Date: Saturday 22nd July 2017, 3.00pm
Conditions: mostly sunny
Admission: £10 adults
Programme: £1 for a slim volume
Preston North End
1 - 1
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
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
Lilywhites 1 Magpies 1
Full time: Lilywhites 1 Magpies 1
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 wouldn’t 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 don’t know about
those leaving because it depends on other clubs, but we continue to monitor
“With Jacob Murphy, we were looking for some wingers with some pace, and
he can give us that.
"Javier Manquillo - he’s 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
couldn’t leave one person on the bench, because after one week I think they
all needed to play.”
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 don’t think anyone would have grumbled had we gone on and won the
"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.
"It’s about being brave enough to play against good players. No disrespect to
the teams we’ve 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. I’ve no complaints
whatsoever, the boys tried really hard and some of them played really well.”
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
Matt Ritchie was again absent while a minor injury saw Lascelles
present but not involved.
Mitrovic made it three goals from two visits here,
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.
and Atsu got lasses' tights on? (Nora Batty's in the latter case)
Pre-season pitch time:
De Jong 75+62=137
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.
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.
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
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
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 NUFC.com reader Gavin Haigh, who inexplicably
to go on honeymoon rather than entertain his new bride in downtown
Congratulations to him and Lynn - although we're unsure just how thrilled
is with her wedding present - or getting hitched in an adventure