Preston kicked off their pre-season fixtures on Saturday, beating Bamber Bridge 2-0. North End tend to start with Brig at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, and did so last summer with a 7-0 win.
It wasn’t quite so emphatic on Saturday, but a good run-out nevertheless. Tom Clarke put North End in front from close range, before Louis Moult fired home from a Graham Burke backheel.
Both goals came in the first half, with Alex Neil’s side enduring a slightly frustrating second half. A host of chances went begging, and Preston almost tried to walk the ball in on a couple of occasions.
However, the second half did also see Billy Bodin introduced, and he stood out in a white shirt. Brought on for Tom Barkhuizen as part of the different first half and second half teams, Bodin really impressed.
Bodin’s quick feet and trickery were on show, he was direct running at his full back, and was putting real quality into the box – even with his weaker right foot.
After nearly a year out with a torn ACL, Bodin’s return is a real boost. He was excellent in pre-season last year, and let’s hope that this is the start of better times for the Welshman having been cut down when he looked so good a year ago.
Yes, it’s only Bamber Bridge – a team in the seventh tier – so we’re not getting too excited just yet, but Bodin certainly stood out on the day. Another real boost was the connection he appeared to have with striker Jayden Stockley.
The pair linked up well, with Bodin picking out a couple of decent crosses for the big man. Fans will be hoping to see that translated into league games, and it would be little surprise.
Bodin and Stockley actually played together in the 2013-14 season, turning out for Torquay United together. Neither player posted particularly impressive numbers, but they may well have picked up a connection during that spell.
They seemed to be on the same wavelength on Saturday, and that’s something to keep an eye on. We’ll need to see it against sterner opposition, but there may just be a dangerous partnership in the offing there.