Morgan Gibbs-White scored on his league debut to give Swansea City victory at Preston North End in their opening game of the Championship season.
Swansea shaded a scrappy first half as another new signing, Jamal Lowe, had a couple of half-chances.
Jake Bidwell had a goal disallowed for the visitors a minute after the restart before Gibbs-White, on loan from Wolves, tapped in from Bidwell’s cross.
Preston’s best effort in a flat display was Brad Potts’ rebound over the bar.
This fixture had the potential to serve as something of a barometer for the teams’ early promotion credentials, with both in contention last season.
Swansea had surged into the play-off places when the previous campaign resumed in June, whereas Preston travelled in the opposite direction as they dropped out of the top six.
Both sides looked rusty in the opening exchanges at Deepdale, neither able to control possession for sustained periods.
The visitors were marginally better and created a couple of opportunities for Lowe, who twice had shots blocked by Preston defenders.
Former Wigan forward Lowe was one of three league debutants in the Swans’ line-up, with fellow new arrivals Korey Smith and Gibbs-White starting in midfield.
There were no new signings on display for Preston, and Alex Neil’s side offered next to no attacking threat as the first half drifted to its goalless conclusion.
Swansea thought they were ahead within a minute of the restart but Bidwell’s back-post volley from Andre Ayew’s cross was disallowed for offside.
Five minutes later, both players played important roles in the goal.
Ayew launched a raking diagonal ball to Bidwell inside the Preston penalty area, and the left wing-back’s low cross was well finished by the onrushing Gibbs-White.
When Bidwell then had another chance to score as he headed narrowly over, it looked like Swansea might pull away from their opponents.
Although Preston were nowhere near their best, they were still in the contest and came close to an equaliser when Potts fired over from a rebound, but that was about the best the home side could muster.
Preston’s late search for a leveller amounted to a series of hopeful long balls, which Swansea repelled with relative ease to make a winning start to the season.
Preston manager Alex Neil told BBC Radio Lancashire:
“I don’t think there was a lot in it. In the first half we had little periods when we were on top, but our final ball let us down.
“There wasn’t much in it. These games are going to be decided by making sure you don’t give the ball away cheaply, which I thought we did too often, making sure you don’t make silly mistakes defensively and making sure if you get chances you are clinical.
“If you get an opportunity you need to make sure you put it away and be clinical. We created as many chances as they did. The difference is they had the ball in the back of the net and we didn’t.”
Swansea City head coach Steve Cooper:
“It was a tough game but our performance was good. In the first half we got into some good positions and didn’t quite capitalise on them.
“We looked a real threat and kept it going in the second half. Bidwell should have put us 1-0 up – we’ve watched it back and he’s onside. It would have been a fantastic goal but, as Bidwell does, he keeps going and gets in again and Gibbs-White gets in the six-yard box to put it in, a brilliant team goal.
“We had to show the other side of the game then to see out the result. A lot of balls in our box but Freddie Woodman hasn’t really had a save to make which tells you all about the heart and soul of the latter stages. A really good start.”
- 18LedsonSubstituted forGallagherat 72′minutes
- 39BodinSubstituted forMaguireat 57′minutes
- 31SinclairSubstituted forStockleyat 57′minutes
- 11Gibbs-WhiteSubstituted forFultonat 63′minutes
- 9LoweSubstituted forRoutledgeat 79′minutes
- 10A Ayew
Match ends, Preston North End 0, Swansea City 1.
Second Half ends, Preston North End 0, Swansea City 1.
Ben Pearson (Preston North End) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Wayne Routledge (Swansea City).
Corner, Preston North End. Conceded by Jake Bidwell.
Attempt blocked. Ben Pearson (Preston North End) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Paul Gallagher (Preston North End) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. Jayden Stockley (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Alan Browne.
Foul by Jayden Stockley (Preston North End).
Marc Guehi (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Preston North End. Conceded by Connor Roberts.
Attempt blocked. Ben Pearson (Preston North End) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is blocked.
Substitution, Swansea City. Wayne Routledge replaces Jamal Lowe.
Foul by Andrew Hughes (Preston North End).
André Ayew (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Hand ball by Sean Maguire (Preston North End).
Foul by Brad Potts (Preston North End).
Jake Bidwell (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Andrew Hughes (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jamal Lowe (Swansea City).