to ground under a challenge from Bain as he got behind the Celtic defence and into the six-yard box.
Referee Kevin Clancy pointed to the spot, Whiteman doing the honours with a calm finish into the bottom corner as Bain went the wrong way.
McAvoy ended up using 10 outfield subs, Tom Bayliss and Josh Harrop replacing Ledson and Whiteman a few minutes after the goal. Then 16-year-old Josh Seary came on for Barkhuizen.
As the game moved into the final stages, North End found themselves with some defending to do as Celtic looked to salvage a share of the spoils.
With five minutes left, Sepp van den Berg got a vital touch to a dangerous cross, taking it away from two home players lurking at the far post.
In the 89th minute it needed a fine save from Rudd to preserve the lead, the North End keeper diving to his left to tip behind Henderson's shot which was heading for the top corner.
At the other end, Riis did his best to take the pressure off, cutting into the box and hitting a low shot which Bain got down to save at the near post.
Celtic: Barhas (Bain 46), Ralston, Urhoghide (Murray 46), Welsh, Taylor, McGregor, Shaw, Moffatt (Henderson 46) Turnbull, Montgomery, Ajeti. Subs: Abudo, Rogic, Edouardo, Bolingoli, Afolabi, O'Connor Coffey, Robertson, Hjelde.
PNE: Rudd, Storey (Bauer 61), Lindsay (van den Berg 61), Hughes (Rafferty 61), Barkhuizen (Seary 76), Ledson (Harrop 68), Whiteman (Bayliss 68), Potts (Brown 61), Cunningham (Earl 61), Evans (Riis 61), Sinclair (Maguire 61). Subs (not used): Hudson, Leigh, Mawene.
Referee: Kevin Clancy
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