Preston North End's pre-season was a strange one for fans and now the focus is on Hull City clash at Deepdale

Pre-season is over and for Preston North End their focus has narrowed down to Hull City’s visit to Deepdale on Saturday.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 4:45 pm

PNE’s pre-season has been somewhat challenging for different reasons and there will be a relief that the proper stuff starts this weekend.

This was football’s first full pre-season of the Covid era, last year’s being a brief affair squashed between the very late finish of the 2019/20 season and a slightly later start to 2020/21.

In terms of folk being able to watch North End during this pre-season in person, it was a mixed bag. Although the intention was much different, PNE fans were only allowed into three of them.

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Jamie Thomas, Alan Browne and Patrick Bauer ahead of Preston North End's friendly at Wigan

The opener at Bamber Bridge was open to all, that said with a 1,300 capacity, only for Brig’s pitch to flood and it getting hastily moved to Euxton behind closed doors.

North End’s two matches in Scotland were limited to a small number of home fans by reason of Scottish Government restrictions.

St Johnsone only having 1,000 fans in a 10,000 seater ground seemed a touch on the cautious side, so Celtic being restricted to 2,000 when their ground holds 60,000 was bordering on ridiculous.

PNE fans got to see their side play live against Bolton at neutral Leyland, then away to Accrington Stanley.

Ben Whiteman scores Preston North End's winner at Celtic from the penalty spot

The Manchester City visit went behind closed doors due to Covid protocol but the gates were open to the away end at Wigan last Friday.

Manchester United’s late pull-out for Saturday’s game left a bitter taste in the mouth of many supporters.

‘Possible’ positive Covid tests within the United squad turned into negatives ones the following day.

While North End had a bounce game at Deepdale in place of the marquee friendly, United’s players went out for lunch together.

In the flesh, PNE’s faithful saw something resembling the first-choice side just the once – at Accrington.

The sides fielded against Bolton and Wigan were more of an alternative.

It was iFollow for the rest, once it worked that is after falling over at St Johnstone.

With that following on from 16 months locked out of stadiums due to Covid, there does seem to be a frustration among the fan base about the pre-season events.

Supporters just want some normality, as we do in other areas of our lives.

This pre-season has been different for all clubs.

There have been closed-door games, sides from the same division playing one another, others have met at neutral locations where they might happen to be training.

North End were not alone in the rug being pulled from under them in terms of late cancellations.

Let us hope we get a free run at the 2021/22 season, a normal campaign after all of the disruption of the last 18 months or so.

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