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Season 2017-18
Preston North End (a)


Saturday 22nd July 2017, 3.00pm


Conditions: mostly sunny

Admission: £10 adults

£1 for a slim volume


Preston North End

Newcastle United

1 - 1




8 mins A left wing cross from Rolando Aarons was cleared to the edge of the box and when Paul Dummett's curling effort was palmed out by Chris Maxwell, Aleksandar Mitrovic easily tucked it home in front of the sparsely-populated Town end 1-0

33 mins Florian Lejeune failed to head clear Gregg Cunningham's cross from PNE's left flank and the ball dropped nicely for Tom Barkhuizen to volley in from six yards. 1-1

Half time: Lilywhites 1 Magpies 1

Full time: Lilywhites 1 Magpies 1

We Said


Rafa Benitez said:

The fitness is quite important. You can see that they (Preston, who start their league season a week earlier than us) were a little bit more sharp. 

"Still, the understanding between players and the tactical work, we have to improve....physically, we were not at the level we were expecting, and also we were not playing at the tempo we were expecting.

"We are trying to change some players. We have to wait to see the right offers, and then after we will see if we can add some players.

"I think we need some more players. I wouldnít say how many, but it also depends on the market. Mike convinced me he would give us the last penny of the money available.

"We are not asking for more, we are asking for the money we can use. We can generate some more money. Hopefully, we can do that.

"We have too many players now, so not all of these players can have a future at the club.

"We have too many now, and we need 25 players. I donít know about those leaving because it depends on other clubs, but we continue to monitor every situation.

ďWith Jacob Murphy, we were looking for some wingers with some pace, and he can give us that. 

Javier Manquillo - heís a player that can play in both positions. We needed some cover for the full-backs, so I think he has to improve from last season, but he has the potential.

"We have three keepers and we had to give them some time.
We couldnít leave one person on the bench, because after one week I think they all needed to play.Ē


They Said

Alex Neil said: 

"I thought it was a great performance.

"The only thing that disappointed me was that in the first 15 minutes we looked like we lacked a bit of belief in what we were doing. Maybe that was because of the calibre of the opposition.

"Once we settled down and made a few passes, we were fine - it was good to see them react to conceding a goal.

"I thought all in all, it was a great test for us and we really held our own.

"I think at the start of the match in the first 15 minutes we looked a bit tentative and a bit scared because we were playing Newcastle, but then I thought we grew in confidence as the first half wore on, and I thought our best spell was leading up to half-time really.

"It was a big step-up in opposition for us but it finished one each and to be honest, I donít think anyone would have grumbled had we gone on and won the game.

"The game was quite evenly matched and we were really pleased with how our lads played. The good thing is that they seem to be getting hold of how we want to play, some of our football was excellent.

"Itís about being brave enough to play against good players. No disrespect to the teams weíve played but we are playing against international players that have got real quality but I thought we more than held our own.

"We opened a really good team up and created chances. Iíve no complaints whatsoever, the boys tried really hard and some of them played really well.Ē


Rafa Benitez handed debuts to Jacob Murphy and Javier Manquillo following their arrivals from Norwich City and Atletico Madrid respectively in recent days.

As was the case at Hearts
a week earlier
, United utilised 22 players, with messrs Saivet, Gamez, Lascelles, Haidara, Lazaar and Armstrong all omitted from those who featured at Tynecastle. 

In came Murphy (wearing 7), Manquillo (in 12) and Callum Roberts (clad in 36), while Isaac Hayden (14), Karl Darlow (26) and DeAndre Yedlin (22) also appeared, sported unchanged numbers from last season.

Matt Ritchie was again absent
while a minor injury saw Lascelles present but not involved.

Mitrovic made it three goals from two visits
adding to the brace he bagged against the Lilywhites at St. James' in the League Cup. The Serb didn't net in the 4-1 promotion-clincher despite playing the full game.

North End were familiar opponents last season, with a 2-1 Championship away victory in October coming just days after our 6-0 win on Tyneside in the League Cup. 
A 4-1 success at SJP in April then officially confirmed our return to the Premier League.

Former Magpie Paul Huntington appeared against his former side, but teenage prospect Josh Earl - linked with a move to United in recent days - remained an unused substitute for PNE.

