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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: PRESTON

9 December 2017

Preston North End condemned Albion to another home defeat as second half goals from skipper Tom Clarke and substitute Daryl Horgan ensured victory for Alex Neil's side.

Clarke struck from close range on 66 minutes to break open a tight game before Horgan produced a sweet finish to finally kill off any hope that Albion had of arresting their run of defeats on home soil. Even a late consolation from Lucas Akins, firing in off the under side of the cross bar after a penalty area scramble could not salvage anything for the Brewers who remain bottom of the Sky Bet Championship.

Albion made just the one change in personnel but that enabled a change of shape and formation for the visit of Neil's side. Lloyd Dyer came through a fitness test to retake his place in the side at the expense of Marvin Sordell who was carrying a knock. With Sordell missing out there was a return to an attacking role for Lucas Akins. Albion reverted to a back four with Tom Naylor stepping out of the defence to join Luke Murphy in a holding midfield role. Dyer, Matty Palmer and Will Miller provided the attacking support behind Akins.

After a bright start Albion almost grabbed the lead in the fifth minute. Preston keeper Chris Maxwell raced off his line to try and intercept Dyer's ball forward for Akins but never really got there. Akins knew that he had to take it early with the goal gaping but from wide out on the left he only found the side netting.

It took Preston a quartof an hour to really get any sort of threat on the Albion goal but even then, from a corner Ben Pearson watched his rising drive go over the bar from the edge of the box.

Preston full back Darnell Fisher picked up a yellow card from referee Keith Stroud with twenty minutes on the clock. With both Palmer and Miller closing in on a loose ball the former Rotherham man dived in and sent Palmer sprawling and found himself in the book.

Barely two minutes later and it was Fisher that almost broke the deadlock with a curling effort that was arrowing towards the top corner until Stephen Bywater got up well to push it over the bar.

The game was developing into something of an attritional midfield battle but it was Miller who almost provided the opening goal with a snapshot from the edge of the box that, unfortunately for Albion was straight at Maxwell. Another chance quickly followed as Palmer sent in a teasing free kick from the left but his delivery was just too high for Akins to get a touch in the hope of glancing it into the corner.

Albion had Brayford to thank for a goalline clearance on 41 minutes when Preston created a spell of pressure in and around the Burton box. Having struggled to initially clear their lines the Brewers found themselves somewhat open when the ball fell for Callum Robinson on the edge of the box. After initially miscuing his effort horribly he managed to pick up possession again and fire a low shot across Bywater only to find Brayford covering to keep the Brewers on level terms.

It was a vital intervention as Albion made sure they saw the game through to half time still on level terms with Preston with the chance to build on an encouraging first half after the break.

Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Preston North End.

It was the men from Deepdale that started the second half brightly and looking for the breakthrough. Both Albion centre backs, Ben Turner and Jake Buxton found themselves in the book for challenges on Jordan Hugill and Ben Davies that allowed testing deliveries into the box that Albion defended stoutly. Preston also had half shouts for a penalty when Davies went tumbling under pressure from Flanagan inside the six yard box as a corner flashed past.

Albion also had shouts of their own for a spot kick when a Buxton header seemed to strike an arm before another chance seemed to go begging when Miller led a break out and after feeding Dyer to his left the winger's shot lacked the power to beat Maxwell.

Tom Barkhuizen was guilty of a bad miss when he steered a shot wide of the target with the goal at his mercy but it was a warning of things to come.

Albion sent on Sean Scannell in place of Miller and Preston also made a double change and it was the visitors soon celebrating as they grabbed the lead through CLARKE's close range finish. The big defender was on hand to pounce on a loose ball inside the Burton box and find the bottom corner as Albion looked to scramble it away.

Palmer saw a free kick tipped away by Maxwell and Akins was also denied by the Preston keeper's fingertips from a header.

A third change from Nigel Clough saw Turner sacrificed from the back as Albion went with a three man defence to allow Luke Varney to provide another attacking option. Unfortunately it opened Albion up and Preston struck with a second goal to ensure that the points would head back up the M6. Substitute Daryl Horgan had already been denied by Bywater once on a bursting run through the middle but the Albion keeper was helpless when Buxton's challenge on Barkhuizen sent the ball spinning into the path of the Irishman to finds the bottom corner with an unerring effort.

Horgan was denied again by Bywater and Callum Robinson struck the post as Preston tried to put a gloss on their victory but it was Akins who had the last say with his scrambled effort.


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