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Match Reports

Millwall lose out at Preston North End

Our report from Deepdale...

15 December 2018

Millwall's wait for a win on the road in the Sky Bet Championship goes on after Preston North End were 3-2 winners at Deepdale on Saturday afternoon.

Two goals in five first-half minutes from Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen effectively sealed victory for the hosts, but a spirited second-half performance, complete with Jake Cooper goal, made a draw - or more - seem a real possibility.

Andrew Hughes' free-kick, however, put pay to any hopes of such a result, despite Lee Gregory's last-gasp consolation.

Neil Harris opted to keep his starting XI the same as last Saturday's 2-2 draw with Hull City, with the only change coming on the bench, as Byron Webster replaced Jiri Skalak.

The game was four minutes old when the first shot on goal arrived, but Shaun Hutchinson raced out to block Andrew Hughes' attempt. Barkhuizen then found The Lions' travelling contingent behind the goal with 12 minutes on the clock.

Millwall were happy to sit back and soak up any potential Preston pressure, mustering their first real chance of the afternoon when Hutchinson headed Jed Wallace's free-kick wide on 22 minutes. A free-kick was then whipped in by the winger a minute later, but The Lions were unable to force the ball over the line.

Gregory and Cooper both had half-chances on goal as the half-hour mark came and went, before some neat build-up play allowed Jed Wallace to strike, but he found the stand behind the goal.

The home side took the lead on 37 minutes. A ball across the box evaded a mass of legs and fell to Browne, who slotted an attempt past Jordan Archer.

It was then two just five minutes later. A cross-field pass saw the run of Barkhuizen go undetected, and despite the hesitation of Archer, the North End man had the simplest of tasks to fire home and double the lead.

Appeals for a North End penalty were waved away at the beginning of the second-half after the ball accidentally struck the arm of Hutchinson, before Paul Gallgher's curling effort was tipped behind by Archer. On 52 minutes the ball found its way to Steve Morison but, whilst having to think quickly, he lifted the ball over.

Two minutes later The Lions had their best attempt of the game, but after Morison knocked down Cooper's long ball, Jed Wallace's effort was saved by Declan Rudd; Ryan Tunnicliffe was unable to get a follow-up strike away.

Millwall were coming into the game more as the hour-mark approached, but despite a cross from Morison and a deflected strike from substitute Shane Ferguson, The Lillywhites' sheet was kept clean. Aiden O'Brien then had an effort, but Rudd was equal to it.

From the corner-kick that followed, however, Millwall found a way past the North End rearguard. Ferguson's deep corner was headed goalwards by Cooper, with the ball creeping over the line to halve the deficit.

The Northern Irishman was proving influential, as his free-kick nearly lead to an equalising goal on 63 minutes, but Hutchinson headed over. Gregory then beat Rudd to the ball seconds later, but his snapshot flashed across the face of goal.

With the game springing into life, Archer had to be equal to Barkhuizen's effort at the other end, while the ball was kept out of the net  - somehow - by a combination of Ryan Leonard and O'Brien as North End looked to score a third.

With 20 minutes remaining Millwall found themselves in a four-on-three situation, but after Jed Wallace fed O'Brien, the Irishman's shot was blocked behind. Tunnicliffe also had an attempt blocked behind on 74 minutes as The Lions pushed hard for an equaliser.

However, such is football, in a rare foray forward for Preston, Hughes' free-kick apologetically rolled beyond the despairing dive of Archer nine minutes from time.

Ben Pearson cannoned a shot off the crossbar two minutes from time following a poor goal-kick, before Gregory curled home Millwall's second three minutes into stoppage-time.

Preston North End: Rudd, Pearson, Clarke, Davies, Browne (Burke 90+1'), Johnson (Ledson 82'), Gallagher, Hughes, Huntington, Barkhuizen, Nmecha. Subs not used: Maxwell, Fisher, Storey, Woods, Walker.

Scorer: Browne 37', Barkhuizen 42', Hughes 81'

Booking: Davies

Millwall: Archer, Meredith (Ferguson 46'), Hutchinson, Cooper, J. Wallace, Gregory, Romeo, Tunnicliffe (Elliott 82'), Morison, O'Brien, Leonard. Subs not used: Amos, McLaughlin, Webster, Karacan, M. Wallace.

Scorer: Cooper 61', Gregory 90+3'

Booking: Romeo, J. Wallace, Cooper

Referee: Mr J. Brooks

Attendance: 10,924 (437)

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