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Match Reports

Match Report: PNE 2 Middlesbrough 1

14 February 2024

Match Reports

Match Report: PNE 2 Middlesbrough 1

14 February 2024

Preston North End marked the tenth anniversary of Sir Tom Finney’s passing with a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough at Deepdale.

Liam Millar gave his side the lead with a superb left-footed strike in the 23rd minute, but Finn Azaz levelled early in the second half with a good effort of his own.

North End were soon back ahead, though, when Emil Riis netted his sixth goal in as many games against Boro, and that was enough to earn a third successive win.

PNE made just one change from the side which beat Cardiff City at the weekend, with Robbie Brady coming in for the injured Brad Potts.

As the teams emerged from the tunnel, a Sir Tom Finney surfer flag moved its way along the Town End, and Deepdale was then on its feet in the seventh minute in memory of the club legend.

North End lost Andrew Hughes to injury in the ninth minute and his replacement Greg Cunningham made a good challenge just two minutes on, but the ball fell fortunately to Sam Greenwood whose deflected strike wrongfooted Freddie Woodman, and the ‘keeper did well to somehow claw it away.


There wasn’t much action in either box until the 23rd minute when Millar took a superb touch 20 yards out to cut inside and fire a left-footed effort low towards the near post, where he managed to beat Tom Glover and put North End one up.

Just after the half-hour mark, the travelling Boro faithful thought Greenwood had drawn their side level, only to realise his long-range strike had struck the stanchion to the right of Woodman’s goal before hitting the side-netting.

Going into the second period a goal to the good, Riis – with a fine scoring record against Boro – could have scored his second goal in as many matches in the 49th minute if it wasn’t for a deflection.

North End were soon thankful for a defensive touch at the other end, though, when Liam Lindsay stuck out a boot to divert Azaz’s 20-yard effort just wide of goal.

However, he was soon celebrating as he dipped a good strike over Woodman from distance to level matters and make a period of pressure count.


The visitors will have therefore been frustrated when PNE regained their advantage just three minutes later when space opened up for Keane to strike and a huge deflection saw it fall kindly for Riis, who was in the right place to bury it to score his sixth goal in as many games against Boro.

The Lilywhites needed man of the match Woodman in the 70th minute to come up with a quite incredible reaction stop to deny Marcus Forss on the volley, which looked destined for the back of the net.


Ryan Lowe made a triple change with 15 minutes left on the clock to rejuvenate his side and one of the subs, Milutin Osmajić could have finished off a fine team move in the 84th minute, only to be thwarted by Glover at close quarters.

Fellow sub Layton Stewart was also denied late on, but it wasn’t to matter as PNE held on for a third victory in a row.

PNE line-up: Woodman; Storey, Lindsay (Whatmough, 75), Hughes (Cunningham, 9); Millar, Browne, Whiteman (McCann, 83), Brady; Frøkjær; Keane (Stewart, 76), Riis (Osmajić, 76). Subs not used: Cornell, Ledson, Woodburn, Seary.

Middlesbrough line-up: Glover; Ayling (Dijksteel, 73), Van den Berg, Clarke, Thomas; Howson, Hackney (O’Brien, 89); Forss, McGree, Azaz; Greenwood (Silvera, 68). Subs not used: Dieng, Barlaser, Hoppe, Gilbert, Engel.

Attendance: 15,282 (1,745 Middlesbrough fans).

Referee: Mr T Harrington.

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