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Match Reports

Match Report: PNE 2 Plymouth Argyle 1

16 September 2023

Preston North End returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table courtesy of a 2-1 home victory over Plymouth Argyle, with goals coming from Duane Holmes and debutant Liam Millar.

It was inside the opening minute that Holmes got PNE going with a close-range header before Millar marked his first appearance for the club with a superb solo effort later in the half.

Argyle enjoyed a good spell early in the second period and pulled one back through Ryan Hardie, but North End stayed strong to secure a fifth successive victory.

Ryan Lowe – coming up against his former side – handed first appearances to Millar and Milutin Osmajić, while Ben Whiteman, Layton Stewart and Robbie Brady all featured on the bench for the first time this season.

It took just short of 40 seconds for Holmes to find the opening goal – his third in PNE colours – as debutant Millar did well down the left before floating a cross into the area and goalkeeper Conor Hazard got a hand to it, but North End’s No.25 was there to head home from just a few yards out.

The home side were electric and causing a whole host of problems, with Holmes again testing the ‘keeper soon after.

At the other end, Freddie Woodman had to come up with a strong right-hand to prevent Bali Mumba’s cross sneaking in at his near post, and he then had to stop Ryan Hardie’s cross reaching Mumba just a few yards out.


Just a minute later PNE doubled their lead and what a goal it was, too. Osmajić held the ball up well before laying into the path of fellow debutant Millar, who cut inside onto his right foot before curling expertly into the far corner.

In the 36th minute, Woodman produced his most important moment yet as Kaine Kesler-Hayden went through on goal, but North End’s shot-stopper did what he does best and stood tall to save.

The Lilywhites held a two-goal lead at the break and it could have been made three inside five minutes of the second half when substitute Mads Frøkjær shot from the edge of the area, but Hazard made a straightforward stop.

At the other end, Finn Azaz sent an effort just wide before Liam Lindsay crucially deflected a Morgan Whittaker strike over the bar.

The visitors were creating a number of chances and putting PNE under real pressure, and Hardie did get a goal back for his side just after the hour mark after a smart touch from Luke Cundle sent him through on goal.

Despite Argyle’s pressure, it was North End who couldn’t believe they didn’t restore their two-goal advantage as Millar’s cross headed goalwards by Osmajić was somehow saved by Hazard, before the post then denied a low-driven shot from Potts five minutes later.

Millar then had a big chance himself to make it three as PNE broke quickly, but his left-footed effort was deflected wide and the Canadian seemed to pull up with cramp, however with no subs left to make he was forced to see the game out.

Argyle kept pushing hard for the equaliser but North End defended resolutely to hold on to a fifth successive victory to return to the summit of the table.

PNE line-up: Woodman; Storey, Lindsay, Hughes (Whatmough, 63); Potts, McCann, Ledson (Whiteman, 60), Millar; Holmes, Browne (Frøkjær, 46); Osmajić (Brady, 75). Subs not used: Cornell, Cunningham, Stewart, Woodburn, Best.

Plymouth Argyle line-up: Hazard; Kesler-Hayden, Pleguezuelo (Scarr, 85), Gibson, Miller (C.Wright, 68); Cundle (Randell, 73), Houghton (Waine, 85), Azaz; Whittaker (T.Wright, 85), Hardie, Mumba. Subs not used: Burton, Butcher, Edwards, Warrington.

Attendance: 17,542 (2,737 Plymouth Argyle fans).

Referee: Mr G Ward.

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