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Match Reports

Preston North End 3 Millwall 2

15 December 2018

Goals from Alan Browne, Tom Barkhuizen and Andrew Hughes gave North End another three points in a 3-2 home win over Millwall.

Browne and Barkhuizen fired home with five minutes of each other just before half-time, both from Paul Gallagher assists, to put PNE ahead, but Jake Cooper halved the deficit with a close range header just after the interval.
 
Hughes’ deflected free kick extended the advantage for the home side, before Lee Gregory scored a late consolation.
 
Manager Alex Neil had been forced to make two changes with Brandon Barker out with the hamstring injury suffered in the first half at the City Ground the previous week and match-winner against Forest Louis Moult missing out with a slight niggle, meaning starts for Lukas Nmecha and the returning Ben Pearson.
 
There was also a place on the bench for 16-year-old Preston-born youth team scholar Ethan Walker, involved for the first time at first team level.
 
The first half saw North End dominate possession, with the visitors happy to sit with two banks of four behind the ball and time waste from as early as the 12th minute.
But the opening goal came after a lengthy period of possession eight minutes before the interval. The assist came from Gallagher, who collected the ball 35 yards out, worked some rare space in the middle of the pitch before feeding it into the box, it nicking off the heels of Nmecha, nicely into the path of Browne, who drove a right-footed shot into the bottom right hand corner of Jordan Archer’s goal.
And the lead was doubled just five minutes later. Another Gallagher assist as his superb through-ball from his own half sent Barkhuizen racing down the right, into the penalty area, before drawing Archer and arrowing a shot past the Millwall No.1 into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.
 
The visitors made a change at half-time, Meredith replaced by Shane Ferguson in a switch to a 3-5-2 by Neil Harris.
 
North End felt they should have won a penalty just three minutes into the half when Romeo’s handball looked like a clear and obvious spot kick, only for referee John Brooks to give only a corner.
 
And from that resulting corner a brilliant effort from Gallagher from 25 yards, after a quick corner played back to him by Daniel Johnson, saw Archer tip over the bar out of the top right-hand corner – a super stop.
 
Declan Rudd was needed to make his first stop of the game ten minutes into the second period, denying the Lions skipper Steve Morison with a smart low stop after a ricocheting ball in the box had fallen to the No.9.
 
The stopper then kept out Ryan Leonard’s effort as the orange-clad visitors trying to get back in the game and from the resulting corner they got that goal as Cooper headed in at the back post from Ferguson’s delivery.
 
It was now end to end and Gallagher found Barkhuizen this time on the left, forcing Archer to get down low at his near post to palm the ball behind. From the rebound from the corner Hughes was denied by a block on the line by Cooper.
 
Paul Huntington was required inside the final 20 minutes to make a superb block to deny Aiden O’Brien a goal, as Millwall had a four on three break, with the Irishman having a great chance to level matters until the timely intervention of the PNE No.23.
But with nine minutes left North End were back two ahead. Barkhuizen had been upended by Cooper on the right-hand edge of the penalty area and via a little deflection Hughes curled his free kick past Archer and into the Town End goal.
Ben Pearson almost capped off a good afternoon’s work for the Lilywhites when Gallagher set him up for a 20-yard pile-driver that came crashing back off the crossbar with Archer nowhere near the vicious effort.
 
But it was Gregory who added the game’s fifth goal, with a close-range finish after some pressure from the left-hand side by the London side in the final of three added minutes, but this was nothing more than consolation as North End took the points.
 
PNE line-up: Rudd, Clarke (c), Hughes, Pearson, Huntington, Davies, Barkhuizen, Gallagher, Nmecha, Browne (Burke, 90), Johnson (Ledson, 82). Subs not used: Maxwell, Fisher, Storey, Woods, Walker.
 
Millwall line-up: Archer, Meredith (Ferguson, 46), Hutchinson, Cooper J Wallace, Gregory, Romeo, Tunnicliffe (Elliott, 82), Morison (c), O’Brien, Leonard. Subs: Amos, McLaughlin, Webster, Karacan, M Wallace.
 
Attendance: 10,924 (437 Millwall fans)
 
Referee: Mr J Brooks

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