United wore their blue change kit for the first time at senior team level, but were forced to wear different socks of a darker blue than
will be usual, in order to avoid a clash with the home side. 

Have Diame and Atsu got lasses' tights on? (Nora Batty's in the latter case)

Pre-season pitch time:

Aarons 45+45=90
Armstrong 28+0=28
Atsu 45+45=90
Clark 45+45=90
Colback 28+45=73
Darlow 0+24=24
De Jong 75+62=137
Diame 62+45=107
Dummett 45+45
Elliot 63+45=108
Gamez 45
Gayle 45+45
Haidara 62+0=62
Hanley 28+45=73
Hayden 0+45=45
Lascelles 45+0=45
Lazaar 15+0=15
Lejeune 45+76=121
Manquillo 0+14=14
Mbemba 62+90=152
Mitrovic 45+45
Murphy 0+45=45
Perez 45+45
Roberts 0+28=28
Saivet 45+0=45
Shelvey 45+45
Woodman 27+20=47
Yedlin 0+45=45


Aleksandar Mitrovic got another goal at Deepdale but Rafa Benitez's Premier League side were held by their Championship opponents on Saturday afternoon in what was a forgettable encounter.

Mitro had bagged the brace that secured three points here last season and he pounced once again to give United an early lead, only for Tom Barkhuizen to fire the home side level before half time.

There were debuts for Jacob Murphy and Javier Manquillo and the blue away kit had its maiden first team unveiling but little of real interest on the field from a low-key afternoon, with the inevitable gaggle of substitutions combined with a multiplicity of positional changes.

Chancel Mbemba started at right back once again, while Ciaran Clark took over from Paul Dummett at left back after the interval as Mbemba had a spell in the centre alongside Lejeune. 

Ciaran then subsequently partnered Mbemba as winger Callum Roberts dropped to left back - the fact that the DR Congo international was the only one to complete 90 minutes raising questions about whether prospective new employers were present to see him put through his paces.

Both new boys were introduced from the bench meanwhile, Murphy initially down the right side and then on the opposite flank (emphasising his two-footedness) following the arrival of Manquillo in the outside right position.

There was also the comparatively rare sight of three goalkeepers seeing service, with Elliot given the opening half before Karl Darlow appeared for the second period - only to be relieved in turn by Freddie Woodman for the closing 20 minutes. It was later confirmed that was all intentional.

Having opened the scoring early on at Hearts last week, Rafa's side almost repeated the feat when 
Siem de Jong saw his shot tipped over in just the second minute of play. 

Mitro then missed the chance to get his and our second of the game on 27 minutes, chesting down a Christian Atsu corner and firing back across goal, but pinging his effort off the far post.

Emboldened by their equaliser though, the home side then came close to going in at the break with the lead, Mbemba doing enough to unsettle Jordan Hugill at the back post as the ball zipped across.

With no fewer than eight substitutions at the interval, one of them, Dwight Gayle, was close to scoring twice in the 54th minute - a first time shot saved before heading onto the roof of the net from the next attack.

De Jong had another effort tipped over on the hour after Jack Colback and Murphy combined to set up the Dutchman, but other than a fine volley from Mbemba after a corner, a Magpies winner never looked likely. 

Led by Alex Neil on home territory for the first time, North End could have claimed a top-flight scalp, but Woodman was equal to an effort from Marnik Vermijl before the full time whistle sounded.

More years than we care to recall of watching meaningless matches like this have taught us to reserve judgment and ignore scorelines, but with three weeks to go before the real stuff, an inordinate amount of work remains to be done before curtain up.

Lazaar and Saivet may have melted away, but watching Hanley playing at his (Championship) level here along with that mediocre trio of trundlers Diame, Colback and De Jong remains uninspiring. 

If this was a cricket team, it's reasonable to suggest that we'd have a long tail at this point.   

Absent today was reader Gavin Haigh, who inexplicably preferred 
to go on honeymoon rather than entertain his new bride in downtown Preston.  

Congratulations to him and Lynn - although we're unsure just how thrilled she 
is with her wedding present - or getting hitched in an adventure playground...   


Page last updated 13 June, 2018