Fleetwood Town ended their pre-season campaign with a 5-1 home defeat to Sky Bet Championship side Preston North End.
Uwe Rosler’s side had led after 16 minutes through a Cian Bolger header, but goals from Paul Huntington, Tom Barkhuizen, a Daniel Johnson penalty, Daryl Horgan and a Lewie Coyle own goal ensured North End sealed the win.
Rosler changed all 11 players from the midweek pre-season defeat to Tranmere Rovers, with George Glendon partnering Kyle Dempsey at the heart of the midfield. Former Cod Army loanee Ben Davies was named as a substitute by Lilywhites boss Alex Neil.
It was the visitors who started the game better, with the lively Sean Maguire rattling Alex Cairns’ left hand post just seven minutes in.
Bobby Grant saw a shot blocked by Huntington which forced a corner. From which Glendon’s floated delivery was headed in by Bolger. A trademark goal from last season.
High pressing from Conor McAleny forced a North End error, which Jordy Hiwula almost profited from by Mat Hudson saved well from close range.
Preston kept the ball well and built pressure as the half went on, but frustratingly for Town their goal came with the last kick of the ball. A corner routine was worked to Callum Robinson whose cross was turned home by the head of Huntington. All square at the break.
The second half started like the first – with North End hitting Cairns’ woodwork. Alan Browne tried his luck from all of 40 yards, and his effort cannoned back off the crossbar.
But the visitors did get their goal. A slick move ended with Barkhuizen through on goal, and he expertly rounded Cairns and passed the ball home.
Dempsey went close for Town as they looked for a response, but his effort from 25 yards went well past Hudson’s post.
The game was wrapped up when Nathan Pond fouled Maguire for a penalty. Johnson stepped up and slotted home from 12 yards.
Substitute Horgan then scored PNE’s second goal in four minutes to complete the victory.
It was an unfortunate end to the game as the ball came back off Coyle from Josh Harrop’s shot and went past Cairns.
Town begin their 2017/18 Sky Bet League One season at home to Rotherham United next Saturday.
Town: Cairns, Coyle, Bell, Eastham, Pond, Bolger, Glendon, Dempsey, Grant, McAleny, Hiwula. Subs: Crellin, Nirennold, Rodgers, Cole, Burns, Godswill, Hunter, Schwabl.
PNE: Hudson, Cunningham, Pearson, Browne, Johnson, Fisher, Spurr, Huntington, Maguire, Barkhuizen, Robinson. Subs: Vermijl, Boyle, Horgan, Harrop, Doyle, Grimshaw, Pringle, Davies, O’Connor, Roberts, Earl.