Colchester 1 PNE 2 full-time

Preston North End Manager Simon Grayson
Preston North End Manager Simon Grayson
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Preston North End claimed their 10th away victory of the season as a late own goal secured them the points against Colchester United at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

The winner came nine minutes from time, a cross from the excellent Chris Humphrey turned into his own net by U’s right-wing Brian Wilson.

North End had earlier taken the lead in the 28th minute, Tom Clarke getting on the end of a Paul Gallagher corner to head home from close range.

Within three minutes of that goal, Declan Rudd saved a penalty from Jabo Ibehre, the PNE goalkeeper having been penalised for bringing down midfielder Marcus Bean.

Ibehre later made amends for that miss from the spot, finishing superbly for Colchester’s 55th minute equaliser.

But it was Preston, playing in their red and black away kit for the first time since October, who made their late pressure count to bring the three points back from Essex.

PNE boss Simon Grayson made three changes to the Lilywhites side for the clash with Colchester United at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

John Welsh (knee) and Scott Wiseman (groin) were ruled out with injuries picked up in Tuesday night’s goalless draw with MK Dons, while Kevin Davies dropped down to the bench.

In came Craig Davies, Paul Gallagher and Humphrey, with North End operating in a 3-4-1-2.

They made a bright start, less than 50 seconds played when Humphrey sped down the right-wing and saw his cross nicked away from Gallagher’s boot at the last moment by Tom Eastman’s challenge.

Clarke got in a timely challenge to block a low shot from Eastman, with Jack King getting in the way of the follow-up effort.

North End struck the woodwork in the seventh minute, Davies’ centre from the right side of the box met by Joe Garner who powered a header over keeper Sam Walker and back off the bar.

Garner’s 10th minute shot from a Humphrey pass spun off a defender and behind for a corner as the visitors pressed.

From the resulting corner taken by Gallagher, Garner climbed at the back post but put a header over the bar.

Davies was inches away from breaking the deadlock when his right-foot drive from the edge of the box travelled just over the bar.

Grayson’s men went ahead in the 28th minute, with another corner providing their route to goal.

It had been needlessly given away by U’s centre-half Magnus Okuonghae who headed behind under no pressure.

Gallagher whipped it into the six-yard box, Clarke rushing in to meet it and sending a header over Walker into the roof of the net.

Colchester were handed a way back into the game when referee David Phillips pointed to the penalty spot three minutes later.

As the ball bobbled around in the box, Marcus Bean took possession 10 yards out and Rudd dived at the midfielder’s feet to block, taking his legs from under him.

Ibehre stepped up to take it, Rudd diving to his left to get both gloves on it and hold the ball.

Just before the interval, Humphrey got down the right-wing, squaring a pass inside to Garner who scooped a first-time shot over the bar from the edge of the box.

North End had the first chance of the second half, Bailey Wright meeting a corner from Gallagher but looping a header over the bar.

In the 55th minute Colchester levelled as Ibehre atoned for his first-half miss from the spot.

The big striker latched on to a pass down the left channel and powered his way past Clarke and into the box.

His first shot was blocked by Neil Kilkenny but the ball bounced back to him and he steered a fine finish over Rudd into the far corner of the net.

North End responded with Keith Keane driving a shot too high after a corner was cleared into his path.

Davies saw a low shot deflected wide of the near post by a defender’s challenge, before Garner wasted a golden opportunity to put them back in front.

A cross from Humphrey travelled all the way across the box and out to the far side of the pitch where Gallagher kept it in play.

He sent a cross back into the middle which found Garner in acres of space six yards out.

But the top scorer planted his downward header too close to keeper Walker who was able to block.

Kevin Davies and Josh Brownhill were introduced from the bench in a double change after 76 minutes, replacing Craig Davies and Kilkenny.

Quickly Brownhill was involved in the action, seeing a curling shot saved by Walker.

The winner arrived in the 81st minute, Humphrey the creator on the right-wing after a pass from Keane found its way to him.

He beat U’s left-back Ryan Dickson and drilled a low cross into the six-yard box which Walker could only push against the knees of Wilson, the ball flying into the roof of the net.

Late on, Keane was played clear of the home defence by a fine pass from Brownhill, but Dickson got back to take the ball off him with a well-timed challenge.

In stoppage-time, Gallagher’s pass found Brownhill on the edge of the box, the teenager’s curling shot saved by the keeper.

Colchester: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Dickson, Massey (Morrison 87), Wright, Bean, Eastmond (Sears 70) Vose, Ibehre. Subs not used: Cousins, Sanderson, Gilbey, Olufemi, Sesay.

PNE: Rudd, Clarke, King, Wright, Humphrey, Keane, Kilkenny (Brownhill 76), Laird, Gallagher, C Davies (K Davies 76), Garner (Beavon 85). Subs not used: Holmes, Buchanan, Hume, Stuckmann.

Referee: David Phillips (West Sussex)

Attendance: 3,416 (402 PNE fans)