Preston North End’s unbeaten run came to an end on Gentry Day as high-flying Middlesbrough won 4-0.
Over 1,650 PNE fans were in attendance on the annual tradition of Gentry Day – an occasion to remember those connected to the club that we have sadly lost.
Boro went ahead midway through the first half through Chuba Akpom, before Cameron Archer scored a double and Marcus Forss netted right at the death.
PNE made two changes from the midweek victory over Rotherham United, with Álvaro Fernández and Ryan Ledson coming into the side.
It was a relatively quiet opening to the game, with the hosts seeing much of the ball but without creating any real opportunities.
In fact, it was PNE who had the first meaningful effort of the afternoon, as skipper Alan Browne crossed to the far post for Brad Potts to meet the ball in the air, but he headed over.
At the other end, Boro went ahead on 22 minutes as Akpom played the ball into former PNE loanee Archer, who in turn played it back to the division’s top scorer, and he fired past Freddie Woodman from 12 yards.
North End’s No.1 came out on top in the 33rd minute, though, when Middlesbrough broke in numbers and Akpom looked for his second of the day, but Woodman saved low to his left.
Home goalkeeper Zack Steffen was called into action twice in the latter stages of the first half, firstly through Tom Cannon who struck a low effort goalwards, while Browne flicked Fernández’s cross towards the near post.
Boro then doubled their lead seven minutes into the second period as Archer won the ball from Diaby, before cutting inside and firing into the roof of goal.
Archer got his second of the afternoon just short of the hour mark, receiving the ball from Akpom on the edge of the box before converting past Woodman.
Cannon had an opportunity at the other end on 71 minutes, volleying goalwards from close range, but the goalkeeper stuck out a hand and tipped his strike wide of goal.
North End were reduced to ten men in the 88th minute as Diaby was shown a second yellow for bringing down Akpom, before Forss scored with one of the last touches of the game, converting from close range.
Middlesbrough line-up: Steffen; Smith, Fry, Lenihan, Giles; Howson (Barlaser, 82), Hackney (Mowatt, 72); Forss, Akpom, McGree (Bola, 72); Archer (Ramsey, 82). Subs not used: Roberts, McNair, Crooks.
PNE line-up: Woodman; Storey, Diaby, Cunningham (Hughes, 28); Potts, Whiteman, Ledson, Fernández (Brady, 86); Browne (Woodburn, 86), Johnson (Delap, 86); Cannon. Subs not used: Cornell, Onomah.
Attendance: 28,304 (1,659 PNE pre-sales).
Referee: Mr M Donohue.