Preston 2-1 Hearts21 July 2022
Former Jambo Ben Woodburn fired the hosts ahead in the first half before a Peter Haring penalty levelled the scores shortly after the hour mark. Substitute Alan Browne then grabbed the winner with 15 minutes to spare as the hosts sealed a narrow victory at Deepdale.
New arrival Lawrence Shankland watched on from the stands as the Jambos started with a front line of Barrie McKay, Alan Forrest and Liam Boyce.
The Jambos pressed high up the park during the early stages but it was the hosts who nearly had a sniff at goal on 9 minutes. A misplaced Alex Cochrane passed sent ex-Jambo Woodburn racing in on goal but the former recovered well and denied his former teammate with a well-timed tackle.
The hosts gradually grew into the game, dominating possession in spells without ever really troubling the maroon defence.
Instead it was the boys in maroon who nearly found themselves ahead on 38 minutes when Boyce and McKay combined, resulting in the Northern Irish frontman forcing a fine save from Woodman from 10 yards out.
Instead, the hosts instantly went up the other end and took the lead as Woodburn converted a cross from the right into the bottom right corner as the Lancashire side went into the interval with a one-goal advantage.
The second half was just a couple of minutes old when Wooburn nearly doubled the home side's lead. Having raced in on the left side of the box, he dragged a low shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Former St Johnstone man Ali McCann then went close on 53 minutes with a first time effort from the edge of the box only to see it fly wide of Gordon's right post.
Peter Haring sent a header over the bar shortly after before Robbie made a double change with Atkinson and Halliday paving the way for Michael Smith and debutant Kye Rowles.
The boys in maroon got themselves back on level terms on 65 minutes. Some fine build-up play down the left saw the ball played into Boyce on 5 yards who was brought down just as he looked to pull the trigger. Peter Haring made no mistake from the spot as he slotted his penalty high into the right side of the net.
Both sides were taking the opportunity to make a number of changes at this stage and it was a Preston substitute who restored their lead ten minutes later. Haring conceded possession in his own box, allowing the ball to be rolled to Browne who just managed to sneak a shot in via the outrushing Gordon to make it 2-1.
The Jambos enjoyed some late spells of possession in the final third but it ended in a narrow victory for the home side as Hearts now prepare for the visit of Stoke City this coming Saturday.
Preston North End: Woodman, Whitman (Amaral 87), Lindsay (Cunninghaml '78), Evans (Ledson '75), Brady (Johnson '45), McCann (Browne '68), Storey (Diaby '68), Hughes (Bauer '78), Riis, Woodburn (O'Neill 85), Potts. Subs not used: Cornell, Coulton.
Hearts: Gordon, Atkinson (Smith '56), Sibbick (Halkett '76), Neilson (Kingsley '45), Cochrane, Halliday (Rowles '56), Haring, Grant (Mackay-Steven 68'), Forrest, McKay, Boyce. Subs not used: Stewart, Halkett,