REPORT: PNE Reserves 3 Wanderers Reserves 0

Liam Edwards successfully came through 45 minutes as he made a long-awaited return to action.

Edwards has battled back from a serious knee injury which has kept him out since the end of January, 2020.

And a first-half run-out for the Reserves at Euxton represented another major step forward on his comeback trail.

The central defender couldn’t help a youthful line-up suffering a first defeat Central League defeat of the season.

But his re-appearance was one of a number of plus-points for the side overseen by Academy manager Mark Litherland.

Trailing 2-0 at the break, Wanderers had been second best to a North End side captained by the vastly experienced Paul Huntington and including ex-Wanderers' youngster Jamie Thomas.

But the Whites responded impressively after half-time and didn’t go down without a fight before Preston made sure of the points with a late third goal.

Edwards got valuable game-time into his legs and was involved early on with a vital block to keep out an effort from Jacob Holland-Wilkinson.

Preston first goal.JPG

Wanderers’ trialist keeper also had to be alert to make a couple of decent saves, including one from a rising Thomas effort.

But he couldn’t stop North End going ahead with almost half an hour gone when Michael O’Neill swept in a cross from summer signing Matthew Olasunde on his own comeback mission.

The hosts then quickly doubled their lead when the powerful figure of Joe Rodwell-Grant hooked the ball home after Huntington had nodded down a corner.

But Wanderers, whose best first-half effort had been a strike from Arran Pettifer which went just over the bar, looked a different proposition after the break.

The Whites saw much more of the ball as they looked to force the issue.

And they would have had a route back into the game had they pulled a goal back from an excellent opening 10 minutes after the re-start.

Mitch Henry – who like Pettifer had a taste of senior action in the Papa John’s Trophy earlier this month – was far more involved.

And when the wingman pinched possession just outside the penalty area he went close with a low drive which Mathew Hudson could only parry to Matthew Tweedley, who sent the rebound against the foot of a post.

Wanderers kept pressing but couldn’t find a way through, Sonny Sharples going closest with an effort from a tight angle he couldn’t steer goalwards.

And with 10 minutes to go North End wrapped up their first league win when a deflected effort from Adam O’Reilly looped into the net.

Wanderers: Trialist; Burgess, Edwards (Halford HT), Toure, Conway; Pettifer, Sharples, Tweedley; Olawumi, McEvoy (Jones HT), Henry. Substitutes: Alexander, Kamara, Frimpong.

Preston: Hudson; Olasunde (Nevin 60), Huntington, Blanchard (Mfuni 84), Coulton; Holland-Wilkinson (Cross-Adair 73), Leigh (Lewis 82), Thomas, O’Neill; O’Reilly, Rodwell-Grant. Substitutes: Pradic.

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