Striker Sean Maguire relieved to see return of Preston North End fans
Sean Maguire has spoken of his delight at playing in front of the Preston North End supporters again.
Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers at Lancashire FA headquarters was the first time PNE fans had seen their side play live since March 2020.
The County Ground was packed for the friendly, with both teams selling out their ticket allocation.
Maguire played 67 minutes of the clash, making way when head coach Frankie McAvoy changed all the outfield players.
“It was really nice to play in front of a packed little stadium,” Maguire told the Lancashire Post
“We’re talking 16 months or so since we last had our fans at a ground.
“At Celtic last Saturday there were probably a similar amount of fans inside a very big stadium.
“This felt a lot more, with 50/50 in terms of fans in the ground, Preston fans one side and Bolton the other.
“The experience should gear us up for the games we have in the next few weeks.”
Only twice last season did PNE play in front of a crowd, at Norwich and Luton.
Norwich last September was a pilot game with 1,000 home fans let in.
December’s trip to Luton came when the tier system was in use – Luton had 2,000 supporters in.
Last week in Scotland, St Johnstone were permitted 1,000 of their fans against PNE, while Celtic had 2,000.
Having a crowd at Leyland perhaps added to the game getting a touch feisty for a spell in the second half.
North End youngster Lewis Leigh caught Bolton’s Gethin Jones with a robust challenge, provoking a strong reaction from Jones.
Second-year scholar Leigh, 17, got a yellow card for the foul, Jones the same punishment for reacting.
Maguire was one of the players who got involved in the ‘afters’, running some distance to get to the scene.
The Republic of Ireland striker said: “I didn’t like the reaction, someone grabbing a 17-year-old – that is why you saw that reaction from me.
“Lewis is only a young fella learning his trade. It was a good tackle but he followed through.
“These last two-and-a-half weeks is the first time I’ve been with him and I think Lewis is going to have a really good career.
“He played at St Johnstone and in this one, he’s only going to get better and better.
“The way he is around the lads, it’s as if he has an older head on his shoulders.
PNE’s friendly at Manchester City next Tuesday will be behind closed doors. City have had Covid cases at their academy and don’t want to risk fans being on site.