29/07/2006 15:28, Report by Cliff Butler
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Match Report: PNE 2 United 1

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was almost the last-gasp hero for United's shadow squad when they slipped to a rare pre-season defeat at the hands of Championship side Preston North End.

The Reds skipper for the day hit the crossbar in injury time, having pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in the 85th minute.

It was a good workout for Solskjaer and a mildly entertaining contest for the fans at Deepdale and those watching live on MUTV or (MUTV Online). The North End fans clearly enjoyed it more, as their side put one over the big city boys from down the road.

Former United player Danny Pugh gave North End the lead in the third minute and the home side consolidated their lead in the 59th minute with a second goal from Simon Whaley.

Sir Alex Ferguson once again gave youth a fling in this fixture and they did well against a strong Preston side that will once again have Premiership ambitions this coming season.

Although billed as a first-team friendly, there were very few faces in United’s starting line-up who could realistically expect to be on duty when the Reds open the new Premiership campaign against Fulham in three weeks’ time.

Paul McShane, who made a substitute appearance in Wednesday’s match at Celtic, was in from the start to share the central defensive responsibilities with Jonny Evans. Darron Gibson was also given a place from the start after being restricted to substitute outings against Kaizer Chiefs and Celtic.

It was an almost perfect day for football in Preston - still pleasantly warm, but there was a refreshing breeze and light rainfall as the game started with United attacking the Alan Kelly Town End goal.

United’s supporters, who were allocated the Bill Shankly Kop stand for this match, were in good voice, but their singing ended abruptly in the 3rd minute when Preston struck the game's first blow.

Many spectators were still finding their seats when United keeper Luke Steele was forced to retrieve the ball from the net after Danny Pugh, once a Red but more recently in the employ of Leeds, marked his home debut for Preston by

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