Report | Preston North End 0 Swansea City 1
Morgan Gibbs-White marked his league debut for Swansea City with the winner as Steve Cooper’s side kicked off the new Championship campaign with victory at Preston.
The on-loan Wolves midfielder was on hand to turn in Jake Bidwell’s cross eight minutes into the second half, and give the visitors all three points; as well as a first win at Deepdale since 2008.
It was no more than the Swans deserved in what was a hard-fought contest, but one in which they carried the greater goal threat.
And Cooper and his players will have no complaints with an away win and clean sheet on the opening day of the new term.
New faces Gibbs-White, Jamal Lowe and Korey Smith all played their part in the victory, while Bidwell was outstanding on the left flank as he picked up where he had left off last season.
Swans’ head coach Cooper had brought Ben Cabango, Connor Roberts and Marc Guehi into his starting line-up following their return from international duty.
Kyle Naughton, Wayne Routledge and Jay Fulton all dropped to the bench, while Gibbs-White, Lowe and Smith were handed league debuts for Swansea.
It was a stop-start affair during the opening stages, with it perhaps little surprise that neither side could find the fluency they would have like to have shown at the outset of a new campaign.
But Swansea began to have some joy from 10 minutes in, with Lowe and Andre Ayew running in the channels and turning the Preston defence.
Freddie Woodman made a simple save after Alan Browne saw his shot deflected into the keeper’s grasp, before Bidwell volleyed over after good link work from Ayew and Roberts.
Gibbs-White then produced a lovely turn and cross that saw Bidwell denied by a good block at the far post.
The best chance to date fell to Lowe on 32 minutes, Ayew linking well down the left and finding the forward, but he was quickly closed down and saw his effort blocked.
It was goalless at the break but Swansea thought they had taken the lead just 50 seconds into the second half.
Bidwell turned in Ayew’s excellent cross at the far post, but the assistant referee raised his flag and the goal did not stand.
However, the next time Bidwell was involved the Swans took a 53rd-minute lead.
Ayew sprayed the ball out to the wing-back, and his volleyed cross perfectly picked out Gibbs-White, who finished from close range.
Swansea were asking all the questions, and Bidwell headed onto the roof of the net from a lovely floated pass by Smith as the hour mark approached.
Woodman made his first meaningful save of the afternoon a few moments later, standing strong to parry Tom Barkhuizen’s effort after slick build-up from the hosts.
Preston were having a better spell and started to put Swansea under the first real sustained pressure of the afternoon.
Bidwell made a superb, brave covering header as Brad Potts looked to meet a Maguire cross on the volley.
The Lilywhites piled on the pressure, sending cross after cross into the Swansea box, but the visitors dealt with the late bombardment to get up and running with a three-point haul.
Preston North End: Connor Ripley; Alan Browne (captain), Jordan Storey, Ben Davies, Andrew Hughes; Ben Pearson, Ryan Ledson; Scott Sinclair (Jayden Stockley 57), Brad Potts, Billy Bodin (Sean Maguire 57); Tom Barkhuizen.
Unused Substitutes: Matt Hudson, Patrick Bauer, Joe Rafferty, Josh Harrop.
Swansea City: Freddie Woodman; Ben Cabango, Joe Rodon, Marc Guehi; Connor Roberts, Korey Smith, Matt Grimes (captain), Jake Bidwell; Morgan Gibbs-White (Jay Fulton 63); Jamal Lowe (Wayne Routledge 79), Andre Ayew.
Unused Substitutes: Steven Benda, Kyle Naughton, Yan Dhanda, Kristoffer Peterson, Liam Cullen.
Referee: Robert Jones