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Preston North End 1 Brentford 3

Preston North End's Daniel Devine

Preston North End's Daniel Devine

 

Preston North End turned in a pitiful performance as they were well beaten by Brentford at Deepdale.

Every step of Graham Westley’s walk to the tunnel at the final whistle was greeted by loud booing, the PNE supporters registering their displeasure in no uncertain terms.

There was little fight from North End in the second half, the Bees comfortably seeing out the contest with their goal coming under no pressure whatsoever.

Brentford were ahead inside nine minutes, Shaleum Logan heading home a Harry Forrester cross.

And it was a lead they doubled after 22 minutes when Clayton Donaldson netted from the penalty spot after Daniel Devine had fouled the striker.

Paul Parry brought North End back into the contest three minutes before the interval with a well-taken penalty.

But Donaldson headed his second goal of the night to restore the visitors’ two-goal cushion in the 53rd minute.

It’s just two wins in 14 games for Westley now, and clearly a section of supporters have lost patience with him already.

They now start a tough run of games, with promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons, Stevenage, Huddersfield and Charlton to come over the next few weeks.

And on the evidence of this performance, it is difficult to see where points are going to come from.

Graham Cummins had returned to the North End side.

The Irish striker stepped up from the bench to replace Barry Nicholson who suffered a hamstring strain in last Saturday’s draw against Bury.

That was only change made to the starting XI Westley, with Cummins partnering Iain Hume up front and Chuks Aneke operating on the right side of midfield.

Neil Mellor missed out on a place on the bench after suffering some swelling in his knee following his substitute’s appearance at the weekend.

Among the substitutes were the recalled George Miller and Rhys Murphy - the Arsenal loanee fit again after injury.

North End’s first attack saw Aneke send Cummins away down the right, his low cross cut out by a defender as Hume lurked in the middle.

But they found themselves trailing by the ninth minute, Donaldson racing clear of the home defence and seeing his shot beaten away from Thorsten Stuckmann.

Harry Forrester got to the loose ball first on the left, his cross picking out Logan who powered in a header at the far post.

The Bees very nearly doubled their advantage within three minutes, the PNE defence sliced open again to let Donaldson a free run on goal.

Stuckmann came to the rescue, spreading himself on the edge of his box to smother the striker’s shot.

But the goalkeeper was helpless to prevent North End falling further behind in the 22nd minute.

Daniel Devine and Donaldson tussled for a ball on the right side of the box, the young PNE centre-half dragging down the striker, leaving referee James Adcock with little choice but to point to the spot.

Donaldson picked himself up to take the penalty, sending Stuckmann the wrong way with a side-foot effort.

Aneke almost brought the hosts back into the game when he jinked into the box and curled a left-foot shot just over the bar.

Devine’s evening came to a premature conclusion when he was substituted in the 27th minute, paying the price for the visitors’ early surge.

Chris Holroyd came on, with Bailey Wright moving into the centre of defence and Parry dropping into the left-back slot.

The substitute was the width of the woodwork was halving the deficit soon after his arrival.

Collecting possession down the inside-left channel, he moved into the box and hit a daisy-cutter which struck the inside of the far post and bounced out.

At the other end, Donaldson got through again in the 38th minute, but a heavy touch saw the ball through to Stuckmann.

North End were given a route back into the contest three minutes before the interval when Cummins got a shove from Harlee Dean just inside the box.

Mr Adcock pointed to the spot for the second time, Parry tucking the penalty into the bottom corner.

But within eight minutes of the re-start, Brentford had restored their two-goal cushion as they found their way through the PNE defence with ease.

Jake Bidwell rolled a short free-kick to Jonathan Douglas, the former Blackburn midfielder chipping the ball into the box for Donaldson to loop a header over Stuckmann and into the net.

From then on, North End toiled, not creating even a half-chance as they looked for a way back into the game.

It was a sorry state of affairs, with Brentford comfortably holding on to their advantage, probably not believing their good fortune in how little pressure they came under.

As the game moved into its last five minutes, some fans in the Alan Kelly Town End launched into a slow hand-clap to register what they had witnessed.

Then there were loud chants of ‘3-1, and we don’t attack’, and ‘I want to go home’ as supporters aired their views in clear terms.

If anyone looked like they were further going to trouble the scorers, it was the visitors, Douglas seeing a shot deflect behind off Wright.

PNE: Stuckmann, Hunt, Robertson, Devine (Holroyd 28), Wright, Aneke (Miller 68), Coutts, Procter, Parry, Hume, Cummins (Murphy 82). Subs: Ehmer, Arestidou.

Brentford: Lee, Thompson, Osborne, Dean, Bidwell, Logan, Douglas, Diagouraga, Forrester (Morrison 54), Saunders (McGinn 83), Donaldson. Subs: Berahino, Moore, Legge.

Referee: James Adcock (Nottingham)

Attendance: 9,148

 

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