Swansea City 3 Preston North End 2 - Match report as the Lilywhites go down to defeat in an enthralling clash at the Liberty Stadium

Preston North End's wretched record at Swansea City's Liberty Stadium continued as they went down to defeat to the Welsh side.

Saturday, 17th August 2019, 5:09 pm
Updated Saturday, 17th August 2019, 6:09 pm
Joe Rafferty is congratulated after giving Preston the lead

This was a fifth defeat in five visits to the venue - their last win at the Swans' former Vetch Field home was in 1961 - and North End won't have had a better chance to put points on the board here for the first time.

They bossed the first half, taking an early lead from left-back Joe Rafferty who found the net from more than 20 yards.

It was an advantage they held until first-half stoppage-time when Borja Baston side-footed Swansea's equaliser - that the hosts' first effort on target of the game.

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Sean Maguire on the attack for Preston against Swansea

Much of the added time was due to a serious-looking injury suffered by PNE striker Louis Moult - cruciate ligament damage is suspected after his leg buckled under him chasing a ball into the box.

Three goals in six minutes had the emotions swinging all over the place.

Substitute George Byers fired Swansea in front in the 63rd minute before Daniel Johnson levelled from the penalty spot for the Lilywhites after Sean Maguire had been fouled.

But they were on level pegging less than two minutes, Baston heading his second goal of the game - sufficient as it turned out to give the home side the three points.

PNE manager Alex Neil at the Liberty Stadium

Right at the death, North End had a shout for another penalty when Maguire's shot appeared to hit Joe Rodon on the arm but all they got was a corner.

Alex Neil had reverted to 10 of the side who beat Wigan last week, having changed the entire starting XI for the Carabao Cup win at Bradford.

Rafferty was the one player to keep his place, needed at left-back in place of the injured Andrew Hughes.

An early free-kick from Bersant Celina was blocked by the North End wall and Ben Davies headed the loose ball clear, and from then on the visitors bossed the first half.

They took the lead in the 11th minute, Rafferty intercepting a clearance out of the Swansea defence.

He chested the ball down, moved inside on to his right foot and struck a right-foot shot which caught the keeper unaware at his near post and bounced in.

Buoyed by that, North End went on to see plenty of the ball and knocked it around nicely.

They suffered a big blow though in the 25th minute as Moult suffered what looked like a serious injury.

Moult darted into the box and stretched to try and meet a high ball, his standing leg appearing to buckle underneath him.

The signal was immediately for a stretcher and after being tended to by the physio and club doctor, the striker was carried off - Andre Green coming off the bench to replace him.

Johnson drilled a first-time shot wide from 15 yards after a clearance had fallen into his path, while Bodin's shot on the turn from just inside the box was saved by goalkeeper Freddie Woodman diving to his right.

Maguire's header from a Paul Gallagher corner travelled just too high, while the Irishman went close again just before the break.

He got away from his marker down the left hand side of the box and drilled a low shot across goal which went inches wide of the far post.

Swansea hit PNE with a sucker-punch with more than four minutes of stoppage-time played at the end of the first half.

A rare home attack saw them work the ball out to Connor Roberts, the full-back's low cross finding Baston who side-footed a low shot across Declan Rudd from 10 yards.

The hosts started the second half well, Jake Bidwell's ball down the left channel releasing Celina in the box in the 47th minute - his shot flashing into the side-netting.

Substitute Andre Ayew found himself in a similar position four minutes later but Rudd was out well to block his shot.

Maguire did well in the 58th minute to cut into the box from the left and from a narrow angle hit a low shot which keeper Woodman blocked with his legs at the near post.

The game then burst into life with three goals in six minutes, Swansea going 2-1 up in the 63rd minute.

Celina's pull-back from left found Baston with Patrick Bauer getting in a block on his shot.

The ball broke into the path of substitute Byers who curled a first-time right-foot shot into the net from 12 yards.

North End equalised within four minutes as Maguire was flattened in the box by Roberts as they competed for a bouncing ball.

Referee Dean Whitestone pointed to the spot, Johnson doing the honours with a calm finish low to Woodman's right who did dive the correct way.

However, the visitors' joy was short-lived as Swansea regained the lead within two minutes.

Bidewell chased a ball down the left side of the box to the byline and lifted a cross into the middle which Baston rose six yards out to head into the roof of the net.

North End chased an equaliser, making a double change as Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen replaced Johnson and Bodin.

In the dying moments of stoppage-time, a low shot from Maguire was blocked for a corner - PNE shouting loudly for handball against Rodon who had diverted it behind.

Gallagher's corner into the middle was met by Maguire but his header was saved low down by Woodman.

Swansea: Woodman, Roberts, van der Hoorn, Rodon, Bidwell, Grimes, Fulton, Dyer (Ayew 22), Celina, Kalulu (Byers 46), Baston (Surridge 80). Subs (not used): Peterson, Wilmot, Naughton, Nordfeldt.

PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Rafferty, Pearson, Gallagher, Bodin (Barkhuizen 80), Johnson (Browne 80), Maguire, Moult (Green 25). Subs (not used): Clarke, Browne, Stockley, Bakrhuizen, Potts, Ripley.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northants)

Attendance: 15,250