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Preston 1-2 Stoke: McNally nets vital late winner
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Luke McNally scored Stoke’s late winner at Preston (Nigel French/PA)
Luke McNally scored Stoke’s late winner at Preston (Nigel French/PA)

Luke McNally scored a late winner as Stoke boosted their survival hopes with a 2-1 Championship victory over play-off hopefuls Preston at Deepdale.

Andrew Hughes was unfortunate to put into his own goal after 64 minutes to give Steven Schumacher’s Potters the lead.

Preston substitute Milutin Osmajic’s clever finish – three minutes later – levelled matters before McNally’s 87th-minute winner clinched a surprise victory in Lancashire to take them three points clear of the relegation zone.

Ryan Lowe’s side’s play-off hopes were dented as they fell to their first defeat since January and now lie five points off the top six.

The hosts were first to threaten to break the deadlock in the 19th minute when their penalty claims were dismissed after in-form striker Emil Riis latched onto a smart Alan Browne ball in the box, but slipped under pressure from defender Ben Wilmot.

The travelling Potters were made to wait until the 37th minute before their first shot on goal, as Bae Junho collected a loose ball deep in the Lilywhites’ half and had a low effort easily collected by goalkeeper Freddie Woodman.

Schumacher’s men then tested Woodman’s gloves again only five minutes later, when forward Tyrese Campbell’s quick right-sided run allowed him to release a tame strike on goal from the near post.

Preston looked rather more comfortable following the break and had another strong call for a penalty denied in the 54th minute after Riis excellently flicked in Browne, who stumbled under pressure on the right-hand side of the box.

Lynden Gooch should have put the visitors ahead two minutes later when he picked up Preston midfielder Mads Frokjaer’s loose pass by the near post, but Woodman just about managed to parry the former Sunderland player’s strike.

But the former Premier League side’s pressure paid dividends in the 64th minute as Gooch whipped in a venomous ball from the left wing and Hughes opened the scoring with an own goal.

Yet that lead only lasted for around four minutes before Hughes worked to cancel out his mistake. Preston achieved parity through Osmajic, who flicked Hughes’ left-sided cross under former North End goalkeeper Daniel Iversen.

Preston then almost carved out a lead of their own in the 82nd minute when midfielder Ben Whiteman was slipped in one-on-one by via a counter attack, yet his effort was excellently saved by Iversen.

The hosts were left to rue that missed opportunity only five minutes later as they failed to clear a Lewis Baker free-kick and McNally poked the ball home following a defensive mix-up to edge Stoke into the lead.

A boisterous home support willed their side on for a much-needed equaliser, but none was forthcoming as the Lilywhites’ seven-match unbeaten run came to an end.


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