Fleetwood Town 1 Preston North End 0 - Match report from Highbury as PNE slip to defeat against Joey Barton's side

Preston's Ryan Ledson and Fleetwood left-back Danny Andrew go in for a tackle
Preston's Ryan Ledson and Fleetwood left-back Danny Andrew go in for a tackle

Preston North End lost for the second time in pre-season as they were beaten by Fleetwood Town at Highbury in their penultimate friendly.

The contest which in the first half was a feisty affair, was settled by Ashley Hunter's goal in the 59th minute, the Fleetwood substitute running on to a pass from Harry Souttar to shoot low past Connor Ripley.

It was a deserved victory for the hosts who were the better side over the course of the 90 minutes.

With a game against Newcastle United at Deepdale on Saturday, PNE boss Alex Neil had split his squad in two to cover the two games.

You would question how many of the XI on show in this defeat are in line to start next week's Championship opener at Millwall, with a stronger-looking side held back to face the Premier League Magpies.

Few in this game pressed their claim for a start next week, North End limited to half chances against their League One hosts.

David Nugent started his first game since returning to Deepdale last week.

Nugent played behind striker Jayden Stockley, with Graham Burke on the right-wing and Josh Harrop on the left.

Daniel Johnson and Ryan Ledson were the midfield pair, Johnson wearing the skipper's armband.

Fleetwood threatened first with Harrison Biggins getting behind the Preston defence on the left and pulling the ball back into the path of Wes Burns who managed to lift a first-time shot over the bar and indeed over the stand roof and out of the ground.

Burke saw a shot well blocked by Peter Clarke after Stockley had headed down Josh Earl's cross into his path.

A challenge between Josh Morris and Darnell Fisher saw the Fleetwood man stay down and after a few minutes delay, was carried off on a stretcher.

Shortly after that, Burke was booked for a lunge at Conor McAleny as they went for a loose ball near the half-way line.

Just before the half hour mark, Hunter came inside off the left-wing and hit a low shot from the edge of the box which Connor Ripley dived to parry and hold at the second attempt.

Burke who played with as much purpose as any North End player in the first half, clipped a volley inches too high after Stockley had headed Johnson's cross to him.

Hunter got the first-half's second yellow three minutes before the break for a foul on Fisher, both players having nibbled away at one another since Hunter had come on.

The final action before the interval saw Jordan Rossiter volley just over the bar after a corner had been cleared as far as him a couple of yards outside the box.

Nugent was replaced at the break by Louis Moult, the new boy doing a warm-down with the fitness coach during the interval and then embarking on an autograph-signing session with the travelling Preston fans.

Burke had North End's first sight of goal in the second half, driving a free-kick from 25 yards over the bar.

Fleetwood took the lead in the 59th minute after Ledson was dispossessed by Souttar in midfield.

Souttar took the ball on a few strides before slipping a pass through to Hunter who finished with a low shot past the advancing Ripley.

The home side threatened again with a low shot from Burns which Ripley dived to hold comfortably.

Preston came close to an equaliser in the 66th minute, Burke's low shot from the edge of the box pushed past the post by substitute keeper Billy Crellin.

Johnson tested Crellin with an effort from outside the box, his low shot held by the youngster.

Fleetwood: Cairns (Crellin 61), Coyle (Sheron 73), Souttar, Clarke (Eastham 61), Andrew (Southam-Hales 73), Coutts (Rydel 73), Rossiter (Mooney 73), Biggins (Sowerby 61), Burns (Baggley 73), Morris (Hunter 23), McAleny (Madden 61).

PNE: Ripley, Fisher (Rafferty 73), Storey, Huntington, Earl, Ledson, Johnson, Burke (O'Reilly 83), Nugent, (Moult 46) Harrop, Stockley. Subs (not used): Simpson, Walker, Armer, Crowe.

Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)