With the Third Division season less than a week away Preston North End boss Alan Kelly has work to do after his side bowed out of the Manx Cup against Blackburn Rovers with a 1-0 defeat.
The result means Kelly’s men have scored just once in three outings during the pre-season tournament, while Blackburn will go on to face Wigan on Tuesday night in the final.
North End played with plenty of commitment and enthusiasm and looked comfortable in defence for most of the match but their attack looked toothless as once again they failed to find the net.
Former Chorley player Geoff Twentyman was outstanding in defence and could prove to be a valuable asset to the team if he can hold down a first team place.
Mark Jones also put in a good performance and coped well at full-back against Rovers’ star winger’s Noel Brotherston and Ian Miller.
The match could have ended differently had North End taken an early chance.
Willie Naughton put a teasing cross into the middle and after good battling by Paul Wilkins the ball fell to Paul McGee who chipped the ball over advancing goalkeeper Terry Gennoe only for the ball to fall the wrong side of the post.
The eventual winner arrived in the 28th minute and was a goal worthy of winning any match.
Mick Rathbone and Simon Garner combined well down the left flank before the latter crossed to the back-post for Simon Barker to volley past a hopeless Peter Litchfield.
Rovers stayed on top after taking the lead and could have been further ahead with Chris Thompson twice hitting the woodwork.
Blackburn fans saw their first glimpse of Jimmy Quinn, who looked lively, when came on to make his debut with 20 minutes remaining after replacing goal provider Garner.
Substitute Peter Houghton had a chance to equalise for Preston in the dying moments of the match but he was denied by Rovers’ keeper Gennoe after rushing through on goal, leaving the match to finishing 1-0 to Rovers.
The match was well contested and produced a handful of bookings. Glen Keeley and Brotherston went into the book for Blackburn while Mark Jones and Booth were booked for Preston.
Blackburn Rovers XI: Gennoe, Branagan, Raithbone, Barker, Keeley, Fazackerley, Miller, Randell, Thompson, Garner (Quinn 70th), Brotherston.
Preston North End XI: Litchfield, Jones, McAteer, Twentyman, Booth, Clark, Farrelly, Murphy (Houston 56th), Wilkins, Naughton, McGee (Houghton 56th).