First half goals from Lee Holmes and Bailey Wright and a second half hat-trick for the second game in a row – this time from Paul Gallagher – gave North End a convincing home win over Michael Jackson’s Shrewsbury Town.
After a sedate first 30 minutes in the glorious sunshine Holmes headed in Paul Gallagher’s deep cross at the back post to open the scoring. Another Gallagher cross, this time from a corner, helped create the second for Wright, who volleyed home from 12 yards.
The visitors had a lifeline before the interval when some slack play in the left back area saw Miller presented the ball by the North End defence and he fired home after rounding Declan Rudd.
However, Gallagher, who had been denied numerous times in the last home game, was this time on the scoresheet, driving home Beavon’s cross just before the hour mark. Four minutes later he added a fourth from the penalty spot after Alan Browne was upended.
Two substitutes combined as Summerfield reduced the arrears, heading home Paul Parry’s deep right wing cross with 13 minutes left.
However, Gallagher completed his hat-trick with a wonderful whipped free kick from the edge of the box, just to the right of the ‘D’ to make it 5-2 on 80 minutes.
Manager Simon Grayson had made four changes to the side that lost to a controversial first half penalty at Brentford, John Welsh returning in midfield and Lee Holmes and Paul Gallagher back down the flanks and Kevin Davies in attack, whilst there was a place on the bench for Joe Garner after three games on the sidelines.
The Lilywhites started with some excellent passing, without perhaps the level of urgency needed – perhaps understandable in barmy conditions at Deepdale.
They could have gone ahead on five minutes. Alan Browne, starting his third consecutive game in the midfield, broke from middle of the park; in turn he fed Kevin Davies who sucked players towards him, the ball went out to Lee Holmes, whose cross evaded everyone and back out to Gallagher on the left, his pull back found Tom Clarke, but his powerful drive was well blocked by Asa Hall.
On 18 minutes Davies chested down for Browne from Lee Holmes’ dinked cross, but Wolves loanee Dominic Iorfa blocked for a PNE corner.
At the mid-way point in the half there was some brilliant play by PNE; Gallagher played a one-two with Browne and some first touch passing saw the ball come into Kevin Davies. His pass sideways went to Stuart Beavon, but rather than shoot he took a touch and Iorfa recovered and blocked.
However, Grayson’s side were in front on 34 minutes. North End moved the ball quickly from the back, spread it out wide to the left hand side to Gallagher, who checked onto his right and delivered deep to the back post to where Lee Holmes popped up with a close range header into the bottom right hand corner.
It was 2-0 six minutes later as Paul Gallagher again crossed from the left, this time from a corner, it looped in very high into the box; Kevin Davies brought it down with his head and it eventually fell to Bailey Wright in acres of space in the penalty spot who hit a superb volley into the roof of the net from 12 yards out.
That could have been game over, however, the visitors were given a lifeline when a very short back pass was only straight into the path of on loan forward Shaun Miller who rounded Declan Rudd and fired high into the top left hand corner on 40 minutes to give the Salop hope.
The second half started with North End on the front foot, Lee Holmes seeing an 18 yard free kick deflected for a corner and then from the corner he took Bailey Wright overhead kicked the cross just wide of the left hand post.
But North End extended their lead back to two just before the hour mark. Stuart Beavon ran the channel well, driving to the right hand byline before drilling a ball across to Paul Gallagher ten yards out, who drove into the bottom left hand corner.
Some wonderful play by Alan Browne won a penalty four minutes later, collecting a pass from Kevin Davies, spinning into the bix and being brought down by Joe Jacobson. Paul Gallagher stepped up and fired low into the bottom left hand corner for the fourth.
The visitors pulled a second goal back as the North End midfield was robbed of the ball and Shrews sub, former PNE man, Paul Parry delivered a perfect ball to the back post for another change, Luke Summerfield, to power a header home from eight yards out.
But it was five just two minutes later as another surging run from Alan Browne resulted in a foul on the edge of the box – it was close to a second penalty – and Paul Gallagher stepped up and whipped a wonderful free over the wall into the left hand inside netting for his second hat-trick of the season and make the final score 5-2 to the Lilywhites.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Clarke (Humphrey, 46), Laird, Welsh, King, Wright, Holmes (Brownhill, 72), Browne, K Davies (Garner,64), Beavon, Gallagher. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Buchanan, C Davies, Kilkenny.
Shrewsbury Town line-up: Weale, Jacobson, Iorfa (Summerfield, 64), Miller, Bradshaw (Eaves, 46), Taylor, Wildig (Parry, 46), Goldson, Woods, Mills, Hall. Subs not used: Anyon, Atajic, Flint, Fletcher.
Attendance: 9,636 (322 away fans)
Referee: Mr N Miller