ACCRINGTON Stanley’s third pre-season friendly ended in a narrow 3-2 defeat to Championship side Preston North End.

The Reds trailed 2-0 at half time and briefly got back into contention thanks to a second goal in as many games from Jonny Edwards but Greg Cunningham added a third for the visitors soon after only for Matty Pearson to put them within touching distance again.

After a slow start North End began to exert some pressure with Callum Robinson evading Reagan Ogle down the right and driving the ball into the Stanley box with Janoi Donacien on hand to clear.

At the other end Mekhi McLeod released Edwards who got a shot away from the edge of the 18 yard box only to see it blocked by a defender and his appeals for handball turned down.

Alex Neil’s visitors caused some concern when Stevie May beat the offside but couldn’t pick out Eoin Doyle and Robinson lashed over the bar.

Stanley striker Billy Kee had scored in the weekend draw with Everton and tried to find the net again, this time with a deflected free kick saved by Preston keeper Chris Maxwell.

North End took the lead nine minutes from the break when Doyle cut the ball back from the right for Alan Browne to slot low into the left corner of Aaron Chapman’s net.

And they doubled their advantage soon after on the counter when Ben Pringle broke down the left and crossed for Robinson to beat Chapman from inside the box.

John Coleman made four half time changes, with regulars Pearson and Omar Beckles joined by youngster Zehn Mohammed and for the third successive match a trialist striker.

Chapman was called upon to make a good save to deny Tommy Spurr soon after the restart, pawing out the defender’s header from a left wing corner.

The Reds then reduced the defecit when Beckles headed on a Scott Brown free kick to Edwards who made no mistake with a low strike beyond Maxwell.

Preston promptly made nine substitutions and the rhythm of proceedings was briefly interrupted before North End began to exert pressure and Chapman produced an excellent save to deny Jordan Hugill.

But the joy was shortlived as Greg Cunningham hammered home a third for the visitors from the very next attack to restore the two goal cushion.

Coleman’s side set up an interesting finish to the game thanks to Pearson, who burst away down the right after dispossessing Pringle and into the box, slotting coolly beyond substitute goalkeeper Mat Hudson to make it 3-2.

The Reds were unable to make another clear opening to secure the draw, with Beckles heading a Jordan Clark free kick square of goal, but may take encouragement from their second half fightback.

Stanley: Chapman, Donacien (Pearson), Hughes (Beckles), Sykes (Mohammed), Ogle, Sousa (Clark), Brown, Nolan, McLeod, Edwards, Kee (Trialist)