Preston 2-1 Sunderland: Summer signings step up to make instant impact at Deepdale

Will Keane and Mads Frokjaer on the mark to steer Preston to victory at Deepdale
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After the midweek disappointment of being dumped out of the Carabao Cup on penalties to Salford City, Preston faced a side which reached the Championship play-offs last season in the form of Sunderland, writes John McDougall.

And two new signings this summer gave Ryan Lowe’s side reason for optimism going forward as Will Keane and Mads Frokjaer both found themselves on the scoresheet in the 2-1 victory - they even grabbed the assists for each other’s strikes.

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Reverting to the same starting team which fought back to pick up a point on the opening day of the season on the road to Bristol City, North End began their home Championship campaign with several first-team stars still out to injury in the form of Ben Whiteman, Emil Riis and Ched Evans.

With the Championship now a more challenging division than it was last season thanks to what has come down from the Premier League and been promoted from League One, the Lilywhites must make Deepdale somewhat of a fortress if they have aspirations to compete for the top six. This was a good start to doing exactly that.

There were hints of danger from the Black Cats early on and youngster Kian Best showed quality to rob the dangerous Patrick Roberts in the box when he could have easily conceded a penalty, illustrating the potential he has.

Freddie Woodman was called into action to maintain the deadlock midway through the first half, parrying over Pierre Ekwah’s curling and dipping effort which could have given the visitors the advantage.

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Not long after that, Preston were ahead, though there was an element of fortune about it. Frokjaer’s shot from outside the box struck Keane and it went past a wrongfooted Anthony Patterson.

Youngster Best showed his inexperience however when he pulled Jack Clarke’s shirt in the box and gave the referee no option to point to the spot. Woodman nearly got a hand to the low effort, but Clarke put it straight into the bottom corner.

Following the interval, Best’s corner was nearly hooked in by Alan Browne but the Black Cats cleared, while Ekwah took aim at the other end to see a powerful effort bounce wide.

North End showed promise with a counter attack involving Frokjaer and Browne, with Best recovering well from his first half error with several important interceptions. The 17-year-old even worked some space on the edge of the box to dink an effort over the Black Cats goal.

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And the rejuvenated hosts rightly went in front when Browne’s cross was knocked on by Keane for Frokjaer to slot past Patterson just before the hour mark. The noise reverberated around Deepdale as North End showed a cutting edge which had been lacking in the first half.

Sunderland did threaten still though at times and Clarke slotted a cross from the left to Roberts which Woodman was in the right place to deny 15 minutes before full-time, with Luke O’Nien thumping a header wide not long after and Andrew Hughes put in a precise challenge to deny Abdoullah Ba who was clean through on goal.

North End weathered what Sunderland threw at them but the three points were secured. Onto Hillsborough and Sheffield Wednesday.

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