Moult on the mark but Motherwell fall short at Preston
DESPITE the scoreline, Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough will not be too disheartened with his side’s performance against Championship new-boys Preston North End in the last of the Fir Park side’s pre-season friendlies.
First-half goals from Joe Garner and Neil Kilkenny gave Preston a decisive advantage, but Motherwell played their part in an entertaining pre-season encounter, and at the very least deserved their late consolation from Louis Moult.
Scott McDonald made his first start since rejoining the club on Monday playing in a midfield five, with the scorer of Tuesday’s late winner against Sligo Rovers, Wes Fletcher, leading the line.
Motherwell passed the ball well early on, with Marvin Johnson looking lively coming off the right flank.
The winger had three shots on goal within the first 20 minutes, the best of which was a left-foot effort that was deflected just wide by a Preston defender.
Jermaine Beckford had the ball in the net for the visitors midway through the half, lifting the ball over Dan Twardzik in the Motherwell goal only to be denied by the assistant’s flag.
They didn’t have to wait long for the opener though, and on 27 minutes a whipped cross by former Scotland player Paul Gallagher was met by a glancing header from Garner from six yards that found Twardzik’s bottom right-hand corner.
Suddenly, Motherwell were all over the place, and Preston doubled their lead just a couple of minutes later.
Some neat build-up play by Calum Woods allowed him to tee up the ball for Kilkenny on the edge of the area, who had all the time in the world to pick his spot and duly planted the ball in the top corner.
Johnson almost had Motherwell back in the game at the start of the second half, but Preston keeper Jamie Jones made a great one-handed stop to tip his effort over.
They had an even better opportunity soon after as a looping ball into the area was controlled by Fletcher who teed up McDonald, only for Jones to brilliantly tip his point-blank effort on to a post.
Twardzik then did well to deny Beckford from a similar range, before that man Jones pulled off another wonderful stop to help substitute Lionel Ainsworth’s screamer over the bar.
Motherwell finally got their goal in the last minute, substitute Moult latching on to a through ball and hammering past Jones for his first goal for the club.