Match report: PNE 3 Huddersfield 1

PNE v Huddersfield

PNE v Huddersfield

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Paul Gallagher's delivery was key to Preston North End's victory over Huddersfield Town at Deepdale.

Gallagher set-up the first two goals for the Lilywhites and then scored the third, this a fourth home win on the bounce and a sixth game unbeaten.

PNE skipper Tom Clarke met a Gallagher free-kick to head the home side in front in the sixth minute.

Another Gallagher cross from the other side was headed home by Alex Baptiste three minutes before the interval.

The victory was effectively wrapped-up eight minutes into the second half, a Gallagher free-kick from the left channel travelling straight into the net at the far post without anyone getting a touch.

Huddersfield, who had been top of the table until last week, grabbed a consolation in the 81st minute substitute Nahki Wells headed home.

It was a strong performance tactically from North End, with them pressing the visitors high up the pitch to knock them out of their passing rhythm.

Gallagher, Bailey Wright, Greg Cunningham and Ben Pringle had come into the starting XI, with Tommy Spurr, Paul Huntington, Chris Humphrey and John Welsh dropping out of the side which drew 2-2 at Brighton.

Gallagher and Pringle were second-half substitutes in the Brighton game, Wright an unused sub that afternoon, while Cunningham was suspended for the trip.

This was Pringle's first start in the Championship since August, although he did feature in the EFL Cup win at Bournemouth last month.

North End lined-up in a 4-4-2 system, with Gallagher on the right-wing and Pringle playing down the left, Daniel Johnson and Ben Pearson the centre of midfield.

The contest was less than six minutes old when Preston took the lead, a foul on Callum Robinson seeing them awarded a free-kick down the left channel.

Gallagher whipped it into the box right-footed, Clarke rising to guide a header past Town goalkeeper Danny Ward from seven yards.

His celebrations were somewhat muted and respectful towards Huddersfield, the club he joined at eight-years old and only left when he joined PNE in 2013.

Another Gallagher free-kick produced a chance for Jordan Hugill in the 23rd minute, the striker's header tipped over the bar by Ward.

The resulting corner was only partly dealt with by the visitors' defence, the ball falling to Clarke whose low drive was held at the second attempt by Ward as Hugill closed in on the rebound.

A spell of Huddersfield pressure saw a love drive from Jack Payne, coming after a Bailey Wright slip, hit Clarke and flew behind.

They went close again with a similar opportunity soon after. Aaron Mooy's shot catching Cunningham on the back and looping over the bar.

Preston stretched the lead three minutes before the interval, North End winning a free-kick on the right hand side, five yards into their half.

Gallagher played it short to Johnson who returned it into Gallagher's path further up the right channel.

He then played a superb cross into the middle which Baptiste met six yards out with a powerful header into the roof of the net.

The visitors made a double change at the interval, Wells and former PNE loan striker Harry Bunn replacing Rajiv Van La Parra and Elias Kacunga.

They had the first chance of the second half, Payne's free-kick clearing Maxwell's bar by a few inches.

But it was North End who surged further ahead in the 53rd minute, that man Gallagher at the heart of it again.

A foul on Hugill by Mark Hudson - one which earned the Town skipper a yellow card - gave the hosts a free-kick on the left-wing.

Gallagher kept it low, bending the ball into the middle and seeing it travel across the box and into the net at the far post.

The PNE players went straight over to congratulate Gallagher, a sign that no one else had got a touch on the ball on its way in.

Huddersfield pressed for a route back into the game, a Bunn shot beaten out by Maxwell, while Smith's drive from distance touched off Clarke and went behind for a corner.

Maxwell then got fingertips to take a Mooy shot past the far post.

Nine minutes from time, Huddersfield cut the deficit when Payne's free-kick to the far post was headed into the middle by Christopher Schindler for Wells to nod home.

But Preston saw out time, bringing on Eoin Doyle and Simon Makienok in the last few minutes run down the clock.

PNE: Maxwell, Baptiste, Clarke, Wright, Cunningham, Gallagher (Humphrey 76), Pearson, Johnson, Pringle (Doyle 87), Robinson, Hugill (Makienok 90) Subs (not used): Spurr, Huntington, Browne, Lindegaard.

Huddersfield: Ward, Smith, Hudson, Schindler, Lowe, Hogg, Mooy, Scannell (Palmer 67), Payne, Van La Parra (Wells 46), Kachunga (Bunn 46). Subs (not used): Whitehead, Cranie, Hefele, Coleman.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Carnforth)

Attendance: 12,862 (2,840 away)