Round two of pre-season saw Newcastle United travel to Deepdale to take on Championship side Preston.
All eyes were on new boys Murphy and Manquillo, with both starting on the bench. There would also be a place on the bench for Darlow who’d been heavily linked with Boro in recent weeks before they eventually recruited a new keeper from elsewhere.
There would, of course, be the usual raft of changes from both sides with game time being more important that anything else at this stage of pre-season even having won the away league fixture against Preston last season 2-1.
STARTING XI: Elliot (Darlow, 45), Mbemba, Hanley (Clark, 45), Lejeune (Manquillo, 76), Dummett (Yedlin, 45), Atsu (Perez, 45), Diame (Colback, 45), Shelvey (Hayden, 45), Aarons (Murphy, 45), de Jong (Roberts, 61), Mitrovic (Gayle, 45)
Most interesting would seem to be some real game time for de Jong, Aarons and Mbemba. It would certainly seem Rafa is very keen to have a good look at these three in these early games, although it’s not quality that’s ever really been the issue with any of them.
One player who would seem to curry little favour with our manager is Mitrovic who, at times, appeared not to even be his 2nd choice striker. Our Serbian does however have quite a record against Preston having scored both the goals in a 2-1 win here last season and it was the big lad who wasted no time in getting the visitors ahead after just 8 minutes. Our number 45 would pounce on a rebound from a very decent shot by Dummett of all people.
With 28 minutes gone Mitrovic could have double his and Newcastle’s tally for the day after his chest down from a corner and hit would come back off the inside of the Preston post.
And minutes later he’d rise again to head a Shelvey cross over the bar as he continued to cause the Preston defence all sorts of problems.
On 33 minutes, with Newcastle having been comfortable to that point, Preston would break and Barkhuizen would slam home with Lejeune seemingly well placed to clear. Whether he was waiting for a shout or just misread the flight of the ball you’d have to question if the new man could have done more.
Mitro would again be involved just before half time after some good pressure from Newcastle as this time his knock on would find de Jong who wouldn’t quite have time to get his shot away before being closed down.
The expected raft of changes at half time would see Rafa make 8 changes including a first appearance in a black and white shirt for Jacob Murphy.
And it would be Newcastle who would start the brightest this half with first de Jong mishitting a great chance after good work from Perez and then Gayle who did will to hit the target only to see Maxwell save with his legs.
Preston’s turn to test the Newcastle goal next when Darlow was forced to make sure a Hugill effort did not creep inside his post after 56 minutes. de Jong would then see an effort tipped over after good work from Murphy and Colback and that would prove to be his last action as he would be replaced by Calum Roberts after an hour.
Darlow, a half time substitute would then be substituted himself to allow Freddie Woodman a quarter of the match to great applause from the Newcastle faithful. And then a debut to the other new man Manquillo who would take the place of Lejeune for the final 15 minutes.
Newcastle, despite all the changes were still probably looking the most likely to find a winner as first Mbemba stung the palms of the Preston keeper before Gayle could only head wide with 82 minutes gone.
There would still be time for a late save from Woodman with only seconds remaining to push the ball for a corner but neither side would find the winner.
Job done. On to Bradford.