Preston 3-1 Blackpool: North End keep play-off hopes alive
Preston secured derby bragging rights with a thoroughly-deserved 3-1 win against Blackpool in the Sky Bet Championship.
Ryan Lowe’s side dominated on their way to a victory that just about keeps their play-off hopes alive.
North End are certainly back in impressive form at the right time, having now lost just once in their last nine games.
Blackpool, meanwhile, remain in the relegation scrap.
They have not won on their travels since October, and a fifth defeat in seven matches leaves them still four points from safety having played more games than all the sides around them.
Amid a white-hot atmosphere at a packed-out Deepdale, it was the hosts who threatened first.
Ben Whiteman found space on the edge of the Seasiders’ box before curling in a shot which Chris Maxwell dived at full length to save superbly.
Keshi Anderson almost struck at the other end following a frantic start to the game, before North End broke the deadlock in some style after 12 minutes.
Andrew Hughes swung over a rather hopeful cross from the left flank, and the ball eventually fell to Brad Potts.
The former Blackpool midfielder controlled superbly before drilling an angled strike powerfully past a helpless Maxwell.
It was a stunning early blow for Mick McCarthy’s men, but they almost levelled minutes later when CJ Hamilton was denied by an excellent near-post save from Freddie Woodman.
It was the hosts that remained on top, however, and their overall superiority was underlined thanks to a second goal in the 26th minute.
It was another disappointing strike from Blackpool’s point of view as Whiteman took aim from a 25-yard free-kick, curling home a near-post effort.
Deepdale erupted, and the Seasiders already looked down and out.
If Jordan Storey’s header had gone in soon after and made it three, it surely would have been game over, but it remained at just two by the interval.
McCarthy made a triple change at the break, and initial signs were encouraging.
However, another classy North End goal in the 51st minute sent the majority inside Deepdale into raptures yet again.
This time Everton loanee Tom Cannon side-footed home brilliantly from just inside the Seasiders’ box after he latched on to Alvaro Fernandez’s short pass.
Seasiders’ substitute Josh Bowler threatened to claw one back soon after, but this was definitely turning into Preston’s derby day to celebrate as they were coasting.
Jerry Yates’ late tap-in from Bowler’s cross provided a little consolation for the well-beaten Seasiders.