Match Report - Preston North End 1-0 Stoke City - Central League campaign begins with a win for the Lilywhites

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Preston North End started their Central League campaign with a 1-0 win over Stoke City.

Sean Maguire’s early penalty proved to be the only goal of the game at North End’s Euxton Training Ground, as manager Ryan Lowe, as well as the rest of the first team coaching staff, watched on.

North End are looking to defend their title, having been crowned champions of The Central League North last season.

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There was a mix of youth and experience in the North End line up, with first team players Dai Cornell, Bambo Diaby, Patrick Bauer and Maguire in from the off.

Dana Amaral goes into a challenge during PNE's 1-0 win over Stoke City in the Central League. Credit: PNEFC/Ian RobinsonDana Amaral goes into a challenge during PNE's 1-0 win over Stoke City in the Central League. Credit: PNEFC/Ian Robinson
Dana Amaral goes into a challenge during PNE's 1-0 win over Stoke City in the Central League. Credit: PNEFC/Ian Robinson

Lewis Leigh, Dana Amaral, Jacob Slater, Noah Mawene and Mikey O'Neill, who are all pushing to break into the first team squad, also started.

Former PNE academy player Jacob Holland-Wilkinson, who was released this summer, started on the bench for Stoke and came on for some game time towards the end.

North End started the game well and got rewarded early on, Mawene burst into the box and was brought down, allowing Maguire to step up and take the spot kick just three minutes into the game.

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The Irishman confidently stepped up and slotted the ball to the goalkeeper's left, as he dived to his right. It was Maguire’s first bit of competitive action since picking up an Achilles injury in the first pre-season game of the summer against Bamber Bridge at the start of July.

He almost had his second five minutes later but his header direct from a Slater corner was well saved by Tommy Simkin in the Stoke goal, who would go on to be the biggest problem North End had on the day.

He was on hand again as Maguire again looked to extend the home side's lead shortly after.

North End's no.9 on the day was then provider as he laid the ball off to Leigh on the edge of the box but his bending strike went just over the crossbar after 14 minutes.

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Leigh forced an excellent save from Simkin on 21 minutes, his effort from the right side of the box aimed at the near post was just about tipped onto the post by the Potters stopper.

Maguire had another go at goal six minutes before the interval, this time dragging his effort wide of the post.

Stoke had their first real chance eight minutes into the second half, Douglas James-Taylor missing the target from inside the area.

North End replied however with O'Neill seeing a fine header from close range saved after Rio Pemberton's delivery from the right on the hour mark.

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Two minutes later PNE were again pushing for a second, Leigh was brought down on the edge of the box and took the resulting free kick. His strike was tipped onto the crossbar with Maguire's follow up header cleared off the line.

The visitors nearly levelled it on 72 minutes, Demeaco Duhaney's cross from the right volleyed wide by Nathaniel Opoku from about 10 yards out.

It proved to be the final chance of the game as North End saw out the final quarter of an hour with their lead intact.

PNE Starting XI: Cornell, Diaby (Pemberton, 50'), Bauer, Wallbank, Taylor, Leigh, Amaral (Kamara, 85'), Mawene, Slater, Maguire (Nelson, 63'), O'Neill.

PNE subs not used: Pradic, McGhee.