J-men hand PNE victory over Brig

John Welsh battles for the ball
John Welsh battles for the ball

Jordan Hugill and Josh Brownhill found the net to give Preston victory over Bamber Bridge in their annual pre-season meeting.

The game marked the official renaming of Brig’s home ground Irongate as the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, in honour of the North End legend who passed away in February.

Summer buy Hugill notched his first goal for the Lilywhites, heading home John Welsh’s free-kick early in the contest.

Brownhill, on as a second-half substitute, wrapped up victory from the penalty spot 12 minutes from time.

Ahead of the game, the teams were presented to Brian Finney, son of Sir Tom, as part of the renaming ceremony.

Kick-off had been delayed by 15 minutes after gridlock on the roads around Preston city centre had left many supporters on the last minute.

PNE lined-up in a 3-5-2 system, with Scott Wiseman, Ben Davies and Scott Laird at the back, with Chris Humphrey and Will Hayhurst the wing-backs.

It took North End only 11 minutes to get their noses in front.

Skipper Welsh whipped a free-kick from the inside left channel into the box, HUGILL escaping his marker to steer a header past Lee Dovey from close range.

Brig responded with a shot from Alistair Waddecar which clipped off a Preston boot and flew just beyond the far post.

Matty Lawlor then got on the end of a free-kick, but could not keep his header down and it went over the bar.

PNE carved out a decent number of chances in the last 20 minutes of the first half.

Jack Ryan’s chest down fell nicely to Hugill whose first-time volley from outside the box went inches wide.

On the half-hour mark, Humphrey’s mazy run took him past three Brig defenders, his low left-foot shot beating Dovey but coming back off the foot of the near post.

The busy Hugill twice went close to adding to his earlier goal, first meeting a Humphrey cross but putting his header just too high.

Then the former Port Vale front man connected with Keith Keane’s centre, again the ball travelling over the bar.

At the other end, a Matty Mahoney free-kick skimmed off the turf and into the gloves of keeper Steven James.

In the 41st minute, Laird’s cross was helped on by Hugill in the box to Ryan, the youngster’s turn and shot creeping just wide.

Both sides made changes at the interval, Nick Anderton and Josh Sampson replacing Wiseman and Hayhurst for PNE.

Early in the second half, a low shot from Ben Davies went wide from just outside the box.

With an hour played, Hugill got between the two home centre-backs to chase and meet a Joel Byrom pass.

He moved into the box but slightly off balance hit a left-foot shot too close to the keeper who saved comfortably.

Soon after, Ryan met a deep cross from Humphrey at the back post, his header back across goal bouncing inches wide.

Brig went mighty close to an equaliser in the 68th minute, Mark Buchan finding himself free in the box to meet a corner. But the substitute got slightly under his header and saw the ball just clear the bar.

The North End team got younger as the game went on, with all 11 players who finished the contest being teenagers,

Two of them though, Brownhill and Alan Browne, took the game by the scruff of the neck after joining the action and really stood out.

In the 75th minute, Browne’s ball out of the centre of midfield found Ryan down the left channel. He hit a rising right-foot shot which beat Dovey but went just over.

North End doubled their lead in the 78th minute, Anderton tripped by Lawlor as he tried to find his way down the left side of the box.

Premier League referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot, BROWNHILL doing the honours from 12 yards with a confidently-taken penalty.

The young midfielder was denied a second goal by Dovey soon after, the home keeper diving to his left to push out Brownhill’s 25-yard rasper.

And in the 85th minute, Dovey tipped another long-range Brownhill effort against the top of the bar and over.