PNE 0 Crewe Alexandra 2
A goal either side of half-time from Moore and Inman gave Crewe Alexandra the three points at Deepdale.
The visitors took the lead with their first and only shot on target in the first half, Byron Moore coolly sliding the ball into the bottom right hand corner after beating his man in the box on 26 minutes.
The second was also against the run of play as Bradden Inman curled a superb effort from the left hand corner of the box into the top right hand corner of Declan Rudd’s goal with 30 minutes left.
It had been all North End to that point, dominating proceedings from the early stages, Steve Phillips, the Crewe No.1 making a brilliant save to deny Scott Laird after only 78 seconds, palming the wing back’s effort from the left hand edge of the box just past the right hand post following a clever lay off by Iain Hume.
From the resulting corner Hume hit the bar with a superb curling effort. Joel Byrom lofted the ball into the box, which was kept alive by Tom Clarke, who pulled the ball back to Hume who curled it up and over a crowd of players but back off the bar.
Good play by Hume in the middle of the park on 20 minutes gave the Lilywhites another chance; he was allowed space to turn and run, threaded Stuart Beavon through. His first shot from right hand channel was saved by Phillips, it back to him and he shot again which deflected into side-netting, but referee Trevor Kettle didn’t give a corner, not the only decision that riled the North End players and crowd in the first half.
The visitors took the lead six minutes later and it was their first chance in the whole game. They worked the ball from the left through Bradden Inman and the ball was flicked over the top for Byron Moore, who controlled, beat his man and fired the ball with the outside of his boot into the bottom right hand corner.
On the half hour mark, as North End looked for a quick riposte, skipper Keith Keane was brought down by Alex skipper Abdul Osman four yards outside the box slightly to the right of centre. Joel Byrom and Iain Hume stood over it, both had a go, Byrom first hitting the wall and then Osman blocking Hume’s effort.
Five minutes before the break Kevin Davies saw a powerful header from Tom Clarke’s whipped cross flash just wide of the right hand post.
North End came out of the blocks quickly in the second half, Bailey Wright powering a Joel Byrom header just past the left hand Town End post inside 90 seconds of the restart.
The front three of Kevin Davies, Hume and Beavon then combined for the latter to cross from the left for Davies six yards out, but his bullet header was an agonising inch past the left hand post.
However, it was the visitors who doubled their lead on 69 minutes. Moore on the right collected the ball and crossed deep for Inman, who pulled back onto the edge of the box and curled a shot up and over Rudd into the top right hand corner.
Grant almost added to PNE’s woes with a shot that smashed against the bar and came back and hit Declan Rudd on the back and went out for a corner on 72 minutes.
Josh Brownhill was given his league debut in a double change with John Welsh with just over a quarter of an hour left.
With four minutes to go Hume was denied by Ellis and a brace of North End corners followed, but North End could not force the goal that their play deserved. Bailey Wright drilled a volley an inch wide as well, with four minutes added on, but North End could not get back into the game.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Clarke, Huntington, Wright; Humphrey (Holmes, 70), Keane (Welsh, 73), Byrom (Brownhill, 73), Laird; Hume; K Davies, Beavon. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Wroe, Buchanan, Mousinho.
Crewe Alexandra line-up: Phillips, Tootle, Mellor, Ellis, Dugdale, Osman, Moore, Inman, Turton, Aneke, Grant. Subs not used: Clayton, Leitch-Smith, Guthrie, Nolan, Oliver, Garratt, Molyneux.
Referee: Mr T Kettle
: 9,268 (319 away fans)Attendance