Fleetwood Town’s Under-18s were narrowly defeated in their first pre-season friendly of the summer against Preston North End, with the hosts winning 2-1 at Springfields.
In the first match of the young Cods' pre-season schedule, it was the hosts who took the lead midway through the half, with the Lilywhites doubling their lead in the second half.
Town reacted well on both occasions and managed to get one back with just under 10 minutes to go on the clock and, even though they created chances until the final whistle, Preston managed to hold on to their lead.
The match started off at frantic pace, with Preston having the first opportunity in the game, which saw Fleetwood’s trialist goalkeeper deny the opening goal with a fine save to his right-hand side.
With 15 minutes on the clock, the match did settle down; both sets of players were getting on the ball on the floor and enjoying spells of possession, especially so with the sun beating down in Lancashire.
It was the hosts who scored the first goal of the game, and it came with a lovely move down the left-flank and with a well-timed cross and run inside the box, it was a close-range header for the North End striker to bag his first of the campaign.
Town reacted well and should have made things level with 24 minutes gone. Defender Roman Khela found himself inside the 18-yard box with the ball at his feet, but with his effort on target, it was timely blocked by the hosts.
Theo Butterworth – a first-year scholar who has come through the Academy – was on hand to deny Preston North End doubling their lead. The centre-half read the game well and without his last-ditch block, it would have been 2-0 with their striker lurking just behind, waiting for that tap-in.
It was another first-year scholar, George Morrison, who tried his luck on goal next, and like Khela’s effort, his shot at goal was blocked but this time by the goalkeeper between the sticks.
With the match becoming more open as time went on, it was Preston who doubled their lead just before the hour mark. It was a fantastic solo effort with Rio Cragg rooted to the spot with the effort struck early.
Changes were made in both camps as the clock struck 70 minutes, and momentum fell Fleetwood’s way and it was Roberts who found the back of the net after Dom Richmond found the winger on the left-hand side. Just what Town deserved for their efforts!
Kayden Hughes rattled the post from 25-yards with three minutes left on the clock, but as the clock struck 90 minutes, the referee blew his whistle for full-time, seeing Preston come away winners with a 2-1 lead.
A great workout for both the Lancashire sides, with Fleetwood now travelling to Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday for their second match of pre-season.
Town’s Starting XI: Trialist (GK), Khela, Johnson (C), Butterworth, Hand, Jones, Fletcher, Morrison, King, Richmond, Clarke.
Used Subs: Cragg (GK), Woodward (GK), Kearns, Namputu, Daha, Hughes, Lane, Roberts.