Wigan Athletic 3 Preston North End 2 match report: PNE beaten at the DW Stadium

Preston North End slipped to defeat against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium in their last public outing before the start of the 2021/22 season.

Preston North End celebrate their goal against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium
Preston North End celebrate their goal against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium

While it was far from the side which is likely to start the Championship opener against Hull City on August, the Lilywhites will have been disappointed to lose against League One opposition.

Frankie McAvoy's men played some decent football in the first half but trailed at the break to a 26th minute goal from former PNE loan striker Will Keane.

They levelled things up early in the second half, Wigan right-back Tendayi Darikwa turning a Scott Sinclair cross into his own net under pressure from Sepp van den Berg.

Sepp van den Berg celebrates PNE's goal

But the game got away from North End as Stephen Humphrys restored the home side's lead and then Callum Lang found the net with a free-kick.

PNE substitute Joe Rodwell-Grant pulled a goal back three minutes from time, the first-year professional running clear on to Tom Bayliss' through ball to finish well.

They couldn't force an equaliser though, the closest they came being a Jos Earl header which flew over in stoppage-time.

North End had switched formation for the tip down the M6, with them operating with a flat back four and a midfield diamond.

PNE right-back Joe Rafferty in action against Wigan

Sepp van den Berg partnered Patrick Bauer in the centre of defence, with Joe Rafferty at right-back and Earl on the left.

Skipper Alan Browne anchored midfield, with Josh Harrop, Sinclair and Bayliss rotating in front of him.

Trialist Jamie Thomas played off striker Sean Maguire in an attacking looking system.

PNE bossed the opening stages, Thomas' deflected shot forcing Wigan goalkeeper Ben Amos to make a fine one-handed save in the ninth minute - Amos having to change direction to make the save.

Joe Rodwell-Grant celebrates scoring North End's second goal at Wigan

Maguire's shot on the turn from Sinclair's low cross was blocked by a defender, then Earl headed over the bar after Bauer had nodded Harrop's corner across goal.

So it was almost out of the blue that the red-clad home side took a 26thminute lead.

Darikwa delivered a low cross from the right which Keane met first time with a smart first-time finish, steering it into the bottom corner past Mathew Hudson.

With their tails up Wigan threatened again, their trialist wearing the No. shirt forcing Hudson to save with his legs at the far post after Max Power's searching cross had found him.

The PNE keeper then had to dive low to his left to hold on to Luke Robinson's shot after the left-back had cut inside from the flank.

A double save from Amos prevented North End an equaliser five minutes before half-time.

Harrop's right foot shot from the left corner of the box saw Amos dive to tip if away and when Sinclair returned the ball into the middle, Thomas saw a shot blocked by the keeper.

North End pulled level within three minutes of the re-start, Thomas threading a fine pass through the Wigan defence to find Sinclair in the box to the right of goal.

Sinclair drilled the ball across the box, Darikwa turning it into his own net at the far post under pressure from van den Berg.

Soon after, van den Berg met a Harrop free-kick with a header at the far post which Amos reached up to tip behind.

Parity lasted only until the 54th minute when Wigan regained the lead, Humphrys scoring at the second attempt after a scramble in the box

Browne gave way to Lewis Leigh after an hour, it a pre-planned substitution by the looks of it as the skipper continued his comeback after a summer hip operation.

Wigan made it 3-1 in the 69th minute, substitute Lang's striding run out of midfield halted by Bauer's foul three yards outside the box.

Lang took the free-kick, sending it over the wall and past Hudson.

Thomas' night ended in the 73rd minute with him replaced by Rodwell-Grant. He hadn't looked out of place at all in the game, his work rate and footwork catching the eye.

Harrop went close with two free-kicks six minutes apart, the first clearing the bar by inches, the second travelling inches wide of the angle of bar and post.

At the other end Lang saw a deflected shot clip the top of the bar on its way over, before North End cut the deficit in the 87th minute.

Bayliss' through ball sent Rodwell-Grant clear, the teenager keeping a calm head to move towards the edge of the box and steer a right-foot finish low past Amos into the far corner.

Wigan: Amos, Darikwa (Trialist 80), Naylor (Smith 86), Whatmough (Aasgaard 76), Robinson, Long (McHugh 86), Trialist (Lang 55), Power (Lloyd 87), Humphrys (Carragher 76), Keane (Massey 65), Wyke (Costello 87). Sub (not used) Jones.

PNE: Hudson, Rafferty, van den Berg, Bauer, Earl, Browne (Leigh 61), Bayliss, Harrop, Thomas (Rodwell-Grant 73), SInclair, Maguire. Subs (not used): O'Neill, Walker, Williams, Seary, Nevin, Ripley.

Referee: Darren Bond

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