Billy Bodin has set the bar high when it comes to the quality of Preston’s goalscoring in the campaign ahead.
The winger netted a fine equaliser to earn North End a deserved share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw against West Ham.
Picked out by a 60-yard cross-field ball from Andrew Hughes – as assists go it was pretty impressive – Bodin’s touch to bring it down once it dropped over his shoulder was excellent.
He still had work to do in getting the better of Declan Rice before beating keeper Adrian at the near post.
“I saw Hughesy look up and the gaffer likes to get runners in behind,” said Bodin.
“The ball dropped over my shoulder, my touch was good and I managed to get away from the centre-half and in at the front post.
“A couple of good touches gave me the yard I needed and it was nice to see it go in.”
Bodin was inches away from a second in the closing moments, firing wide from an arguably easier chance than the one he scored with.
However, a draw against a strong Hammers side was not to be sniffed at.
For a pre-season friendly, it was competitive, the knock in the ribs which Ben Pearson took early on indicative of that – an injury which ended his afternoon 20 minutes in.
Twice West Ham took the lead through their Austria striker Marko Arnautovic.
Tom Clarke brought PNE level the first time, then came Bodin’s moment.
There was scope for more goals, Adrian producing good saves from Tom Barkhuizen and Alan Browne.
Chris Maxwell took the goalkeeping headlines though, saving a penalty from Mark Noble.
Awarded for Josh Earl’s challenge on Ryan Fredericks with the scoreline at 2-1, the spot-kick gave the visitors to effectively wrap up the game.
But Maxwell went to his left to block Noble’s effort and then held it.
The Welshman has a more than decent record when it comes to saving penalties and sharpening those skills during pre-season will not have done him any harm.
Alex Neil had spoken of the improved depth to the North End squad which is available to him and Saturday’s match highlighted that.
While he still wants to do a bit more incoming business, those already here are giving the PNE boss plenty to think about ahead of the campaign’s opener against QPR.
Neil pushed six players through the full 90 minutes and others will get the chance to do the same when Burnley come visiting on Monday. Summer arrivals Hughes and Ryan Ledson got their Deepdale bows off the bench, Ledson making an earlier than anticipated appearance when Pearson came off.
Ledson slotted in well to the midfield and has an edge to his play which will suit Neil’s side style. Daryl Horgan was busy on the right wing as he goes about the task of kick-starting his PNE career following last season’s stall.
Player of the year Browne went the full distance, covering plenty of ground in his role behind Louis Moult.
West Ham were allowed to take an early lead when PNE switched off, Noble’s quickly-taken free-kick found Arnautovic unmarked in the box and he tucked a shot past Maxwell.
Clarke briefly had Preston back on level terms when he headed home Paul Gallagher’s cross in the 40th minute.
The visitors regained the lead on the stroke of half-time, Arnautovic firing home on the turn at the end of a Hammers counter-attack.
Maxwell saved from the spot just past the hour, coming off the back of three good PNE chances.
Bodin’s moment of class in the 76th minute deservedly pulled the hosts level.