Match report: Swansea City 1 Preston North End 0

Preston North End went down to defeat against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium despite dominating the second half.

Saturday, 11th August 2018, 6:04 pm
Updated Monday, 13th August 2018, 11:40 am
Declan Rudd saves Oli McBurnie's penalty

Poor in the first half, North End were much improved after the interval and laid siege to the hosts' goal, keeping the pressure on right up until the final whistle.

But a string of chances went begging, new boy Lukas Nmecha forcing a smart save from the hosts substitute goalkeeper Erwin Mulder.

The game's only goal came in the 33rd minute, Jay Fulton heading a Joel Asoro cross over Declan Rudd and into the roof of the net.

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Lukas Nmecha

Rudd had earlier saved a penalty, pushing Oli McBurnie's penalty round the post.

In the second half, there were close on a dozen chances created by North End but the pressure was to no avail as the long wait for a win in Swansea continued - PNE haven't won in this neck of South Wales since the 1961/62 campaign.

Nmecha's inclusion up front after just one training session following his arrival on loan from Manchester City was the only change to the starting XI which featured against Queens Park Rangers last week.

The 19-year-old got the nod ahead of Louis Moult in a 4-2-3-1 system, Alan Browne playing deeper alongside Ben Pearson.

Darnell Fisher rides a challenge

After a bright opening in which they pressed the hosts well, North End started to find themselves on the back foot as Swansea move them around with their slick passing game.

They conceded a penalty in the 10th minute when Barrie McKay went to ground on the left hand side of the box under a challenge from Browne, referee James Linington pointing to the spot after a moment or two of thought.

McBurnie stepped up and hit the penalty low towards the bottom corner, Rudd diving to his low to push it past the post.

Swansea lost keeper Kristoppfer Nordfeldt in the 17th minute having pulled up after taking a free-kick - Mulder coming off the bench after a slight delay.

Alan Browne challenges Bersant Celina

Chances were limited in the first period for PNE, a first-time shot from Josh Harrop disappearing over the bar after Darnell Fisher's low cross had skidded through to him on the edge of the box.

They fell behind in the 33rd minute after defending a free-kick delivered from the left-wing - Fisher earning a yellow card for the foul on McKay which led to it.

The ball was played to Asoro on the far side of the pitch, his cross met on the corner of the six-yard box by Fulton who stole ahead of Ben Davies to send a header over Rudd into the roof of the net.

Swansea came close to a second within two minutes, Asoro cutting into the box from the right channel and seeing his shot blocked by Rudd's outstretched foot at the near post.

In first-half stoppage-time, a free-kick from Martin Olsson stayed low but went wide of the far post.

North End came out for the second half and looked much more up with the pace of the game.

Tom Barkhuizen had the ball in the net in the 52nd minute but the effort was ruled out as he handled bringing down Andrew Hughes' cross into the box.

Three chances followed in the space of as many minutes, the first coming from Callum Robinson's right-footed cross from the left which Nmecha met with a glancing header which dropped just wide of the far post.

Barkhuizen spun his marker to run on to a Browne pass and send a low shot across the face of the goal and wide, while Harrop's drive from the edge of the box forced Mulder to dive and parry.

Just past the hour, Robinson's shot from 20 yards caught a wicked deflection off a defender and dropped just the wrong side of the target with the keeper wrong-footed.

Graham Burke came off the bench to replace Harrop in the 62nd minute for his Preston debut, taking up the No.10 role.

At the other end, Rudd gave away an unnecessary corner when trying to play out from the back, redeeming himself with a good save to push Bersant Celina's shot into the side-netting after the corner had been played short.

North End continued to knock on the door and almost found an equaliser in the 67th minute, Robinson's fine reverse pass playing Nmecha in behind the Swansea defence on the left side of the box.

The teenager got a shot away which Mulder stretched up a glove to fingertip over the bar.

Brandon Barker joined the fray for his PNE bow in the 72nd minute as a replacement for Barkhuizen, taking up position on the left-wing.

Chances continued to come, Burke warming Mulder's gloves with a shot from the side of the box, then Robinson sent a header too high.

With 76 minutes played, an under hit back pass almost let in Nmecha through on goal but the keeper got there ahead of him to kick clear - Nmecha perhaps needing a touch more conviction when pressurising Mulder.

As North End pushed forward, they were almost caught on the counter-attack in the 80th minute when McBurnie rode Tom Clarke's challenge and got through on goal, the striker lifting his shot over Rudd and over the bar.

In the closing stages it was all Preston as the home side dropped deep to defend their box, something they succeeded doing.

Swansea: Nordfeldt (Mulder 22), Roberts, van der Hoorn, Rodon, Olsson, Fulton, Celina, Carroll, McKay, (Fer 74) Asoro (Grimes 56), McBurnie. Subs (not used): Montero, Dyer, Naughton, Dhanda.

PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Clarke, Davies, Hughes, Pearson, Barkhuizen (Barker 72), Browne, Harrop (Burke 62), Robinson, Nmecha (Gallagher 80). Subs (not used): Huntington, Ledson, Moult, Maxwell.

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)