PNE 3 Peterborough United 1
The Lilywhites came from behind to take all three points thanks to a first goal for the Club from Neil Kilkenny and a second half brace from Joe Garner.
The visitors took the lead in the 18th minute when Danny Swanson curled home from the edge of the ‘D’, but PNE were level in the final minute of the first half when midfielder Kilkenny scored with a neat low finish after good play by Paul Gallagher.
But after the break it was the Garner show as the front man scored a brace, assisted by Paul Gallagher and Irish debutant Alan Browne respectively, to give North End an immediate response to the loss at Swindon the previous weekend.
Manager Simon Grayson rewarded Stuart Beavon for his impressive substitute appearance at Swindon with a place in the starting XI, lining up alongside Joe Garner for the first time since the Barnet FA Cup tie back in November. Tom Clarke and Josh Brownhill missed out through injury, with Jack King and John Welsh returning to the starting XI.
The game took a while to get going, but North End’s first meaningful attack came in the 17th minute with a sweeping move and counter-attack. Skipper John Welsh won the ball in the middle of the park, sweeping the ball across to Paul Gallagher on the left. He controlled it first time, taking it past the right full back before curling a 30 yard dipping effort that had Posh keeper Bobby Olejnik beaten, but the ball cannoned off the top of the cross bar and over.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead almost immediately after this chance. Neil Kilkenny gave the ball away in middle of the North End half and Danny Swanson took it on and curled from the edge of the ‘D’ into the bottom right hand corner.
North End took a while to get back going and in the mean time also lost Scott Wiseman through an ankle injury, Keith Keane replacing the Gibraltan international. But on the half hour mark Beavon laid the ball off for Kilkenny after another quick break; the No.32 shot but it was deflected wide off Ben Nugent for a corner, with Olejnik wrong-footed.
With eight minutes left in the half Declan Rudd saved with his feet from Sky Bet League One top scorer Britt Assombalonga, after Peterborough again broke from a poor PNE pass in the middle of the park.
However, in the final minute of normal time in the first half PNE drew level. Some excellent build up play again saw the ball eventually come to Paul Gallagher who controlled on the edge of the box, held the ball and weighted a perfect pass for the run of Kilkenny who drilled a low shot into the bottom left hand corner for his first goal for the Club.
David Buchanan made a brilliant save with a header 12 minutes into the second half with Ajose set to score with an open goal and then from the resulting corner Declan Rudd made a brilliant save as McQuoid’s corner was met with power by Craig Alcock.
On the hour mark North End were up in arms as Chris Humphrey was upended when clean through on goal after an excellent headed through ball by Joe Garner to the wing man. The Jamaican was goal side of Alcock and had no reason to go down, but referee Mark Brown waved away the vocal claims of the whole Lilywhites team and support.
Irish youngster Alan Browne was on for his debut with 12 minutes to go, replacing goalscorer Kilkenny in the middle of the park.
And North End were ahead within 30 seconds of the change. The ball was won by Browne in the middle of the park, who played it through to Beavon, whose fantastic touch laid it off to Gallagher, his left foot curler beat Olejnik, but came back off the inside of the left hand post, but straight injto the path of top scorer Joe Garner, who poked home from six yards out.
Three minutes were added on by the match official and in the first minute of that time it was 3-1. North End countered with pace from a Peterborough free kick and Paul Gallagher went long from deep in his own half and it was controlled by Lee Holmes, who went into the box, held off two defenders before laying it off to the onrushing and impressive Alan Browne, who in turn slid the ball to the penalty spot to where Joe Garner smashed home into the roof of the net for his 22nd goal of the season.
: Rudd, Wiseman (Keane, 26), Buchanan, Kilkenny, Wright, King, Humphrey (Holmes, 63), Welsh, Garner, Beavon, Gallagher. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Huntington, K Davies, Holmes, C Davies, Browne (Kilkenny, 78).PNE line-up
: Olejnik, Alcock, Baldwin (McQuoid, 46), Bostwick, Swanson, Payne, Assombalnga, Newell, Ajose (Washington, 74), Nugent, Little. Subs not used: Brisley, McCann, Day, Knight-Percival, Isgrove.Peterborough United line-up
: 8,206 (160 away fans)Attendance
: Mr M BrownReferee