The long wait is over as Preston North End fans FINALLY get to watch their team

Preston North End should finally get the chance to play in front of their own fans tonight when they take on Bolton at Leyland’s County Ground.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 8:00 am

In terms of playing to a crowd, the Lilywhites have been rather lonesome for the last 16 months.

For the whole of last season and the back end of the 2019/20 campaign, they played in empty stadiums.

North End should have had the company of their fans at Bamber Bridge a week last Saturday, only for the Brig pitch to flood and force the game behind closed doors at the Euxton training ground.

PNE head coach Frankie McAvoy during the victory at Celtic

The games in Scotland against St Johnstone and Celtic were home supporters only and in limited numbers.

Hence an air of excitement at facing Bolton at Lancashire FA headquarters (7pm).

North End quickly sold out their initial 600 allocation for the friendly and were given an extra 500 tickets.

PNE head coach Frankie McAvoy said: “It was great at St Johnstone and Celtic to have a few of their fans there, it gave a bit of an atmosphere.

“I can’t wait to see the Preston fans get behind the team and for us to let them see what they have got.

“We’re pleased with what we have done in pre-season so far and having the fans there will be another step forward.”

McAvoy tried to balance out the amount of game time for the squad in the first three friendlies.

Two separate XIs got 45 minutes against Bamber Bridge. At St Johnstone, most of the starting team played an hour before coming off.

In the main, the players were reversed for Saturday’s victory at Celtic.

Ben Whiteman was the only player to start both games in Scotland and the midfielder netted in both.

There could be the chance for some outfield players to push beyond the hour mark tonight to boost their match sharpness.

The friendlies continue at Accrington on Saturday, before PNE play Manchester City a week tonight.

On Friday July 30, they go to Wigan, then the following day Manchester United are the visitors to Deepdale.

Alan Browne could get his first run-out of the pre-season this evening.

The skipper had to rest a long-standing injury during the summer and has been eased back since the players reported back.

Browne trained with the squad in Scotland but was not risked in the games.

Said McAvoy: “Alan has been training which is good and the next thing is to get him some minutes.

“We might get the younger boys involved too. At Celtic Josh Seary got on near the end but it was difficult getting Lewis Leigh and Noah Mawene on.”