St Johnstone 1 Preston 1: Dave Seddon's verdict - 1,000 home fans, four away supporters watching from a hill and a dodgy live stream

Preston North End’s start to their pre-season friendly programme has unwittingly become a private affair.

By Dave Seddon
Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 5:43 pm

Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with St Johnstone came on the back on the wash-out at Bamber Bridge which forced the Brig game to go behind closed doors at the training ground.

While the turnstiles at McDiarmid Park clicked again, it was home fans only – 1,000 of them were scattered around the 10,000-capacity stadium.

The North End faithful, bar four intrepid supporters who watched from the hill outside the ground after sampling some Scottish hospitality, had to be content with iFollow.

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Unfortunately the live stream went belly-up in the first few minutes and had to be abandoned.

With Saturday’s visit to Celtic also home fans only, this time numbering 2,000, PNE followers will have to hope the live pictures from north of the border hold up.

In truth, they didn’t miss a great deal from Preston’s first visit to Perth. Ben Whiteman’s shot from 25 yards to give his side a 35th-minute lead was the highlight, a quality finish.

It was an advantage which lasted only until five minutes into the second half when David Wotherspoon pulled the home side level.

Preston North End defender Sepp van den Berg in action against St Johnstone Pic: PNE

Wotherspoon missed a penalty soon after the equaliser, and that was pretty much the excitement wrapped up.

Things got a touch feisty in the latter stages, Brad Potts getting a yellow card, likewise the home side’s Callum Hendry.

Ryan Ledson also got involved in a bit of ‘afters’ with a Saints player as a little bit of English-v-Scottish tension rose to the surface.

The main thing PNE gained were minutes in the tank, the reason why these friendlies are played.

Seven players got an hour, four got 45 minutes, Joe Rafferty got 79 minutes and Josh Seary 11.

Keeper Mathew Hudson was the one Preston player to complete the full game, with Declan Rudd set to do likewise at Celtic.

There was no Izzy Brown, Alan Browne, Andrew Hughes or Paul Huntington.

Matthew Olosunde and Ched Evans who had sat out the Brig game, were fit enough to feature – new boy Olosunde played the first half while Evans was among the mass of substitutions after an hour.

Frankie McAvoy played a 3-5-2 throughout, the starting XI featuring second-year scholar Lewis Leigh who is making great strides during this first phase of pre-season.

Sepp van den Berg, Patrick Bauer and Josh Earl were the back three, Olosunde and Rafferty the wing-backs.

Whiteman had Leigh and Josh Harrop for company in midfield, with Emil Riis and Sean Maguire paired together up front.

The first 20 minutes were uncomfortable for McAvoy’s men, with them barely in the St Johnstone half.

For all the hosts’ pressure, Hudson had just one save to make, parrying Ali McCann’s shot from 12 yards.

Whiteman started the move which led to his opener, spraying a pass out to PNE’s right flank which found Riis.

It was worked inside by the Dane and Olosunde, before Whiteman took possession again and swept a right-foot shot from 25 yards over the keeper and into the net via the underside of the bar.

Saints, winners of both Scottish cups last season, equalised in the 50th minute.

Hudson came out of his box to kick clear but saw it charged down by Michael O’Halloran. The ball fell to Wothersoon who steered a shot with pace from 25 yards into the net.

Bauer’s clumsy challenge on O’Halloran five minutes later brought the home side a penalty.

Wotherspoon‘s effort from the spot was more like a rugby conversion, clearing the bar by some distance and landing in the stand.

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