ANDY MANGAN scored his third pre-season goal as Wrexham secured a well deserved 1-1 draw against Preston North End at The Racecourse last night.
It was Preston who created the better opportunities in the first half before taking a 21st minute lead.
Wrexham, who made a sluggish start, came to life and striker Mangan added to his goals against Vauxhall Motors and Nantwich Town - just 24 hours earlier – with the equaliser before the break.
There was little in the way of goalmouth action in the second half as both sides cancelled each other out. Both teams were eager to get forward but it was a case of defences on top.
Wrexham matched their visitors and can be pleased with their performance against a well-organised Preston side, who were got the ball down and played neat passing football.
But Dean Saunders’ side will face a different proposition when the Conference campaign begins in little more than a fortnight.
As expected, the majority of the players who came on as substitutes during the second half of the 4-0 victory at Nantwich the previous evening were named in what was a strong starting line-up for the visit of Preston.
Chris Maxwell was again handed the goalkeeping duties for the opening period while midfielder Jay Harris, who capped a 60 minute run-out at Nantwich with a fantastic 25-yard goal, was again included from the start.
Former Wrexham midfielder Darren Ferguson, now in the Preston hotseat, also named an experienced side for his side’s penultimate friendly before the start of the new Championship campaign.
Ferguson and assistant manager Kevin Russell, given a warm reception by Wrexham supporters, almost saw their team take a fifth minute lead but an alert Harris was on hand to clear Andy Morrell’s attempted clearance off his own goal-line following Paul Coutts’ cross.
Wrexham responded through Morrell, who centred from the by-line but David Gray was on hand to clear in the six yard box.
At the other end, right-back Gray delivered a 15th minute free-kick which an unmarked Sean St Ledger headed over the bar when he should have done better, and Chris Brown also guided a header wide of the goal.
After creating some good half chances, Preston had been threatening a goal and it arrived on 21 minutes. Danny Mayor raced onto Adam Barton’s superb defence splitting pass and he calmly slotted past Maxwell.
The busy Dean Keates was at the heart of everything good about Wrexham’s build up play but it was Dean Ashton who supplied a cross that Mangan fired wide of the target.
And Wrexham, who had come more into the game, found themselves back on level terms after 31 minutes. Declan Walker incepted a pass and charged forward before crossing into the area for Mangan whose shot was deflected past keeper Andy Lonergan.
Wrexham enjoyed a decent finish to the half without creating another scoring chance, while Saunders made one change for the start of the second half with keeper Scott Shearer replacing Maxwell.
Appeals for a penalty were turned down when the hard working Harris appeared to have been fouled when he shaped to shoot following good work by Mangan on 51 minutes, while Preston hit back with Paul Hayes only just clearing the bar from Billy Jones’ centre.
Inevitably, Saunders began to make outfield substitutions as the half wore on but young right-back Walker continued to make an impressive contribution with both his defensive display and willingness to get forward.
Both defences had the upper hand although Wrexham had a sight of goal on 76 minutes when trialist Jamie Tolley slipped the ball through for Mangan but he fired wide from a narrow angle.
David Brown also shot wide but Shearer was called into action at the other end to block Keith Treacy’s drive, with Walker clearing the loose ball.
Neither side could produce a winner and it ended all square.
WREXHAM (4-4-2): Maxwell (Shearer 46); Walker, Blackburn, Sinclair, Ashton (Hunt 65); Gall (Brown 65), Harris (Tolley 65), Keates (Morton 87), Knight-Percival; Morrell (Cieslewicz 73), Mangan. Subs not used: Obeng, Williams, Edwards, Baynes, Smith, Mawer.
PRESTON (4-4-2): Lonergan; Gray (Treacy 46), Morgan, St Ledger, Davidson (McLaughlin 74); Mayor, Jones, Barton, Coutts; Hayes, Brown (Proctor 46).
Referee: M Bridges.
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