Fleetwood Town 1 Preston North End 0 - Ash Hunter gives Joey Barton's side victory at Highbury

Fleetwood Town rounded-off their pre-season programme with victory over Preston North End at Highbury.

Friday, 26th July 2019, 11:25 pm
Fleetwood left-back Danny Andrew tackles Preston midfielder Ryan Ledson

Substitute Ash Hunter hit the winner in the 59th minute, running on to a through ball from Harry Souttar to send a shot past North End keeper Connor Ripley with the help of a deflection.

It was no more than Joey Barton's men deserved with them the better side for spells, especially in the second half.

Hunter had come off the bench early in the game for summer signing Josh Morris was had been carried off on a stretcher after a collision with PNE right-back Darnell Fisher.

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That is obviously a concern for Town with the new season only a week away.

Barton used 21 players during the game, giving young goalkeeper Billy Crellin a run-out for the last half hour.

While opponents Preston were not at full strength - they play Newcastle United on Saturday - there were still experienced Championship players in their side.

Fleetwood threatened first with Harrison Biggins getting behind the Preston defence on the left and pulling the ball back into the path of Wes Burns who managed to lift a first-time shot over the bar and indeed over the stand roof and out of the ground.

Graham Burke saw a shot well blocked by Peter Clarke after Stockley had headed down Josh Earl's cross into his path.

A challenge between Morris and Fisher saw the Fleetwood man stay down and after a few minutes delay, was carried off on a stretcher.

Shortly after that, Burke was booked for a lunge at Conor McAleny as they went for a loose ball near the half-way line.

Just before the half hour mark, Hunter came inside off the left-wing and hit a low shot from the edge of the box which Connor Ripley dived to parry and hold at the second attempt.

Burke who played with as much purpose as any North End player in the first half, clipped a volley inches too high after Stockley had headed Johnson's cross to him.

Hunter got the first-half's second yellow three minutes before the break for a foul on Fisher, both players having nibbled away at one another since Hunter had come on.

The final action before the interval saw Jordan Rossiter volley just over the bar after a corner had been cleared as far as him a couple of yards outside the box.

Burke had North End's first sight of goal in the second half, driving a free-kick from 25 yards over the bar.

Fleetwood took the lead in the 59th minute after Ryan Ledson was dispossessed by Souttar in midfield.

Souttar took the ball on a few strides before slipping a pass through to Hunter who finished with a low shot past the advancing Ripley.

The hosts threatened again with a low shot from Burns which Ripley dived to hold comfortably.

Preston came close to an equaliser in the 66th minute, Burke's low shot from the edge of the box pushed past the post by substitute keeper Billy Crellin.

Johnson tested Crellin with an effort from outside the box, his low shot held by the youngster.

Fleetwood: Cairns (Crellin 61), Coyle (Sheron 73), Souttar, Clarke (Eastham 61), Andrew (Southam-Hales 73), Coutts (Rydel 73), Rossiter (Mooney 73), Biggins (Sowerby 61), Burns (Baggley 73), Morris (Hunter 23), McAleny (Madden 61).

PNE: Ripley, Fisher (Rafferty 73), Storey, Huntington, Earl, Ledson, Johnson, Burke (O'Reilly 83), Nugent, (Moult 46) Harrop, Stockley. Subs (not used): Simpson, Walker, Armer, Crowe.

Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)