St Johnstone 1 Preston North End 1 match report: Honours even at McDiarmid Park

Ben Whiteman found the net in Preston North End's draw with double Scottish cup winners St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 9:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 9:10 pm

The midfielder produced a fine finish in the 35th minute, sending a curling shot from outside the box into the net off the underside of the bar.

Whiteman's goal gave the Lilywhites the lead in Perth, one they only managed to hold until the 50th minute when David Wotherspoon equalised for the home side after a mistake from PNE keeper Mathew Hudson.

Wotherspoon missed a penalty soon after his equaliser, blazing his spot kick over the bar,

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Ben Whiteman scored Preston North End's goal against St Johnstone

This was PNE's first friendly of their week's visit to Scotland, with Celtic next up on Saturday at Celtic Park.

North End started in a 3-5-2 system, Sepp van den Berg, Patrick Bauer and Josh Earl operating in the back three, flanked by wing-backs Matthew Olosunde and Joe Rafferty.

It was Olosunde's first game in a Preston shirt after his Bosman move from Rotherham.

Second-year scholar Lewis Leigh got another start in midfield after performing well against Bamber Bridge at the weekend.

The opening 20 minutes of the game were bossed by St Johnstone who featured former PNE striker Stevie May in their attack.

Hudson pulled off a good save in the 17th minute to push away Ali McCann's shot from 12 yards after Bauer's attempted clearance on the stretch had fallen into his path.

May's follow-up effort was blocked, with a third Saints shot deflecting wide for a corner.

The visitors looked rather leggy to start but started finding their stride as the first half went on.

PNE's first chance of the game came in the 28th minute, Bauer lifting a ball forward from the back which Josh Harrop chased down the left hand side of the box.

Harrop checked on to his right foot and hit a low shot which Saints keeper Zander Clark got down to well to block.

North End found the net in the 35th minute with the first moment of real quality in the contest.

Whiteman took possession 25 yards out and curled a right-foot shot under the keeper and into the net off the underside of the bar.

As PNE grew in confidence after the goal, Olosunde got underneath a Rafferty cross and looped a header over the bar at the far post.

Just before half-time Whiteman almost netted again, his free-kick from the edge of the 'D' well parried by Clark diving to his right.

The rebound fell Harrop's way but his header went over the bar.

Tom Barkhuizen and Brad Potts joined the action as half-time substitutes, replacing Olosunde and Harrop.

St Johnstone equalised within five minutes of the restart, capitalising on an error from Hudson.

The North End keeper came out of his box to make a clearance which got blocked, the ball falling to Wotherspoon who curled a fine shot from 25 yards into the net past Rafferty who had got back on the line.

Wotherspoon was then to miss a much simpler chance to give the home side the lead in the 55th minute.

The Saints striker was clipped by Bauer as they chased a ball into the box, the referee pointing to the penalty spot.

Up stepped Wotherspoon to the spot and lifted the penalty high over the bar.

North End made seven substitutions at the hour mark, in addition to the two changes made at the interval.

It left Rafferty and Hudson as the only two starters at that stage.

Jordan Storey hadn't been on long when he got on the end of a Ryan Ledson free-kick delivered into the box from the left, his header going over.

With 77 minutes on the clock, Barkhuizen chased a ball behind the home defence on the left-wing.

He hung a cross up to the far post which Ched Evans met but headed over.

Rafferty came off with 11 minutes remaining, the last of the outfield starters to depart, first-year scholar Seary replacing him in the right wing-back slot.

St Johnstone: Clark, Kerr, Gordon, McCart, (Devine 61) Rooney (Brown 61), O'Halloran (Kucheriavyi 88), Davidson (Muller 61), McCann (Northcott 72), Booth (Craig 61), May (Hendry 61), Wotherspoon (Ballantyne 72).

PNE: Hudson, van den Berg (Storey 61), Bauer (Lindsay 61), Earl (Cunningham 61), Olosunde (Barkhuizen 46), Whiteman (Ledson 61), Harrop (Potts 46), Leigh (Bayliss 61), Rafferty (Seary 79), Maguire (Evans 61), Riis (SInclair 61).

Attendance: 1,000