Aberdeen conceded two early goals in their toughest test of pre-season, but responded from there to enjoy another good workout as the start of the new season comes ever closer.
In front of a good travelling support, the Dons were resplendent in the ‘Northern Lights’ kit at Preston for this, the first of two friendlies in England over the next week. A minute’s applause in memory of Craig Brown, who passed away during the summer, rang around Deepdale ahead of the kick-off, Craig having managed both clubs during his career.
It was a busy opening to the game with some meaty tackles flying in, but the hosts were in front after seven minutes. Jack MacKenzie and Graeme Shinnie were each only able to half clear a Best cross into the box. With Preston pressing high up, the ball was worked to Frokjaer on the edge of the area and he curled a shot beyond Kelle Roos to seize the lead.
Facing a much sterner test than anything they’ve seen thus far in pre-season, Aberdeen began to settle from there and Ester Sokler showed good strength in the 18th minute to ease Diaby off the ball 25 yards out and get himself in on goal. He didn’t quite connect with the shot as he would have wanted though and Woodman made a straightforward save.
North End responded though and on 18 minutes, it was 2-0. Potts received the ball on the right and his pass found Frokjaer in the D with plenty of time and space to sweep the ball into the bottom corner. Potts wasn’t too far away with a 25 yarder five minutes later, his effort whistling past the post.
Aberdeen almost pulled one back through a big misunderstanding, Lindsay passing the ball beyond his goalkeeper but just the wrong side of the post after 24 minutes.
The Dons produced their best move thus far on the half hour, Sokler sending Shinnie away on a run deep into Preston territory. He fed Shayden Morris but, under pressure, he flashed his drive over the bar. Moments later, Sokler got. To the by-line but his cross was well cut out by Lindsay. Ylber Ramadani then went for the spectacular, a shot from the halfway line that caught Woodman off his line but which was always drifting wide. Better signs from Aberdeen though.
A collision between Lindsay and Solker required lengthy treatment for the Dons’ striker after 33 minutes, the Slovenian eventually able to continue.
Frokjaer came close to a third on 37 minutes but Roos managed to push his fierce effort over the bar, a very good reflex save after Frokjaer had arrived late in the box to meet a Keane pass.
HALF-TIME: PRESTON NORTH END 2 ABERDEEN 0
The home side might a sprightly start to the second half, MacKenzie and Nicky Devlin both making important early interventions to keep them at bay.
Duk tangled with Lindsay in the Preston box on 50 minutes and was looking to the referee for a penalty, but the decision went Preston’s way. It happened right in front of the Red Army, who were unimpressed with the whistler, to say the least.
Good work by Duk and Jonny Hayes down the left resulted in the Irishman putting in a dangerous cross on 54 minutes, but Ramadani got his angles wrong and put his header over the bar from eight yards out.
The afternoon’s first change came when Holmes came on for Frokjaer after 61 minutes. A minute later, a nice interchange of passes from the hosts ended with Cunningham blazing over the bar from 20 yards out. A raft of changes followed on 66 minutes, Bojan Miovski, Ryan Duncan and Connor Barron replacing Hayes, Duk and Ramadani, Mawene, Stewart and Slater coming on off Keane, Taylor, Cunningham.
Leighton Clarkson produced a lovely cross through the PNE penalty area with the outside of his right boot on 72 minutes, Miovski sliding in at the far post but unable to find the crucial touch.
More changes from the hosts a couple of minutes later with Storey, Bauer, Rodriguez-Gentile and Ledson replacing Diaby, Woodburn, Lindsay and McCann.
Devlin had to produce an acrobatic block to get in the way of a Ledson piledriver on 77 minutes as Preston pressed again from a corner, keeping the Dons in the game. Devlin was on the end of a corner at the other end two minutes later, his looping header clutched by Woodman.
Former Don Calvin Ramsay made it onto the pitch on 80 minutes, replacing Potts, making his Preston debut, on loan from Liverpool. There were three changes for the Dons too, Alfie Bavidge, Findlay Marshall and Dante Polvara on in place of Shinnie, Morris and Sokler.
In the aftermath, Jack Milne went down under a challenge from an Aberdeen corner, but again, no penalty was awarded. Preston were straight up the other end, Slater firing a cross into the box, MacKenzie forced to intercept and slicing the ball over his own bar. Preston made their last outfield change on 84 minutes, Best replaced by Seary.
Nice football down the right from Aberdeen gave Duncan a sight of goal on 89 minutes, but from just outside the box, he pulled his effort wide. Moments later, Roos was called on to make a sharp save from Stewart as the game came to its conclusion.