MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 1 PNE 5
It was an unhappy anniversary for Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler as he admitted he had not seen a performance like Town's second-half slump in 12 months.
This time last year Rosler was in the stands watching Town’s 4-3 defeat to Wigan on the eve of taking over the reins.
For this final pre-season game Rosler was in the dug-out he has now called home for 12 months at Highbury and saw his side show the counter-attacking football the Cod Army has come accustomed too in a competitive first half performance.
That half saw Cian Bolger nod in a trademark bullet header after Sean Maguire had threatened to end Town shot-stopper Alex Cairns’ perfect pre-season as he sent the ball crashing into the post.
Town new-boy Jordy Hiwula wasted two one-on-one chances with PNE’s rookie keeper Mat Hudson who was filling in for injured ex-Town stopper Chris Maxwell.
And Town paid the price for missed opportunities Cairns’ clean sheet streak did finally come to end as after 265 minutes without conceding Paul Huntington’s fierce header from Callum Robinson’s centre levelled the scores.
The torrential rain did not aid Town’s quest and North End picked up were they left off and put their foot on the gas with Alan Browne’s wonder strike whirled in the wind before crashing on to the bar.
But then after Cairns’ run ended North End did not stop scoring as they added four more in the second 45.
Ex-Town striker Tom Barkhuizen netted, Daniel Johnson slotted home a penalty after Town skipper Pond felled the lively Sean Maguire who did everything but score.
Substitute Daryl Horgan and an unfortunate Lewie Coyle own goal ensured Town’s pre-season ended in defeat.
And Rosler says Town have to talk about the second half performance with the League One curtain opener against Rotherham now a week away.
Rosler said: “It was a game of two halves.
“The first half reflected more or less our pre-season, we planned the pre-season in a way that the Preston North End one is the last one and the hardest one.
“Preston North End played really well and they surprised me, especially how in ball possession, how good they were.
“The pitch was very quick that probably helped them.
“But first half we were very competitive.
“They had a lot of the ball but we looked good on the counter attack.
“We scored a goal from a set-piece and we had another two big chances alone on the keeper with Jordy.
“We conceded a goal in a very awkward moment for us with the last kick in overtime of the half.
“But looking at the second half performance, we have to talk about that because I think I have not seen us like that in 12 months.
“But I said we lost experience, we lost good players with experience and in those situations experience helps you to stabilise the ship.
“And in the second half we could not stabilise the ship and that was the only disappointing thing.
“But remember we are learning.
“We know we have a very young squad and that is a part of the learning curve.”
Fleetwood: Cairns, Bolger, Pond (Rodgers 73), Eastham, Coyle, Glendon, Dempsey (Schwabl 84), Bell (Ekpolo 82), Hiwula, McAleny, (Cole 75) Grant. Subs (not used): Nirennold, Burns, Hunter, Crellin.
PNE: Hudson, Fisher (Vermijl 80), Huntington, Spurr, (Davies 69) Cunningham (O’Connor 86), Pearson, Browne (Harrop 61), Barkhuizen (Horgan 69) Johnson, Robinson, Maguire (Doyle 80). Subs (not used): Boyle, Grimshaw, Pringle, Earl, Roberts.
Referee: Michael Salisbury (Preston)