North End signed off before Christmas with an impressive away win at Peterborough United thanks to Jermaine Beckford’s first goal for the Club.
Beckford grabbed what proved to be the winner in first half stoppage time, a brilliant clinical finish from Kevin Davies’ flick.
And in the second half Andy Little and Neil Kilkenny both had shots cleared off the line as Simon Grayson’s men held off late pressure from Darren Ferguson’s Posh.
Manager Simon Grayson selected the same 18 that were on duty in the 1-1 draw with Milton Keynes Dons the previous week, but they started in a 3-5-2 formation with Scott Wiseman the third centre half and Humphrey and Laird operating as the wing backs.
The home side started brightly, Darren Ferguson’s men forcing a free kick in the opening couple of minutes. Erhun Oztumer, who scored from a similar distance the previous week to give the Posg a 2-1 win at Leyton Orient, taking it in a right hand channel 25 yards out, but it was well saved by Stuckmann down to his left hand corner.
Ten minutes in and North End were an inch away from the lead - Paul Gallagher smashing a vicious shot against the bar from 12 yards out. It was great play by PNE; Humphrey down the right, into Kevin Davies, who in turn played a clever ball round the corner to into Gallagher, who lashed a shot off the bar and down, but out and away before Beckford could volley home the rebound.
Just before the hour mark Oztumer again fired in from 25 yards and his effort flashed inches wide of the right hand upright.
North End pushed again into the final 15 minutes of the half and Scott Laird drove a cross-cum-shot from the left which was palmed around post by Alnwick. A brace of corners followed with the last one being headed wide by Paul Huntington from Paul Gallagher’s outswinger.
Butr as half-time loomed the yellows went ahead and it was Jermain Beckford with a brilliant finish. Neil Kilkenny played a straight ball into the feet of Kevin Davies on the edge of the box, who cleverly flicked the ball with the outside of his boot into Beckfrord, who turned Zakuani inside out before lifting a superb finish over Ben Alnwick and into the bottom left hand corner from ten yards out.
The second half started with North End on the front foot, however, they required some excellent keeping from Thorsten Stuckmann to deny Aaron McLean after a short back heaqder from Paul Huntington sent the loan man in, but the big German made himself big and blocked the effort of the loanee.
Alan Browne came on for an injured Paul Gallagher as North End pushed for a second, Beckford seeing a shot deflected wide and then Alan Browne weas brought down for a freee kick that Kilkenny blasted in and was cleared off the line by Ntlhe.
With 15 minutes left a real flash of brilliance from the home side’s front pair as Mackail’Smith raced down the left and pulled the ball across from McLean who hit a sweet first time left-footed volley, but luckily for PNE it hit the outside of the netting with Stuckmann having no chance.
With five minutes to go the home side were attacking but North End swift on the counter and Kilkenny won the ball with a superb tackle on the edge of his own ‘D’ and played it up to Davies; he then played a sublime ball over the top to Beckford, who raced through and fired hard and low but Alnwick made himself big and saved well, pushing the ball out for a corner.
Six minutes of time was added on by match official Darren Sheldrake and it was a frantic period as the Posh through everything at North End, but the yellows held firm to record their tenth away win in all competitions, with ten clean sheets to go with them!
Peterborough United line-up: Alnwick, Ntihe, Bostwick, Payne (c), Oztumer, Anderson (Mendez-Laing, 71), McLean, Burgess, Zakuani (James, 87), Beautyman, Mackail-Smith. Subs not used: Day, Smith, Vassell, Washington, Santos.
PNE line-up: Stuckmann, Wiseman, Laird, Kilkenny, Clarke (c), Huntington, Humphrey (Little, 87), Welsh, Beckford (King, 88), K Davies, Gallagher (Browne, 61). Subs not used: Jones, Woods, Reid, Brownhill.
Attendance: 6,803 (475 away fans)
Referee: Mr D Sheldrake