Flemming hits hat-trick as Millwall win Preston thriller
Record signing Zian Flemming bagged a superb hat-trick as Millwall roared to a 4-2 victory at Preston.
Dutch ace Flemming was in predatory mood as he inspired the Lions to a deserved first victory in four games, while Preston’s three-match winning streak was abruptly halted.
Flemming put Millwall 2-0 up before Preston hit back to level the score by the half-hour mark.
However, the striker completed his hat-trick in the second half and Charlie Cresswell cemented a fabulous away win.
The Lions struck early in what turned out to be a thrilling first 45 minutes.
Only four minutes had gone when Andreas Voglsammer crossed in low for Flemming, and the big Dutchman produced a super turn before burying a shot past Freddie Woodman from eight yards.
After those three winless games had not even yielded a goal, this had been a welcome early boost for Gary Rowett’s men, but they almost let North End in to level shortly after.
Emil Riis swung in a cross for former Wales international Ched Evans, but his header was straight at George Long.
Lethargic-looking Preston then fell further behind in the 16th minute, and it was Ajax youth product Flemming who notched again.
The home fans were stunned when the forward drilled home a 20-yard free-kick after Tom Bradshaw had been clumsily fouled by Liam Lindsay.
Just when it was looking as though Preston were in for a long afternoon, they halved the deficit in the 20th minute through Andrew Hughes.
Billy Mitchell got in the way of his goalkeeper and Hughes bundled the ball over the line following Robbie Brady’s in-swinging corner.
Deepdale then erupted when Evans headed home Hughes’ pinpoint cross to make it 2-2.
Incredibly, another powerful Evans header almost handed rejuvenated North End the lead towards the end of what had been a pulsating opening half.
Preston’s momentum continued after the restart, and before five minutes had passed both Evans and Ali McCann fluffed very presentable chances to score a third.
Millwall were on the back foot as the hour mark approached, and Evans should have done better again when he fired wide after charging clear of the visitors’ defence.
North End eventually ran out of steam somewhat, and the Lions punished them, with that man Flemming doing the damage once again.
He bagged his third goal from six yards after latching on to a fizzing low cross from Danny McNamara.
It was Millwall who were now in the ascendancy again, and they soon made it 4-2 to wrap up an eye-catching away success.
This time Leeds loanee Cresswell nodded home at the far post after Voglsammer’s cross took a flick on its way over.