Selkirk manager Steve Forrest hopes a spirited second half showing by Darryn Hiabangana will give the young striker – and his side – some much needed confidence.
The Souters were 3-0 behind at the break and heading for another heavy defeat in the Yarrow Park mud, but Hiabangana set up two goals and almost an unlikely equaliser in the closing stages, only for his corner to be headed against the bar by Jamie Higginbottom.
Forrest said: “Darryn is a confidence player. He was in and out of Hutchison Vale Under 21s team so went to amateur level and was kicked about the park.
“With no disrespect to amateur football, I think since he came to Selkirk he is appreciating playing in a team that is trying to play football.
“We were shocking in the first half but better in the second.”
Preston were missing striker Sean Martin, who bagged a hat-trick against Gala Fairydean Rovers in a 7-0 win the week before, and in his place was the robust figure of Brian Foster, normally a centre half.
He played no part in the opening goal – a sweet 20-yard finish by Ross Elliot on ten minutes – but Foster grabbed the second on 25 minutes when he finished a Mark Cherrie cross.
And 60 seconds later Mark Stewart charged down a clearance and sprinted past Selkirk sweeper Kenny Munro to make it 3-0.
Selkirk were stunned and it could have been more before the break were it not for an interesting interpretation of the offside rule by assistant referee Roumen Radev which left Preston exacerbated.
The homesters scored the goal of the game on 48 minutes thanks to a clever free kick move, which resulted in Phil Addison’s hanging cross finding the head of Sean Guiney.
But Preston hit back on 51 minutes as Foster headed in his second from a Stewart cross to restore the visitors’ three goal lead. A double substitution by Forrest saw Connor Handren and Ryan McManus introduced to Selkirk’s midfield around the hour and both helped the hosts play more football along Yarrow Park’s sodden deck.
Within two minutes of his appearance off the bench, McManus made it 4-2 thanks to a cross from Hiabangana, who looked suspiciously offside.
Hiabangana then fought off three Preston defenders to set up Addison to score from ten yards with just 15 minutes left.
A brave second half showing was almost capped with Higginbottom’s header, but the crossbar, and substitute goalkeeper John Gilbertson’s follow up save from McManus’s shot, leaves Selkirk rock bottom of their Lowland League Cup group.