Early goals in either half gave Preston North End a derby victory over Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.
Tom Barkhuizen started things off, firing Daniel Johnson’s low pass into the goal from close range few minutes in and then it reserved three minutes after half-time with the No.11 this time scoring from the pacey wingman’s pull back as the two both reached double figures in goals for the season.
The Latics made it a nervy ending for Alex Neil’s side with Chey Dunkley scrambling home with half an hour to go, but the Lilywhites saw the game out to move back into the top six.
The manager had made two changes from the draw against Swansea City the previous week; Andrew Hughes returning at left back and Sean Maguire coming in to lead the line.
And whilst the visitors were ahead early, they had already been tested at the other end, Jamal Lowe finding space on the left edge of the penalty area, having space to turn and shoot, with Declan Rudd palming the ball wide for a corner.
But they were in front on seven minutes and it was a superbly team goal as Scott Sinclair found Ben Pearson 25 yards out and he played a blind left-footed ball into space behind the Wigan defence for DJ to collect the ball in the left side of the box and then slide a perfectly-weighted ball across for Barkhuizen to keep up his excellent derby record and smash the ball home in front of the 3,000-plus PNE fans, after the home side had switched it around at kick-off to play towards their own fans in the opening period.
The chances flowed for the Lilywhites after that and could have been three ahead at the break. Just six minutes after the goal a Darnell Fisher cross was perfectly weighted for Maguire to put in a brilliant header that looked destined for the bottom left-hand corner until David Marshall brilliantly got fingertips on it, to turn the ball behind for a corner.
And a minute later another gilt-edged opportunity came as another superb defence-splitting pass from Pearson this time found Sinclair in the right side of the penalty area, allowing him to get the ball in front of him and drive goalwards, beating Marshall, but also flashing just past the left-hand post.
The home side were still dangerous and Kieffer Moore was their main threat, leading the line for the hosts and just after the half mark he collected a lofted ball into the box on his chest, turned and volleyed, Patrick Bauer getting his body in the way to turn the ball behind for a corner.
The second half started with the narrow advantage, but they doubled it within three minutes and it was once again brilliant football.
It started in the North End half as Barkhuizen broke down the right, played the ball into Alan Browne 30 yards out, who held the ball up before feeding it back into the No.29 down the right of the penalty area and he pulled it back to DJ on the penalty spot who calmly controlled and placed the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
The two-goal advantage lasted less than ten minutes though when Chey Dunkley scrambled home from substitute Joe Gelhardt’s cross from the left, poking into the net from a yard out after the ball wasn’t cleared.
But with Tom Clarke and Jayden Stockley added for the extra height, even with plenty of long, direct balls in the box, the Lilywhites defended manfully and only a Gelhardt shot from 25 yards with a minute of normal time left forced the North End goalkeeper into any sort of save as they held on for the win to move back into the Play-Off positions.
Wigan Athletic line-up: Marshall, Byrne, Morsy (c), Evans (Jacobs, 55), Lowe, Pearce (Gelhardt, 55), Moore (Garner, 81), Williams, Kipre, Dunkley, Naismith. Subs not used: Jones, Massey, Roberts, Balogun.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Hughes (Clarke, 72), Pearson, Bauer, Davies, Barkhuizen, Johnson, Sinclair (Harrop, 70), Browne (c), Maguire (Stockley, 81). Subs not used: Ripley, Gallagher, Rafferty, Nugent.
Attendance: 12,439 (3,294 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr D England
Updated at (UK)
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