PNE 1 Tranmere Rovers 0
The wing man made it two in two as North End made it six clean sheets in seven games and remained unbeaten since the change of manager.
They took the lead with practically the final touch of the first half, Jeffrey Monakana scoring for the second week in a row by powering the ball high into the roof of the net after Will Hayhurst’s left wing cross.
Bizarrely the goal had come after Tranmere’s best spell of the half, the visitors having been second best for the first 40 minutes, but finishing the half strongly… before the goal!
The game was brought to life as North End broke in the seventh minute. Loan striker Mamady Sidibe had a tame shot saved by Declan Rudd, but North End raced clear at the other end and won a free kick 28 yards out.
John Welsh, who was being booed by the Rovers fans every time he touched the ball, stepped up and curled the ball up and over the wall, but saw it smash back off the left hand upright and cleared for a corner. Welsh himself swung over the corner and Fon Williams fumbled round the post, the North End No.19 stepped up again and this time Bailey Wright met the ball, but could only find the roof of the net.
On 11 minutes another great break by PNE, saw Jeffrey Monakana race down the right; he pulled the ball back to Will Hayhurst, who cut inside but was tackled came as he was about to shoot by Zoumana Bakayogo.
Shortly after the same full back made another great block, this time from Monakana himself after he was fed in by Garner.
At the mid-way point in the half Paul Connolly’s free kick was brilliantly headed down by Jack King and Joe Garner saw shot blocked, again by Bakayogo once again, the full back keeping the visitors in the game with his full-blooded determination.
Just before the half hour mark skipper Welsh won another free kick in a left channel, this time it was three yards closer than the one that hit the post previously. Welsh and Hayhurst were over it again; this time Welsh went for the top right hand corner and Fon Williams made yet another brilliant save to deny him.
From Welsh’s resulting corner, John Mousinho’s header came off his own man, Joe Garner, and the pace was taken off it and dropped into Fon Williams’ arms.
Just after this incident Jeffrey Monakana raced along the byline after Connolly’s ball forward and flashed a superb ball across the goalline, but no one could convert with the goal gaping.
Up until the last five minutes of the half North End had been dominant – Rudd a spectator, the forwards of Tranmere defending in their own corners.
But on 39 minutes the visitors received a bit of luck; Bailey Wright putting a header towards his own goal, beating Rudd, but it came back off the inside of the left hand post, ran along the line and was cleared by John Welsh.
Tranmere’s best spell followed as Liam Palmer then fired a ball across from the right and only the boot of Paul Connolly kept the ball out.
But as the half-time whistle approached North End took the lead. It was another great break from North End down the left, Joe Garner held the ball up for Will Hayhurst to run past him, Hayhurst drilled across from the byline, Taylor made a block to take the ball off King’s toe but Monakana fired high and powerfully into the roof of the net from ten yards out.
The first attack after the break saw the goalscorer win a free kick in the right hand corner; Will Hayhurst put over a pacy ball that was met by Paul Huntington, but the centre half could only angle it just over the left hand corner of post and bar from ten yard out.
North End on the counter looked a real threat and Paul Connolly's excellent break down the right set up Joe Garner to power a right footed effort that Fon Williams needed to be at full stretch to keep out, Connolly on the follow up seeing his header caught by the Welsh stopper.
On 65 minutes Monakana was inches away from making it two for him and two for the team on his weaker left foot, seeing a 25 yard screamer skim the cross bar from 25 yards out after a good run from the middle of the park by Will Hayhurst.
Lee Holmes returned from injury with 20 minutes left and immediately showed his quality, given a free role behind Jack King he was on the ball straight away, creating a chance for himself that just went wide from 30 yards out.
With ten minutes left a cross from the right almost nestled neatly in the bottom corner from Holmes, moved out to the right when Keane replaced Monakana. The wing man then curled an effort inches past the left hand upright after some lovely slick one touch passing from the Lilywhites.
Jack King soon after tried a sneeky back heel from Holmes' cross, but couldn't quite connect - the frontman deserving a goal after another superb display holding the ball up for North End.
Like in the first half, the visitors came strong as the half went on, but Holmes was still a threat every time he got the ball in and around the final third and he saw a great shot acrobatically cleared in the last minute of normal time, Liam Palmer overhead kicking his goalbound effort clear.
Three minutes of stoppage time was added on, but North End played it out comfortably to end the Deepdale season with another win and another clean sheet.
: Rudd, Connolly, Buchanan, Mousinho, Huntington, Wright, Monakana (Keane, 78), Welsh, Garner (Holmes, 70), King, Hayhurst (Byrom, 86). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Cummins, Procter, Foster.PNE line-up
: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Palmer, Robinson, Bakayogo, Power, O’Halloran (Bell-Baggie, 68), Gibson, Sidibe (Stockton, 80), Akpa Akpro. Subs not used: Goodison, Thomspon, Harrison, Kay, Mooney.Tranmere Rovers line-up
: 10,467 (715 away fans)Attendance
: Mr Carl BoyesonReferee