Match Report: Preston North End 0-0 Fleetwood Town - Josh Murphy returns as reserves draw

Preston North End reserves drew 0-0 with Fleetwood Town at Euxton in the Central League, with Josh Murphy making his return from injury after four months out.

By Tom Sandells
Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 4:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 4:14 pm

Murphy was the most noteable inclusion in the starting XI, the on-loan winger having last featured for the first team in October.

North End opted for youth, as has been the way since Ryan Lowe took charge, with Paul Huntington and Matthew Olosunde the only other senior players invovled aside from Murphy, the two defenders both out of the PNE squad for league games - though a space is available if either are required.

The home side had the better of the opening 45, Murphy having the first attempt at goal four minutes in, a cheeky 40 yard attempt after the referee gave a drop ball to PNE having been hit by the ball.

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Matthew Olosunde in action for PNE reserves. Credit: PNE/Ian Robinson.

Lewis Coulton was the first to test Tom Donaghy in the Fleetwood net after 11 minutes, his header from the far post was uncontested after Lewis Leigh's delivery but the Town 'keeper was able to get his body behind the ball and hold onto it.

Mikey O'Neil was the next up for PNE six minutes later, he was slid in behind by a smart pass from Olosunde but his effort was smothered by an advancing Donaghy, who did well to make life difficult for the forward.

The visitors' only chance of the first half came after 20 minutes, Danny Edwards given time on the edge of the box to fire at goal but James Pradic held onto it above his head.

Josh Seary had a couple of chances for North End, dragging both his efforts from the right side too far across goal and past the far post.

Five minutes from the half, Murphy showed his skill as he nutmegged his man, beat another and looked to fire across goal on his left foot from the right side, Will Johnson threw his body in the way of the effort and it was deflected behind for a corner.

PNE continued to be the side in control in the second half, Lewis Leigh seeing a shot saved after 50 minutes and Noah Mawene having penalty appeals turned down eight minutes later.

Murphy again looked most likely to create for the Lilywhites, missing the target from the right side of the box before being subsituted on the hour - having looked sharp on his return.

Fleetwood were to have one chance, as they did in the first half, this time Cheikh Thiam did well down the right side, cutting inside two and shooting on his left foot which was blocked behind for a corner.

It would be the last chance in the game, which did not fizzle out but provided little of note, with neither side able to carve out a proper opportunity as changes broke up their rhythm.

PNE Starting XI: Pradic, Nevin, Huntington (Mfuni, 61'), Coulton, Seary, Leigh, Olosunde, Mawene (Walker, 81'), Slater (Blanchard, 75'), Murphy (Rodwell-Grant, 61'), O'Neill.

PNE subs not used: Lombard.

Fleetwood Starting XI: Donaghy, Thiam, Batch, Bird, Baker, Johnson, Edwards, Thompson, McMillan, White, Smith.

Fleetwood subs: Hoyle, Rees, Leggett, Kearns, Thompson-Prempeh.

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